What Holds A Dental Implant In Place?

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Dental implants aren't false teeth. An implant is actually an artificial tooth root. It's made of titanium alloy and looks like a tiny screw. During your oral surgery, your dentist will implant the titanium alloy screw into your jaw. When it's concluded that the implant can support the occlusal (bite) force that its false tooth will encounter, that false tooth can be affixed to the implant. But how exactly does that implant stay in place? 

Implant Surgery

During your surgery, a small incision is made in your gums at the implant site. Your jaw will be numbed and you won't feel a thing. The incision reveals the alveolar ridge, which is a thick crest of bone. These ridges (one each for your upper and lower jaws) contain your dental sockets. A dentist will make a small guide hole in the bone for the insertion of the titanium alloy implant.

Healing and Integration

That implant stays in place courtesy of your immune system. That may sound strange, but your jaw essentially registers the implant as an injury and will begin to heal around it. This is called osseointegration—and your bone tissues are quite literally integrating with the implant as they heal around it. Your jaw will produce osteoblasts (cells that help to synthesize bone), creating new bone tissue around the implant.

Locked Location

After integration has been completed, the location of a dental implant is locked. This integration between something artificially occurring in the human body (the titanium alloy implant) and your bone tissues is why an implant stays in place. Post-osseointegration, an implant can't actually move—unless you neglect your oral hygiene.

Dental Infections

It's possible for oral bacteria to colonize the implant's false tooth and even the section embedded in your gums. First, the soft (gum) tissues will be affected, and then without treatment, the hard tissues (bone) will become involved. A bacterial dental infection can eventually attack bone tissue, and this will threaten the implant's integration with your jaw. It may become loose and will need to be removed.


Jawbone must have the necessary density to integrate with the implant. This is a complication for patients with long-term missing teeth, as the bone beneath an empty dental socket may naturally lose density (as the bone no longer has to support the occlusal forces experienced by the teeth). In these cases, bone grafting may be needed. This is an additional (minor) surgical procedure performed at the dental clinic. A small amount of bone material (synthetic or from a donor) is grafted onto the jaw at the implant site. After healing, your implant surgery can be scheduled.

Contact a local dentist to learn more about dental implants.