Dental implants are artificial tooth roots used to support a restoration for a missing tooth or teeth, helping to stop or prevent jaw bone loss. The implantation procedure is categorized as a form of prosthetic (artificial replacement) dentistry but also is considered a form of cosmetic dentistry.
People who have lost teeth might feel too self-conscious to smile or talk. Additionally, biting irregularities caused by tooth loss can have a negative effect on eating habits, leading to secondary health problems like malnutrition.
By replacing missing tooth roots, dental implants provide people with the strength and stability required to eat all the foods they love, without struggling to chew. Additionally, they help to stimulate and maintain jaw bone, preventing bone loss and helping to support facial features.
Teeth are lost because of:
- Tooth decay
- Root canal failure
- Gum disease (Periodontitis)
- Trauma to the mouth (tooth injury)
- Excessive wear and tear
- Congenital defects
To determine if implants are right for you, a consultation with your dentist, oral surgeon, and/or periodontist or prosthodontist is needed. During this appointment, your dental professional will thoroughly examine your teeth and gums and evaluate bone density and quantity. This may involve X-rays and computed tomography scans (CT scans) to ensure there is sufficient bone structure for placing the implant(s), and to determine exactly where they should be placed.
Based on the condition of your oral tissues, oral hygiene and personal habits, and commitment to follow aftercare instructions, your dentist will advise you of the most appropriate treatment plan. Some patients with insufficient bone or gum tissue require bone or soft tissue grafts and/or the use of small diameter implants (also called mini implants).
Depending on your situation, your dental professional will advise you of how long the entire treatment process will take, how many appointments will be necessary and what you can expect after each procedure. During the consultation, options for local anesthesia (to numb the affected and surrounding areas) and sedation dentistry, if necessary, also will be discussed. The estimated cost of your dental implants will also be discussed during this meeting. Costs can vary significantly based on the type of treatment you opt for (amongst other things).
Types of Dental Implants
More than 60 companies manufacturer dental implants and/or the materials used to create the restorations placed on top of them. As a result, dentists have many options for identifying the right treatment for specific patient needs. However, be aware that if you undergo an implant procedure by one dentist, then see a different dentist for a repair, your new dentist may have limited experience with, or may not have access to, the material components used by the previous dentist.
Dental implants usually are categorized based on the type of procedure used to place them: two-stage or single stage.
Two-Stage Implants: A two-stage procedure involves surgery to place the implant into the jaw bone and close (stitch) the gum tissue. Several months after healing, a minor surgery is performed to attach an abutment and temporary restoration.
Endosteal (Endosseous) Implants: Placed in the jaw bone, endosteal are the most commonly used type for two-stage implant procedures. Placed primarily as an alternative to a bridge or removable denture, endosteal implants include screw types (threaded), cylinder types (smooth) or bladed types.
Single-Stage Dental Implants: A single-stage procedure involves surgically placing a longer implant into the jaw so it is on the jaw bone, with the top level with the gum tissue, after which the gum tissue is closed (stitched), leaving the implant head visible. As a result, after several months of healing, the abutment and temporary restoration can be attached without the need for minor surgery to expose the head.
Subperiosteal Implants: Placed on the jaw bone within the gum tissue, with the metal implant post exposed to hold the restoration, subperiosteal are the most commonly used type for single-stage dental implant procedures. Subperiosteal are primarily used to hold dentures in place in patients with insufficient bone height.