Everything You Need to Know About Dental Implants
If you have lost one or more teeth, dental implants are one of the best treatments available. They restore the function and appearance of your smile, provide increased stability to your bite, lower your chances of tooth decay and gum disease, and prevent bone loss in your jaw. All of this is vital in maintaining your oral health and restoring your self-confidence. Learn about the different dental implant types and techniques from this article.
When you receive dental implants, your treatment is customized just for you; we assess the condition of your jawbone to determine which type of dental implant you need or what techniques we may need to use to place your implant. If you’re thinking about getting a dental implant, there’s a lot of information on the internet to sort through. Here’s a breakdown of the basic facts about implants to get you started.
Dental Implant Types
There are two main types of dental implants. The first type, called endosteal implants, are probably what you think of when you picture implants. Endosteal implants consist of a titanium rod that’s embedded directly into your jawbone and topped with a crown. They can prevent and, to some extent, reverse bone loss in your jaw; during the healing process, your jawbone grows around the titanium rod, securing it even more tightly in place. If you have lost too much bone in your jaw, endosteal implants can be difficult to place.
Your dentist may be able to repair the bone loss in your jaw using a bone graft, but this procedure adds several months to the already long process of getting an implant. Bone grafting involves inserting bone, either from another area of your body or from a donor, into the part of your jaw that needs it. Once you receive a bone graft, your jaw must heal and grow for at least three months before you can begin the process of getting an implant.
Subperiosteal implants are metal frames that are often used when the bone loss in your jaw is too severe for your dentist to place endosteal implants. The metal frames are attached directly to your jawbone but beneath your gums, with metal attachments for your crown or a bridge that rises above the gum line. Subperiosteal implants are much less common than endosteal implants, however, because the methods of reversing bone loss in the jaw have vastly improved in recent years.
Endosteal Implant Procedure
When you receive an endosteal implant — one of the dental implant types you can consider, there are two different techniques for placing your implant; your dentist may use either of these methods depending upon your individual case. The first method is called a two-stage procedure. Using this method, your first procedure simply involves embedding the titanium rod into your jawbone, after which your dentist will close your gums over the titanium rod using sutures. Your jawbone will need to heal and grow around the rod for six to 12 weeks, anchoring it more securely in place. Once it’s healed, your dentist will reopen your gums to expose the implant rod. They’ll attach a piece of metal called an abutment to the rod and suture your gums closed around; this is where your crown will be placed later. Once the abutment is in place, your dentist will make a mold of your teeth, which will be used to create your crown. Your gums will need to heal for another few weeks before you can receive your crown, however. During your final appointment, your dentist will place your crown and check your bite to ensure that it fits perfectly.
The other type of procedure, called a one-stage procedure, takes less time than the traditional two-stage procedure but has a few drawbacks. After embedding the titanium rod into your jawbone, your dentist will cover it with a healing cap to prevent your gums from healing closed over the rod; this allows your crown to be placed sooner. Your dentist will take a mold of your teeth after the first procedure to help make your dental crown. You still need to heal for six to 12 weeks, but your dentist can place your crown during your next appointment. The second appointment simply involves taking the healing cap off the titanium rod, replacing it with an abutment, and placing your crown.
Two-stage procedures do take longer than one-stage procedures, but they’re more common because they increase the likelihood that your implant will succeed. The technique your dentist decides to use will depend upon your individual needs.
Subperiosteal Implant Procedure
Since subperiosteal implants are dental implant types which are placed directly on your jawbone, the metal frame itself needs to fit the unique contours of your jawbone, so it must be customized for you. As a result, your first appointment simply involves your dentist making an incision in your gums to expose your jawbone and taking a mold of it. They will then suture your gums closed. You can undergo your second procedure once the metal frame has arrived; your dentist will reopen your gums and attach the metal frame to the bone, closing your gums with sutures but allowing the metal where your crown will sit to protrude from your gums. After your gums have healed, you’ll come back for a third appointment, so your dentist can place your crown or bridge.
Receiving a dental implant may sound intimidating and painful, but improvements in modern dentistry have made the procedures themselves completely painless. You’ll experience some pain during the healing process, but this can be managed easily with ice and over-the-counter pain medications.
Once the process is complete, your implant will feel just as stable as a real tooth—and will look just as natural, too. If you’re considering getting an implant but have questions about what type of implant is right for you, feel free to call our office to schedule a consultation at any time.