If you’re looking for a more permanent solution than bridges or dentures to replace missing teeth, dental implants may be perfect for you. Unlike dentures, dental implants act as a complete tooth replacement, providing artificial roots while strengthening the jaw and preventing further jawbone loss. But what exactly are dental implants? And what does the implant process look like? Keep reading to find out!
Different Types of Dental Implants
Dental implants are generally split into two categories: Endosteal Implants, and Subperiosteal Implants. Each type of implant comes with its benefits and drawbacks. To explore what these different dental implant types have to offer, let’s take a more detailed look at each.
Endosteal is by far the most common type of implant used in modern dentistry. This type of implant is placed directly into the jaw bone, strengthening the bone while providing stability to the tooth. The mounting methods include smooth (cylindrical), screw (threaded), and bladed inserts.
Before placing an endosteal implant, your doctor must first determine if the jawbone provides sufficient density to accommodate the implant. If a jawbone is too narrow, weak, or eroded, a bone graft may be required before placement can begin.
If the jawbone is healthy enough to support an implant, the doctor will begin by drilling a hole into the bone into which the implant is then placed. Once the implant area has healed and the bone has grafted to the implant, the artificial tooth can finally be inserted by the insertion method you and your doctor have chosen.
While rarely used today, subperiosteal implants may still be a viable option for patients who lack the jawbone density required by endosteal implants.
Unlike an endosteal implant, a subperiosteal implant is placed on top of the jawbone beneath the gum tissue by way of a metal frame, making it a less invasive choice.
The metal frame receives small metal posts that come up past the gum line and upon which the artificial teeth are mounted.
The procedure begins with your doctor making a small incision in the gums, before drilling below the tissue to make room for the metal frame. After the metal frame is placed, the gums are sutured and left to heal.
Once the gums have healed, your doctor will place the metal posts used to support the prosthetics. Then the prosthetic teeth are affixed to the posts.
Which Dental Implant to Choose
The best type of dental implant for you depends entirely on the state of your jawbone. If your jawbone is narrow, eroded, or weak, a subperiosteal implant may be the better option for you. But, if your jaw is sufficiently strong, your doctor will likely recommend endosteal implants.
In most cases, your doctor will recommend an endosteal implant anyway, This is because of the endosteal’s high success rate as compared to subperiosteal implants. If your jawbone is too narrow or weak, a bone graft will be required. But this additional treatment is often worth it, due to the extra stability and strength that endosteal implants provide.