What Are Dental Implants? An Inside Look At the Types and Uses

What Are Dental Implants? An Inside Look At the Types and Uses

Tooth loss is quite common among adults, especially as we grow older. In America alone, there are close to 35 million people who are missing either lower or upper teeth. Believe it or not, you are not alone.

Many people who seek missing teeth treatment have opted for dental implants instead of living with the discomfort of dentures. Currently, there are 3 million Americans who have implants, and the number keeps growing by 500,000 each year.

Are you missing some of your teeth? Would you like to smile confidently and eat whatever you want? If yes, you should consider getting dental implants. Implants are artificial tooth roots that support dental restorations such as crowns and dentures. Implants are made from titanium, an element that fuses well with your bone in a process known as osseointegration.

Dental Implants Overview

In a nutshell, think of implants as screw-shaped tooth roots. Not only do implants replace your teeth but also your tooth roots. They are the only dental procedure that replaces the tooth from the crown to the root.

Typically, there are two common types of implants: Endosteal and Subperiosteal. Endosteal implants are more common than subperiosteal. This is because subperiosteal implants are placed on the jawbone but under the gum line. Endosteal implants are more stable since they are inserted in the jawbone.

The Endosteal implants are made of three parts:

  • Implant. This titanium post is surgically inserted into your jawbone, then fuses with the bone to form an artificial root.
  • Abutment. This is the connector that links the implant to the artificial tooth.
  • Prosthesis. This is the visible part of the implant that feels, looks, and functions as the tooth. It can be a crown, denture, or bridge.

Other than the procedure used in implant dentistry, there are other methods of categorizing implants, including size and materials.

Dental Implants Treatment Procedure

Your dentist will take dental x-rays to determine whether you have enough bone to allow the placement of the artificial tooth roots. A periodontist or dentist will administer anesthesia and sedation before gently drilling holes in your bone. These holes accommodate the titanium tooth roots. After osseointegration, the dentist attaches abutment or connector posts and finishes the look with permanent dental crowns. Conventional implants have a treatment period of several months.

All-on-4® implants are an alternative to conventional dental implants. All-on-4 implants allow patients to receive teeth within a single appointment, sometimes known as teeth in a day. They feature four dental implants that support an entire arch of replacement teeth.

Advantages of Dental Implants

Whether you opt for conventional or All-on-4 implants, the good news is that plenty of benefits are associated with this choice of dental restoration. Implants prevent bite collapse by fusing with your jawbone and ensuring that your bone stays stimulated and protected against bone atrophy. Bite collapse refers to the changes in your facial structure that come about as a result of significant tooth loss.

Dental implants boost your confidence. Being able to smile confidently without inhibition is a bonus for your self-esteem. Dental implants look and feel natural; they don’t need special care and can last a lifetime with proper care.

Unlike dentures, which can sometimes feel uncomfortable, implants are a part of you and will never slip out of place in the middle of dinner or a conversation.

What is the most common type of material used for implants?

For many years, titanium was used to make dental implants. But, modern dental technology has made it possible for implants to be made from different materials. Much research has been done about these materials, including their chemical and physical properties.

For an implant to function as an excellent tooth replacement, it has to be sturdy and robust. For this reason, the most common types of implant materials that are used today are:

Titanium Implants

For a good reason, titanium is the most common material used to make implants. It is a biocompatible metal that can exist in harmony with your body tissues without causing any harm.
They also fuse with the bone, which aids in restoring and maintaining the jawbone after tooth loss.

Dental Implants: What You Should Know | FDA
image via fda.gov

Zirconia Implants

Zirconia is a recent invention compared to titanium, which has been used since the 1950s. They do not come in two parts as titanium, which makes them excellent in reducing the chances of bacteria hiding and infecting the gums. Their ceramic design are yet to be fully appreciated.

Implant Tribune - Evolution in Implant Dentistry
image via Implant Tribune

Why Do You Need Dental Implants?

Dental implants are an excellent root and tooth replacement if you have lost a tooth, several or all of your teeth. You will not need an implant for every missing tooth if you have lost all your teeth. This is where All-on-4 implants come in handy. This type of implant can be used to restore an entire arch of your top or bottom teeth.

If you have lost a tooth, there are options like dentures, bridges, or implants. You can go for dentures since they are cheap and relatively easy to get, but they aren’t desirable and comfortable. They can affect your speech or mess with your taste buds a bit.

On the other hand, you have bridges that depend on other teeth for anchorage. This leaves you with implants as the only viable option.

Implants are the only option that doesn’t use your other teeth for anchorage, but they use the jawbone instead. They also mimic the look and function of your natural teeth.

Can Anyone Get Implants?

Typically, you can be considered for an implant if you are healthy enough to withstand a surgical extraction or oral surgery. But you need much more to get an implant. This means you need to have healthy gums and enough healthy bone to accommodate and hold the implant in place.

It would also suit you if you could commit to several months of dental visits since the process takes quite some time before it is complete. Other than that, it would help if you had proper dental habits to ensure the process is successful.

Other than that, a dentist will have to examine if:

  • You suffer from an uncontrolled condition such as diabetes which inhibits proper healing
  • You are a heavy smoker
  • You have undergone radiation therapy in the neck or head region.

The dentist has to examine the above factors since they might hinder you from getting an implant.

The best part about getting dental implants is that you are not only replacing your smile but also restoring the normal function of your teeth.

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