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Dental Implant Types

October 11, 2012   

Dental implants are metal dental appliances which are drilled into the jaw bones to replace roots of missing teeth and to act as anchors for prosthetic teeth or crowns. The amount of healthy bone present in jaws for support is a key factor in determining what type of dental implant may be placed within it, as not all types of dental implants may be suitable for every individual’s case. Following is a discussion on the different types of dental implants.

Root-form Implants

Root form implants are the typical dental implant types, which are meant to replace the missing root. They are shaped like the roots and look like a standard screw with grids along their length. They are drilled into place within the alveolar bone and are indicated in areas with plentiful bone support. A small incision is made in the area of the bone where the previous tooth existed and where the implant needs to be placed, and then a hole is drilled into the bone within which the implant is then placed. The implant is then left in place to heal and become ‘osseointegrated’ or fused within the bone while the overlying gums are sutured and heal around the exposed implant abutment. After an adequate healing time, a crown is placed over the abutment to replace the lost tooth.

Plate-form Implants

These are flat, plate-like implants used in areas of the jaw where there is inadequate amount of bone remaining. The alveolar ridge is too narrow, is subject to fracture and a root form implant cannot be used in such areas. Plate form implants work best here, which are placed into the long, narrow bone ridge after surgical exposure by the dentist, leaving only the abutments exposed. After a healing period and adequate osseointegtration, crowns are placed over the abutments, restoring the function of teeth.

Sub-periosteal Implants

Sub-periosteal implants are placed below the gums and periosteum but over the bone of the jaws. They are indicated in areas where excessive bone resorption has occurred and the bone remaining is too thin for even a plate-form implant.

The procedure for placing this type of implant is more complex, and can be done in two ways. One method involves a dual surgery procedure where the bone is first exposed and an impression is taken of it for fabricating a custom-made implant. The gums are sutured and left to heal while the implant is made. In the second surgery, the bone is re-exposed and the implant is placed over it, leaving the abutments exposed for crown placement.

The second method is a single surgery technique, in which after appropriate CAT scan imaging and a model of the patient’s jaw bone is made, a pre-fabricated implant is placed in one surgical sitting. Crowns are then placed over the abutment after healing in both cases.

Mini Dental Implants

These are just like root-form implants except that they are smaller, much narrower in diameter and are meant to act as anchors for dentures. They have ball-shaped abutments for easy fitting and removal of the dentures.

Immediate Load Dental Implants

These implants are placed directly after extracting a tooth, eliminating the need for a separate surgical exposure of the healed bone. They are placed right into the extraction socket of the tooth and a crown is placed over the abutment right after, allowing the whole implant to heal within the bone along with the extraction socket simultaneously.