What Are Dental Implants and Are They All the Same?

Understanding Dental Implants and Types

It will not only make you self-conscious if you have missing teeth. The gap can put your alignment in trouble, as well as noticeably changing your face shape over time. Neighboring teeth can drift into the space or opposing teeth can go downwards or upwards into the gap. These things happen because the bone under the missing tooth can degenerate or resorp without the usual pressure bearing down on it.

Missing teeth can be replaced to prevent these issues. If you ask your dentist, there are several options. One of the most durable and popular recommendations are dental implants.

Dental implants are also called ‘replacement teeth’ meant to take the place of missing teeth. They consist of artificial tooth roots placed surgically into the jawbone above the missing tooth. It may take a few months for the surrounding bone to grow completely around the implant (a process called osseo- integration) securing it in place. A replacement crown will then be attached to the metal connector of the implant, simulating a natural tooth and hence, closing the gap.

Types of Dental Implants

There are several types of dental implants that are appropriate for different situations. However, there are two major types. One is endosteal implants. Endosteal means “in the bone” and they are implants that are implanted deep into the jawbone. On the other hand, subperiosteal (“on the bone”) implants are inserted under the gums.

Endosteal implants are the most common type. They are shaped like small screws that can be ‘screwed’ in or inserted using a cone that mimics a natural root. They are usually made of titanium, one of the safest and most durable materials to use for the purpose. Surgically inserted deep into the jawbone, these implants take the place of roots and are more secured in place and are permanent. One or several teeth can be used as an anchor by the implant.

Subperiosteal implants are used in place of endosteal ones when there is not enough healthy jawbone available to support the implant. Hence, they cannot be drilled into the jaw, but instead are inserted under the gum forming a metal base and above the jawbone, or on top of the bone. This is an option by some who do not want to undergo the procedure of bone rebuilding.

Another type of dental implant, one that is the latest and not yet popular option is the zygomatic implant. Its procedure is rather complicated and complex. It requires placing the implant in the patient’s cheekbone. It is another option if the patient does not have enough healthy jawbone.