Dental Guides

Understanding the Different Types of Dental Implants

Anyone can lose a tooth. Whether it’s through a gum problem requiring a tooth to be removed, an accident, or body changes due to old age, no one is entirely safe.

Typically, losing your tooth/teeth makes you feel insecure or less attractive. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But, thanks to dental implants, you can now replace your tooth and get back to your normal look. And the best part?  No one will be able to tell the difference between the artificial tooth and your natural ones.

First things first, what are Dental Implants?

A dental implant is simply a metal frame surgically fitted into the jawbone to hold an artificial tooth in place. It consists of a titanium rod positioned in the jawbone to perform the role of an anchor to the crown.

Types of Dental Implants

There are three main types of dental implants: Subperiosteal, Endosteal, and Zygomatic implants.

Let’s walk through them in detail:

  1. Endosteal Implants

These dental implants are the commonest and can be used for most patients. Shaped like tinmy screws, they are surgically placed in the jawbone to firmly hold the artificial tooth.

How to Know if You Qualify for Endosteal Implants

Obviously, an oral surgeon or dentist is the best person to determine if you qualify for these implants after a professional assessment. However, some of the criteria you need to meet are:

  • Have a missing tooth
  • Good oral health
  • Fully grown jaw
  • Healthy gum tissue (free from periodontal disease)

Endosteal Implant Procedure

This procedure is done in stages and will take several months with numerous visits to the oral surgeon in between. These are the steps followed in the process.

  • Consultation with Dentist: The dentist performs the necessary tests to determine if you qualify for this procedure
  • Removal of Damaged Tooth: The dentist extracts the damaged tooth, and if needed, performs bone grafting. During this step, sedation, general anesthesia, or local anesthesia are used, so you don’t feel pain during the exercise. You should discuss with your dentist regarding the type of anesthesia to be used in the consultation stage.
  • Inserting the Implant: While still numb, a minor incision is made on the gum while holes are drilled on your bone to implant the endosteal post. In a period ranging from 2 -6 months, the jawbone grows into the implant, in a process known as osseointegration.
  • Abutment Placement: Once the osseointegration process is complete, the oral surgeon reopens your gum to connect the abutment and the implant. The abutment which appears above the gum is the part that is attached to the crown.
  • New Teeth: About two weeks after abutment placement, your gums have fully healed. The oral surgeon takes impressions and makes the crown.

Depending on your preference, the artificial teeth can be fixed or removable.

  1. Subperiosteal Implants

If your jaw is suffering from bone loss, a subperiosteal implant is ideal for you. This implant is placed on top of your jawbone and not into the bone like most implants.

In recent years, subperiosteal implants have become less popular, perhaps due to modern advancements in bone grafting, imaging, and implant design. Research by the Journal of Otolaryngology and Rhinology indicates that this procedure has a 30-50% failure rate, which could also explain its recent unpopularity. However, since bone loss is still a problem for many people, subperiosteal implants remain a viable option.

Subperiosteal Implant Procedure

This procedure can be done in two stages:

  • In the first stage, the oral surgeon opens up your gum tissue. They then take an impression of the bone before closing the gums using sutures to wait for the main surgery. During this stage, you’re under local anesthesia.
  • In the second stage, the oral surgeon reopens your gum tissue and places the implant onto the bone. Small screws may be used to hold the implant in place. The surgeon then sutures back the tissues over the implant and then makes a temporary bridge on the extension, so the oral tissues can heal over it. Once the gums are fully healed, a bridge matching your natural teeth is cemented on the extensions.
  1. Zygomatic Implants

If you’re not qualified for endosteal and subperiosteal implants, zygomatic implants are a viable option. These implants are done on people whose upper jaw does not have a bone, and instead of placing the implant in the jaw bone, it is attached to the cheekbone.

Zygomatic Implants Procedure

  • The oral surgeon performs a CBCT scan to determine the amount of bone in your upper jaw.
  • The surgeon creates your jaw’s structural model to guide them on the shape of your jaw and cheekbone.
  • A fixed bridge is fitted on the same day with the implants. This procedure fixes your teeth permanently, and the artificial teeth function and feel like natural teeth.

You don’t have to feel insecure or less attractive if you’ve lost your tooth or teeth. Thanks to dental implants, you can now restore your teeth, albeit with artificial ones, and go back to your usual smiling. Having said that, these dental implants require oral surgeries and should only be done by a professional dentist or oral surgeon. If you’re unsure which type of implants suit you best, they will also assess your oral condition and guide you through your options.

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