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 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.
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 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.
Dental implants are known today as the most reliable means of replacing a natural tooth or mineralized structure. This is because a dental implant is manufactured using only the finest materials that can last for years and years once they are placed in the oral cavity, thus most dentists tell their patients that implants can and will last forever. This is one of the biggest advantages of getting a dental implant over any other means of dental restoration. A dental implant has the ability to integrate with the bone of the jaw to give the maximum amount of strength needed to replace a natural tooth. It is also a fact that dental implants surgeries are one of the most expensive surgeries in dentistry, but with new research and studies, it is possible to get an implant at more affordable rates than before.
What is the cost of a single implant?
It is a fact that a dental implant is easily the most effective and durable replacement for a natural tooth for patients who can afford it. It is true that one single implant can cost much more than any other form of restorative procedure that is used to save teeth. Most health insurance policies across the globe consider implants as part of cosmetic dentistry and may not cover the complete cost of the surgery, which is a leading reason for why many people refrain from opting for dental implants.
The exact cost a single implant cannot be quoted because it varies from region to region and is different with different dental implant surgeons. In the United States of America however, a single dental implant may cost patients up to $5000, although there are a number of implant dentists who will quote a price less than that. The reason as to why the dental implants cost as much as they do is because their fabrication requires the usages of some expensive materials such as crown and titanium post. These two are the most important components of the implant and cannot be replaced with other materials because of their durability and other properties.
Studies and researches are being carried out all over the world to make implant surgeries less invasive, and to make the size of the implant smaller than the conventional implants. This will not compromise on the strength or durability of the implants, but may successfully reduce the total cost of an implant surgery to make it affordable for other patients who require it.
For many years, dental implants to proven to be highly successful in restoring the natural structural and functional integrity of the teeth. They have given many patients the opportunity to look and feel like they used to before losing their teeth, restoring their ability to speak and chew normally and to look completely natural and younger again.
As all treatments come with their own advantages and disadvantages, dental implants are no different. This article focuses on just those.
Advantages of Dental implants
- Implants allow complete restoration of proper masticatory function, making chewing food as easy as it always was before tooth loss.
- Implants can restore one’s complete confidence to smile and talk freely, without worrying about dislodgement of the replacement teeth or crown.
- Implants are closest match to a natural tooth, including attachment to natural bone.
- Implants do not require the need for adhesive pastes that are needed for retaining dentures- in fact they can help to anchor complete dentures in place firmly.
- Implants are completely independent of the adjacent teeth and pose no harm to them in terms of reducing healthy tooth structure as is the case for bridges, or using the adjacent teeth for support with clasps as with partial dentures.
- Implants do not irritate the gums or other tissues in the mouth as they are made of completely biologically friendly materials such as titanium, with porcelain crowns to replace the lost crown.
- They allow clear and easy speech which is normally impaired by partial or complete dentures, as these prostheses are slightly bulkier than the normal dentition.
- Dental implants can help stop the progressive bone resorption associated with lack of use of the area where a tooth is lost.
- Implants get osseointegrated within the bone, acting like a completely natural tooth’s root firmly embedded within the jaw bone.
- Dental implants are clinically proven to have shown success rates higher than 90%.
Disadvantages of Dental implants
Following are some of the major disadvantages of dental implants:
- Dental implants require a surgical procedure to be performed in order to be placed where as other dental restorative techniques do not require surgery.
- Implants take time- The healing time for an implant within the bone can greatly vary, usually ranging between a few weeks to a few months. There is a thus a lengthier treatment time as compared to other treatments for replacing lost teeth.
- Dental implants cost a lot more than other dental procedures. The cost of the implant alone is extremely high. The procedure itself has its own separate cost, making the overall cost of dental implants quite high.
- Dental insurance plans don’t normally cover dental implants.
- The dental restoration placed upon the implant may need to be replaced someday as it is no different from a normal crown or bridge.
Implantation is a technique-sensitive procedure and can be subject to failure and lead to bone necrosis if the technique goes even slightly wrong, so only a highly skilled, experienced dentist can perform a successful implant surgery and placement.
Implants permanently replace missing teeth and give excellent results, both functionally and esthetically. A single missing tooth can be a source of great esthetic insecurity for a person. In the elderly, completely missing teeth compromise their ability to chew and speak. Be it a single lost tooth or multiple missing teeth, implants can be used to restore one’s natural smile and functional ability to speak and chew as freely as they did before.
What is a Dental Implant?
Dental implants are prosthetic replacements for lost teeth. The implant replaces the root, and a prosthetic crown to replaces the missing tooth, which is placed over the implant. The typical implant is like a metallic screw which is shaped in a way to replace the root of a tooth. This is placed within the bone where the previous tooth existed. There is a root portion of the implant which replaces the root, while the exposed portion of the implant supports a dental prosthesis. Dental implants can be used to support a crown, dental bridge and even a complete denture to restore the natural function of the lost teeth.
What is an implant made of?
Dental implants are mostly made of the biofriendly metals titanium and nickel, of which titanium is the most common. Titanium has the unique capability of attracting osteoblasts or bone cells towards its self. After a titanium implant has been placed, osteoblasts begin to collect and grow around the implant, gradually stabilizing it and embedding it firmly within the bone. This phenomenon is called “osseointegration”, where the implant integrates itself deep within the bone by the deposition and growth of newly formed bone surrounding it.
What are the different types of Dental Implants?
Dental implants come in a variety of types according to the individual requirements of every patient. The different types of dental implants are:
- Root-form implants: These replace tooth roots and are the most commonly used type of implant.
- Plate-form implants: These are used in areas of very narrow alveolar bone, and are shaped like a plate to fit into a narrow bony ridge. They are also known as Blade-form implants.
- Sub-periosteal implants: This type of implant is a custom-made tray that fits over the bone beneath the gum, when there is insufficient height and width of bone available for any other type of implant.
How are Dental Implants placed?
Placing dental implants is relatively simple though every case differs in complexity. Before placement, your dentist assesses the condition of bone available through X-rays or CT Scans. The type of implant to be used is then decided to best suit the patient. Following is the implant procedure:
- The dentist with administer local anesthesia or general anesthesia to effectively numb the area.
- An incision in the gingiva is made and a handpiece is used to drill holes within the bone into which the implant is to be placed.
- The implant is fitted into the hole and screwed or tightened securely for superior stability.
- Care is taken not to use excessive pressure while drilling and placing the implant, to avoid bone necrosis due to heat.
- The implant is then allowed to heal within the bone for a few weeks to months, depending on the complexity of the procedure.
After the gingiva and alveolar bone have healed, any prosthesis such as a crown, bridge or a denture is placed over the implant, restoring the natural function and esthetics of the lost teeth.
There is more than one way to replace a lost tooth, be it with a removable partial denture, a dental bridge or a dental implant. In this day and age, bridges and implants are two most commonly used methods for replacing missing teeth and in this article we will analyze the differences between the two deciding on which is better in the longer run.
Implant or Bridge?
Both, implants and dentures share the same aim- to restore the natural function of the teeth by replacing those that are lost. The difference between the two lies in their method of placement and by what means they are placed. To begin with, bridges simply fill the gap in between two teeth created by a lost tooth, by taking support by the adjacent two teeth. The replacement tooth itself is called the pontic and the adjacent supporting teeth are called the abutments.
Dental implants on the other hand replace the entire lost root of a tooth, upon which a prosthetic tooth or crown is then placed to replace the lost crown of the tooth. In essence, implants replace the entire missing tooth as a whole.
In the end, both dental bridges and implants serve to restore the esthetics and function of the missing teeth. However, which one is preferable is the matter of debate.
Based on their mode of function, dental bridges involve using the adjacent teeth and taking healthy tooth structure from them, in comparison to implants which are independent of the adjacent teeth. This is because dental bridges require cutting down natural tooth structure of the abutment teeth to place crowns over them, to which the pontic is attached.
On the other hand, implants involve cutting through the gum in the empty space and placing the screw-shaped implant into the underlying bone and then placing a crown over the implant, replacing the entire lost tooth.
We can see that the dental bridge does not require surgery whereas the implant does, which is the main part of its placement process. This makes the implant more demanding regarding its placement procedure but it is lesser work than cutting and harming the adjacent teeth as is required for a bridge.
Dental bridges generally cost much lesser than dental implants. This is due to the fact that dental bridges make use to the basic materials used for a crown, where as an implant is made of the precious metal Titanium upon which the crown is then placed. However, dental implants can be treated as a normal, natural tooth once they have fully adapted to the bone and settled within the mouth, whereas the bridges may require frequent visits to the dentist if any discomfort or problems arise. Also, a bridge has the risk of becoming dislodged or breaking if exposed to excessive chewing forces or hard food substances. Thus, in the longer run, implants seem to be more cost effective and far more convenient.
Esthetically, dental implants with a well-made crown give an absolutely natural appearance once they are in place and do not involve the adjacent, natural teeth. Bridges compromise the healthy tooth structure of abutment teeth and the overall fabricated prosthesis is less natural looking, as it involves using a metal base under the white crown material over the cut-down abutment teeth. Needless to say, a dental bridge can be far less flattering than a completely natural looking dental implant.
All in all, most dentists prefer dental implants over dental bridges. The fewer visits to the dentist for the implant process, the long-term to long-long efficiency, the fact that they promote bone growth, look and feel completely natural, conserve other natural teeth and even the fact that their expensive treatment is worth it, makes dental implants a better option.