Dental implants are used in cosmetic dentistry procedures to affix dental prostheses, either dentures or individual replacement teeth. Dental implants are typically made of titanium or ceramic and are actually attached to the jaw in order to provide better function and support. About 15 million people in the U.S. who are missing teeth currently have traditional tooth-supported dental bridges, but these need replacing every 10 years at the most. Dental implants, on the other hand, can last a lifetime. Only about 3 million Americans currently have dental implants, but that number is growing by half a million each year.
Looking at illustrations or pictures of dental implants can best help you visualize dental implants, but below are some brief descriptions of the different types of dental implants so you can be better informed the next time you talk to your family dentist.
Endosseous implants, also known as root-form or endosteal implants, are placed within the bone. These are the most common kind of implants, and look similar to screws (though there are also blade-shaped endosteal implants). In order for these to be placed, the bone must be both deep and thick enough to support the implant, so bone that is too degraded may prevent implantation.
Subperiosteal implants are placed on top of the bone, beneath the gums. Basically, they are metal frameworks that are placed underneath gum tissue. Posts then stick up above the gums as attachment sites for replacement teeth.
Transosteal implants are placed through the bone. Two pins or a u-shaped frame, usually made of metal, are inserted through chin bone so that the rods are exposed inside the mouth. This technique was designed for use when a patient does not have enough healthy bone in the jaw for endosseous implants, but is now rarely used; the surgery is invasive and requires general anesthetic, which can be dangerous for some patients.
If you’re debating whether the cost of cosmetic dentistry is worth it, remember that the dental implants also serve a medical purpose. When you have natural teeth, your tooth roots stimulate bone renewal in your jaw. When a tooth is missing, this process stops and the jaw loses bone mass, crumpling in on itself and impairing speech and function. Dental implants stop this process from occurring, leading to better overall health.
Which of these types of dental implants are you considering? Share in the comments.
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