If you are looking for a permanent replacement for missing or severely damaged teeth, dental implants could be the perfect solution. However, most people outside the dental field are not familiar with the types of dental implants that are available and may have concerns about the procedure. Here is an explanation of three common types of dental implants.
The standard type of dental implant is known as an endosteal implant. These implants are made up of titanium screws that are installed directly in the jawbone, and an abutment that erupts from the top of the gums where your tooth is missing. A dental crown made from porcelain, ceramic, or metal is cemented onto the abutment. Dental crowns are made to be identical to your natural teeth in size and shape. Porcelain and ceramic crowns will be completely unnoticeable because they match the color of the rest of your teeth.
Dentists will install endosteal implants using either a one- or two-stage process. One-stage implants are installed and equipped with permanent crowns in one visit. Two-stage implants are instead equipped with a temporary healing crown for four to six weeks, and then a permanent crown is placed on a second visit. Two-stage implants are typically used when immediate cosmetic restoration is not necessary to minimize the risk of infection, as the healing socket is less exposed to bacteria in the mouth.
Dental bridges are a useful tool for permanent restoration of multiple adjacent teeth. Instead of installing individual implants for each missing tooth, the dentist uses an attached row of dental crowns. The crowns are anchored to the jawbone by a single implant on each end while the middle crowns rest on top of the gum tissue.
One of the most significant dental problems that you can face if you have multiple missing teeth is bone and gum tissue recession. The more teeth are missing, the more likely the bone and tissue around the missing teeth is to wear away over time. Dental bridges put pressure on the section of gums that they cover, stimulating them and helping to protect them from recession. The implants on either end of the bridges also help to support the jawbone and prevent additional wear.
In some cases, advanced bone recession can prevent endosteal implants from being viable. While bone grafting surgery can sometimes be used to provide the additional foundation required to install endosteal implants, many patients do not wish to undergo such an invasive procedure. In these cases, dentists can offer subperiosteal implants as an alternative.
Subperiosteal implants do not involve any drilling into the jawbone whatsoever. For these types of implants, a metal frame is installed under the gums that rests on the top of the jawbone. A metal post extends upward from the frame through the gums, and the dental crown is attached to the top of the post. These implants are quicker to install than endosteal implants, and they also have a shorter healing time.
While subperiosteal implants are much less intrusive than endosteal implants, they are used less often because they are not as well anchored to the jawbone. This means there is a greater chance the dentist will need to provide additional care for the implant in the future. Endosteal implants provide a safe, permanent bond that rarely needs to be serviced because they fuse to the jawbone through a process called osseointegration.
Dental implants are a permanent, safe, and effective option to replace missing teeth. Use this explanation of the different types of dental implants to have an informed discussion with your dentist and find the best solution for your smile.
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