If you’re missing teeth, dental implants can help improve your quality of life – both functionally and aesthetically. Implants are the closest you’ll get to replacing your natural teeth, providing stability, strength, and a custom-designed fit.
The type of implant you receive depends on the shape and structure of your supporting jawbone. Your dentist or periodontist will be able to determine which type of dental implant will best help to restore your smile and allow you to achieve optimal oral health. Read on for more information about the different types of dental implants and how they work.
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that fuse to your jawbone, providing a sturdy, permanent support for restorations, like crowns. Constructed of durable titanium alloy, implants are considered far more comfortable and longer lasting than other tooth replacement solutions, such as bridges or dentures.
Most anyone with tooth loss is a candidate for dental implant surgery, but healthy gums and adequate bone structure are needed to support the implant.
Types of dental implants
There are two main types of dental implants used today:
1. Endosteal implants
These are the most common dental implants. Shaped like small screws, they are drilled directly into the jawbone, much like a natural tooth root. Patients who receive endosteal implants must have a sufficiently dense and healthy jawbone to support them.
2. Subperiosteal implants
Aging and tooth decay can cause deterioration of the jawbone, so for those with severe bone loss, a subperiosteal implant may be an option. Rather than drilled directly into the jawbone, subperiosteal implants are placed on top of the jaw bone but underneath the gum tissue. Once the gum heals, the crown can be installed atop the frame. This method is rarely used today.
Preparing your mouth for dental implants
Even if you’ve suffered bone loss in your upper or lower jaws, you may still be a candidate for endosteal implants. There are several procedures that can help rebuild your bone structure before your dental implant surgery, such as:
Your periodontist can perform a bone transplant using either bone removed from another area of your body or an alternate source, either cadaver or animal bone. After several months, new bone growth replaces the graft material, creating a strong base for an implant to be placed.
When your upper jaw doesn’t have enough bone to support an implant, grafting material can be added to the space above your molars and premolars in a procedure known as a sinus lift.
Sometimes, after a tooth is extracted, bone loss can occur in the remaining socket. A ridge augmentation recreates the natural contours of the space left behind by the missing tooth, building up enough bone to accommodate an implant.
What type of dental implant is best for me?
As you can see, dental implants aren’t one size fits all. Because so much depends on your individual anatomy, your periodontist will have to take a close look at both the internal and external structure of your teeth, jaw, and mouth before deciding on a treatment plan.
While x-rays are still the standard for evaluating tooth decay, 3D dental imaging machines can provide more details about your facial and oral framework, including bone structure and density. Using lower levels of radiation than a traditional x-ray machine, a 3D imaging device captures clear, precise images of your teeth, jaw, bones, nerves, and blood vessels to help your periodontist select the dental implants that will work best for you.
See our Dental Implant Frequently Asked Questions page here
Get Dental implants at San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry
If you’re suffering from tooth loss, dental implants may be just what you need. At San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry, we can help determine which type of dental implants is right for your individual needs. Using the state-of-the-art Planmeca Promax 3D Scanner, we’ll create a virtual model of your face and jaw before developing a treatment plan to reconstruct your smile. The end result is a healthy mouth full of strong, natural-looking teeth.
To make an appointment for a dental implant consultation with Dr. Kwok, call us at (619) 543-0905.