Osseointegration is a fusion process between living bone and a metal (titanium). This takes place through the intermediary of titanium oxide which is coated onto the surface of the implant.
What is osseointegration?
Osseointegration was discovered by Professor Bränemark, a Swedish orthopaedic surgeon in the late 50s. He studied bone repair processes in his laboratory in Gothenburg where he created a metal tube that he screwed into a rabbit’s tibia. At one end of this structure was an optical chamber that made it possible to film bone repair phenomena. This chamber was made of titanium. When Professor Bränemark tried to extract the optical chamber at the end of the study, he found that it had fused with the rabbit bone. Professor Bränemark is therefore the father of modern implant technology.
- Mounting of the implant is usually carried out under local anaesthesia.
- The gum is incised and opened to expose the bone site where the implant is to be inserted.
- Drills of varying diameters are used successively to prepare the space.
- The implant is then screwed in.
Osseointegration is fusion of the dental implant with the bone.
The implant is inserted into the bone in such a way that it is totally immobile. The bone can then reform around the implant. During the healing phase, this process leads to ankylosis of the dental implant and blocks it in place; this is known as osseointegration.
Why use titanium?
Titanium is the very first material that we know to be fully biocompatible. In the past, the dental implants available could not be osseointegrated. Made of steel or tantalum, these implants became encapsulated, isolating them from the bone (fibro-integration) and leading to high failure rates. With titanium, the whole problem of rejection disappeared. What is more, no allergic reaction was noted after over 25 years of use whether with titanium or titanium alloys and since 2010 nearly all available implants are made from titanium. Some implants may be made of zirconium or a polymer but we do not have enough experience of these implants since they first started to be used to make any claims about their reliability.
Osseointegration is universally recognized phenomenon.
The reliability of current implant treatment is fully established. According to various published studies, implant survival rate in the long term (20 years) is 91%.