If you are one of the millions of Americans who suffer tooth loss, help has arrived. Today, 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth. For decades, the only types of dental implants available were bridges and dentures but now the types of dental implants are nearly limitless. Periodontal disease, tooth decay, or injury can cause tooth loss in Americans of any age. Today’s dental implant options give you back the teeth you’re missing with the strength, appearance, and maintenance of regular, natural teeth.
What Is A Dental Implant?
Dental implants are basically replacement teeth. Dental implants are not dentures, they are actually implanted into the actual jawbone to mimic normal teeth. They provide a strong foundation for replacement teeth and function the exact same as strong, natural teeth.
They include a replacement root (called an implant post) and a replacement tooth (called a crown) attached together with a connector piece (called an abutment). These three pieces, implant post, abutment, and crown, work together to give you a natural looking and fully functioning mouth.
Different Types of Tooth Implants
While there are several methods and treatments for all types of dental implants, they all fall into one of two categories:
- Endosteal: These types of dental implants are placed in the jawbone and are made of titanium. This is the most common type of dental implant.
- Subperiosteal: For patients who do not have enough healthy jaw to rebuild it around the implant, a subperiosteal implant is used. This is placed under the gum.
Your dentist will recommend which types of dental implants are best for you and your treatment options. With each type, there are different coating, connector, and size options that your dentist will choose from.
Endosteal vs. Subperiosteal Dental Implants
Which one has a shorter treatment period?
Both types of dental implants require two separate dentist visits and a waiting period in between. However, the subperiosteal implants are a far shorter treatment period than endosteal implants. With an endosteal implant, the dentist drills into the jawbone to insert a titanium screw to act as the artificial root. The patient must wait several months for this to heal completely before finishing the treatment with the tooth implant. A subperiosteal implant is a similar process, but the waiting process is perhaps weeks, not months.
What if I have a narrow or decaying jawbone?
If you have a naturally narrow or decaying jawbone, an endosteal implant may not be an option at all. The titanium root must screw down into the jawbone, which means you need sufficient health and density in your bones to complete the treatment. A subperiosteal implant works better for those with narrow jawbone ridges. The base is a metal plate with an inverted u-shape that sits over the jawbone, held in place with gum tissue instead of going into the actual bone.
Which is more stable and durable?
An endosteal implant will feel more natural and stable compared to subperiosteal. The endosteal implant is a recreation of natural roots, giving them the ultimate in stability. Because subperiosteal implants don’t have roots into the jawbone, they don’t have the same level of stability. However, they will have more support than a denture and don’t typically feel unstable or unnatural while you chew.
Dental Implant Coatings
There are several different coatings that different types of dental implants can have. Your dentist will be able to select the one that is best suited for your needs. The actual implant, the screw, will most likely be made of titanium. The coating is a porous surface that contributes to more bone contact than a machined titanium surface. There are four coating options:
- Grit-blasted or acid-etched and roughened surface
- A microgrooved or plasma-sprayed titanium surface
- Plasma-sprayed hydroxyapatite coating
- Zirconia (nonmetal)
Dental Implant Connectors
Implants also use different types of connectors. For the most part, this is going to be the preference of your dentist. All of these connectors complete the job well and feel natural and comfortable. There are three main connector types:
- Internal Hex Connectors: Shaped like a hexagon, an internal hex connector is an opening in the implant head into which the restoration/abutment is screwed.
- External Hex Connectors: Also shaped like a hexagon, these connectors are atop the implant head.
- Internal Octagon Connectors: Shaped like an octagon, an internal octagon connector has an opening in the implant head into which the restoration/abutment is screwed.
Different Sizes of Dental Implants
Depending on where in the mouth the implant needs to be placed, that will determine the size of implant that is needed. There are nearly endless sizing options that can be custom made and combined to ensure any types of dental implants are comfortable throughout your mouth.
- Standard Platform: These are most commonly placed toward the front of the mouth. Standard dental implants range in size from 3.5 mm to 4.2 mm in diameter.
- Wide Platform: These are placed primarily in the back of the mouth and range in size from 4.5 mm to 6 mm in diameter.
- Mini or Narrow Body: For patients with insufficient space between their tooth roots to accommodate a larger size, mini or narrow body dental implants can be used. These are also sometimes placed as temporary support.
Different Methods of Dental Implants
There are over 60 manufacturers of dental implants and restoration materials. This creates endless options for dentists to use to create a custom smile for each patient. The types of dental implants are categorized either by shape and placement or by the procedure used to place them.
- Immediate Load Dental Implants: Also known as Same-Day Dental Implants, this technique places a temporary crown on the same day that you have the dental implant surgically placed into your jaw. This allows you to look and function the same while the implant site heals and fuses with your jawbone, which typically take a few months. Same-day implants can be used as long as you have enough natural bone and an implant secure enough to support the placement.
- All-on-4: This type of dental implant is for people who have lost most or all of their teeth due to decay or gum disease. The whole process takes about six months, but temporary teeth are set the same day. Four dental implants are placed in available bone, and after healing the permanent replacement teeth are placed.
- Single Tooth Implant: If you have a gap or an isolated problem area, single tooth implants can create a seamless look and work perfectly.
- Multiple Implants: If you have several missing teeth, or a larger gap, you can use multiple implants. This type of dental implant is in between a full mouth replacement and a single tooth implant.
- Two-Stage Implants: This is a commonly used method with many types of dental implants. Stage one is where the implant is surgically placed in the jawbone, level with the gumline. The gum tissue is then given time to heal before stage two, which is when a second surgery allows the abutment to be attached and the treatment is complete.
- Single-Stage Implant: Rather than placing the implant in the jawbone, this method uses a longer one-piece implant that actually protrudes through the gum allowing a crown to be without additional surgery to uncover the implant. The implant and healing abutment are immediately connected during the initial surgery. This is often seen as a one-stop-shop, because there’s just one surgery, but the downside of this method is that the implant is vulnerable to external forces and extra caution must be taken to make sure that it heals properly.
- Mini Dental Implants (MDIs): These are an especially small implant that are most commonly used to secure a complete upper or lower denture. This type of dental implant is less invasive and may also be used for patients who are not candidates for traditional implants.
A Better Smile Is In Your Future
Dental implants are nearly impossible to detect; they function as your original teeth, and allow you to live your life in comfort and convenience. The newfound confidence that comes with fully functional teeth allows you to do things that you never thought possible.
In most cases, anyone committed to good oral hygiene and healthy enough to undergo oral surgery can be considered for a dental implant. Most full mouth reconstructions involve multiple phases and office visits but the results are absolutely priceless. We work with you to determine the types of dental implants, connectors, coating, and treatment process that works best for you to give the smile you’ve always dreamed of. Schedule a consult today!