Dental implants are an effective way of restoring or replacing teeth that have been lost as a result of damage or decay. They provide an aesthetic replacement tooth while also maintaining stability and support through the use of artificial tooth roots that both stimulate the jaw bone and prevent bone loss. Nowadays, there are different options for dental implants and the type of implant depends upon the individual needs of the patient.
The two main types of dental implants are endosteal and subperiosteal. Endosteal implants are the most commonly used implant and are placed directly into the jawbone through the use of small, titanium screws. Because they are placed directly into the jaw bone, endosteal implants usually require two surgeries. During the first surgery, the implant is inserted into the jaw bone. Then, over the course of approximately 3-6 months, a period of osseointegration occurs. Osseointegration is when the bone fuses around the implant, securing it into place. Once osseointegration has taken place, then the second procedure can occur. During this second procedure, a post is attached to the implant that will allow an artificial tooth to then be mounted.
The second type of dental implant, subperiosteal implants, are placed either on or above the jawbone. These types of implants are not as common and are generally used when a patient does not have enough bone mass to support an endosteal implant or when they are unable or unwilling to undergo a bone augmentation procedure to improve their bone mass. Subperiosteal implants are composed of a metal frame with protruding posts. This frame is placed on top of the jaw bone, but under the gum line and the post then protrude out of the gum line. Once the gums heal, the frame is fixed to the jaw bone and artificial teeth can be attached to the posts.
In addition to the two common types of implants, there are also other types of implants you may be able to choose from. These include mini implants, immediate load dental implants, and all-on-4 implants. Although these implants are not as common as the aforementioned two, they have specific uses that may address your individual dental needs.
Mini dental implants, or MDIs, are exactly what their name suggests; mini implants. These implants are smaller in diameter than normal implants, measuring in at the diameter of a toothpick. Their smaller size allows them to be less invasive, however because of their smaller size they are usually used to provide stability rather than full support to teeth.
Immediate load dental implants have a reputation for being the “Teeth in a Day” implants because their process is so immediate compared other implants. Immediate load implants can be placed and have artificial teeth placed all in the same day. However, the teeth that are placed with this type of implant is usually temporary and will need to be replaced with a permanent tooth at some point. These implants work well for people with good bone mass.
The final type, all-on-4, or AO4, are used when multiple implants need to be placed. They can also be used to secure dentures. AO4 implants can replace the entire span of upper or lower teeth by only using for dental implants as anchor points. With AO4 implants, the implants and temporary artificial teeth can all usually be placed in a day. Once healing has occurred, then permanent teeth can be placed.