Types of Dental Implants: Everything You Need to Know
If you have a missing or damaged tooth, you may feel quite alone and embarrassed about it. But there are approximately 178 million people in the US who are missing at least one tooth, commonly due to gum disease, decay, or an injury. Thankfully, many types of dental implants can be used to replace missing teeth for a result that looks completely natural.
Your smile is one of the most noticeable features on your face. It is something we remember about another person – and a great smile can really make you stand out from the crowd. But for the millions of people with missing teeth, smiling can be a source of insecurity.
Dental implants are designed to replace missing teeth with molds made from extremely strong porcelain with titanium bases. These implants are incredibly strong, long-lasting, and natural-looking. But depending on the placement and situation, there are specific types of dental implants that may be used.
But first, let’s explain what dental implants are compared to other missing teeth solutions like dentures, bridges, or veneers.
What Are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is inserted into the jawbone, just like natural teeth. This results in an extremely strong bond, so the implant stays in place. Dentures, on the other hand, sit on top of the jaw bone and are not permanently secured. These are also commonly used to fill in several missing teeth as opposed to just one.
Veneers and crowns are other options used to correct damaged teeth, but they will not replace a missing one. Unlike an implant, veneers and crowns are secured on top of the existing tooth.
Another similar option that can be used to replace missing teeth is a dental bridge. Rather than inserting the artificial implant, a bridge is connected as caps on the teeth on either side of the missing tooth. However, these do not last as long as implants, nor are they as secure.
Most Common Types of Dental Implants
If you have one or several missing teeth, your dentist will likely recommend a dental implant to fill in the gaps. If the missing space is not filled, your other teeth may shift, resulting in crooked teeth, pain and discomfort, and other dental issues. Having a dental implant can be a permanent solution that has up to a 98% success rate!
Here’s what you need to know about the various types of dental implants available:
1. Endosteal Implants
Perhaps the most common type of dental implant is endosteal, which is placed in the jaw bone. These implants have a titanium screw at the base with a porcelain tooth at the top. These are surgically inserted, and a bone grafting procedure may be needed first to ensure the implant takes hold.
2. Subperiosteal Dental Implants
If the jawbone is not strong enough or there is not enough space to insert an endosteal implant, a subperiosteal implant can be used. These are placed underneath the gum but not into the jawbone. A metal post will stick up through the gum so the implant can be connected.
This type of dental implant is not nearly as common, but it is an option if a bone graft is not an option to strengthen the bone for an endosteal implant.
Preparation for Types of Dental Implants
Sometimes, a patient will need prior procedures to prepare for a dental implant. People with poor overall dental health, gum disease, or weak jawbones may not qualify for either an endosteal or subperiosteal implant right away. In these instances, preparatory procedures may be necessary.
A. Bone Augmentation
First, a bone augmentation or graft may be performed to build a stronger base for the implant. Missing teeth often contribute to bone loss. After just one year, up to 25% of the bone beneath will erode, making it difficult to insert an implant.
A piece of healthy bone tissue is extracted and inserted into the jaw bone. It will take several months for this to graft and heal – but this procedure can strengthen the jaw enough for dental implant surgery.
B. Sinus Lift
If an upper tooth is missing, it can cause issues with the sinus cavities as the bone beneath deteriorates. This can cause sinus cavity collapse, which can weaken the facial bones. A sinus lift or augmentation is similar to a bone graft. Health bone tissue is harvested and added to the affected area to add support for the sinuses.
C. Ridge Expansion
Sometimes there is not enough room in the patient’s jaw for a dental implant to be inserted. This often happens when the surrounding teeth collapse into the missing space, creating a slimmer ridge of bone and gum in between.
A ridge expander is inserted into the tip of the jaw bone, wedging it open to create a wider base. A bone graft is then added to this wedged opening until it heels, creating a solid base for the implant.
FAQs About Dental Implants
Chances are that you have quite a few questions about the types of dental implants available. Signing up for any type of dental procedure can be quite frightening – it’s no wonder that over one-third of people admit to being quite nervous about seeing a dentist.
But knowing what to expect and how dental implants work can help to relieve some of your anxiety about the procedure. So, let’s address some of the common questions our patients have about dental implants.
What’s the Dental Implant Process?
The preparatory process for dental implants will look different from patient to patient. First, you will need to come in for an evaluation with a dentist to determine which type of implant will be the best option. This may require x-rays to evaluate how healthy and strong the bone beneath is and whether a bone graft, sinus lift, or ridge expansion is necessary. If any part of the tooth is still intact, this will need to be extracted.
If a graft or augmentation is necessary, it will take several months to heal completely before an implant can be inserted. A temporary cap or partial denture may be used to fill in the space and support the surrounding teeth until a permanent implant can be added.
Local anesthesia will be used on the day of the procedure to reduce any pain and discomfort during the insertion. You will only feel some pressure as the implant is inserted. Afterward, you may need to ice the outside of the jaw to reduce swelling and stick to soft foods and liquids for a few days.
After the titanium implant is added, a temporary cap will be added on top. This is done so the bone around the implant will heal correctly – which takes about 2 to 6 months. Afterward, a permanent tooth will be secured.
Does Insurance Cover Dental Implants?
The cost of dental implants may be covered by dental insurance under some circumstances. However, if the insurance company deems the implant to be a “cosmetic” procedure, it may not be covered.
Thankfully, there are financing options available to help cover the cost of dental implants. Some dentists offer payment plans and financing options to break down the payments.
How Do I Care for My Dental Implants?
Dental implants are made from extremely durable materials: titanium and porcelain. These are designed to last a lifetime, but they can get damaged if you don’t take care of them correctly.
You will need to visit your dentist for a follow-up exam a few days after your procedure. The dentist will look to make sure everything is healing correctly and that the implant is inserted correctly.
The best piece of advice is to care for an implant the same way you care for the rest of your teeth. Be sure to brush and floss every day and visit your dentists for regular exams. Notify your dentist if any changes occur to your gums or other teeth, as this could impact the success rate for your dental implant.
Interested in Getting Dental Implants?
Having a dental implant can change the way you view your smile – and it can also support an overall healthier mouth. If you have a missing or damaged tooth, you should address the issue as quickly as possible. Either type of dental implant could be the perfect solution, but the only way to know is to talk to a qualified dentist about your options.
At Jones & Copeland Smiles, our goal is to help our patients achieve the smile of their dreams through dental care and procedures. We specialize in dental implants, as well as bridges, veneers, partial and complete dentures, and other cosmetic dentistry options.
To learn more and schedule a consultation, reach out to Jones & Copeland Smiles to book an appointment at our Buford, GA location.