Dental implants are artificial tooth roots. They are permanently implanted into the jaw bone and take up the space of the lost tooth root, unite with the bone (osseointegration), and become part of the jaw bone.
After the healing phase of the artificial tooth roots(in the upper jaw about 6 months, in the lower jaw about 3 months) an artificial crown that cannot be differentiated visually from the natural tooth, is placed. It is possible to bite properly with the implant retained crown, just like with the natural tooth.
The dental implant generally has a screw-like or cylindrical design. It takes on the same functions as a tooth root and supports the future prosthesis, e.g. single crowns, bridges, or it can give firm retention to a removed prosthesis. A distribution is made between the implant body, that is placed into the bone, and the parts of the supra structure, onto which the crowns or support-structures for prosthesis are attached to.
Dental implants have been placed for the past 40 years. 1982 the implantology was recognized as a reliable therapy by the German Association for Oral-Maxillofacial surgery (DGZMK) based on well-founded scientific documentation (DGZMK statement). Due to the high success rates and the well funded documentation the treatment with implants has risen dramatically in the past few years.
Almost all modern implants are made of pure titanium, because it is very tissue friendly (biocompatibility) and integrates well into the bone (osseointegration). Lately ceramic implants have also become more common. Allergic reactions to titanium are very uncommon, only very few isolated cases are discussed in the literature. There are more than 70 different dental implant systems available in Germany alone. In the last 20 years the screw-type and cylindrical implants have proved themselves. They are available in length between 6-20 mm and diameters of 2-7 mm.
Other types such as disk or needle type implants have become obsolete from our point of view, as it is not possible to achieve good long term reliable scientific results.