The Main Types of Dental Implants Explained

An estimated 178 million people in the US have at least one lost or missing tooth. Approximately 40 million are completely edentulous or have lost all their teeth.

If you are missing one or a few of your natural teeth yourself, consider getting dental implants. These oral fixtures serve as the closest replacement for lost permanent teeth. They not only closely resemble natural teeth; they also function similarly.

As for the different types of dental implants, you have two primary options to choose from. We’ll cover both in detail in this comprehensive guide, so be sure to keep reading.

An Overview of Dental Implants

Dental implants are metal fixtures surgically placed and fastened to the jawbone. They are either screw cylinders or wide, flat blades usually made of titanium. Titanium is the preferred material for surgical fixtures, thanks to its biocompatibility.

Biocompatibility, in turn, refers to a material’s compatibility with living tissue. Titanium is biocompatible with human tissue because of its high corrosion resistance. It’s non-toxic, strong, and also helps retain optimal pH levels in the body.

Dental implants function as a replacement for lost or missing teeth roots. They act as the stable, secure base of dental abutments, which are metal connectors. The abutments then hold and secure artificial teeth or dental bridges in place.

After the implants’ placement, they become “osseointegrated” or fused with the jawbone. It takes about a few months for these artificial tooth roots to become part of the bone itself. Once this happens, though, they provide great stability and support for artificial teeth.

The Two Primary Types of Dental Implants

The two main kinds of dental implants are endosteal and subperiosteal implants. Subperiosteal implants are also known as eposteal implants.

The chief difference between the two lies in their placement within the jawbone. However, of the estimated 450,000 tooth implants placed in the US each year, most are of the endosteal kind.

What Exactly Is an Endosteal Implant?

Endosteal implants are implants surgically inserted into the jawbone itself. Once fused with the bone, the oral surgeon screws the abutment into each artificial root. The connector protrudes through the gums, and the replacement tooth goes over it.

What About a Subperiosteal Implant?

A subperiosteal or eposteal implant goes over rather than into the jawbone. It sits right on top of the jawbone but beneath the gums. It consists of a saddle-like titanium frame that fits over the jawbone.

Once placed, the gums then grow and heal over the subperiosteal implant. This triggers the osseointegration process, fastening the frame to the bone.

From there, the oral surgeon attaches the abutment to the implant. After that, the artificial tooth can go over the metal connector.

The Advantages of Endosteal Implants

Most experts regard endosteal implants as the best dental implants as they go into the bone. Because of their placement within the jawbone, they provide more stability and support. It’s also their location that allows them to stimulate the jawbone better.

Jawbone stimulation, in turn, is crucial to keep the bone from resorbing or breaking down. This also the reason untreated tooth loss causes changes in one’s facial structure.

Endosteal implants also have a high success rate of over 90%. Proper placement, paired with care and maintenance, can make them last for 20 years or even longer.

Why Then Are Subperiosteal Implants Used?

The primary reason is that not all people are good candidates for endosteal implants. That’s because endosteal implants require patients to have enough jawbone. Not having enough bone can make endosteal implants fail.

Now, remember that subperiosteal implants go over the jawbone. As such, they can be an alternative for patients who can’t get endosteal implants due to a lack of bone.

Subperiosteal implants are stable and secure, thanks to their saddle-like frames. However, they lack the same level of stability that endosteal implants boast of. Again, that’s because subperiosteal implants only go on top of the jawbone.

If you have bone loss but would still like endosteal implants, you may be a good candidate for a bone graft. In this case, the oral surgeon will place additional bone material into the jawbone. This increases the bone’s mass and volume and might be enough to support an endosteal implant.

Other Key Considerations for Getting Dental Implants

You need to have healthy gums to be a good candidate for any type of dental implant. If you have gum disease, you can still be a good candidate once you have it completely treated. Healthy gums are crucial as their tissues heal way faster than diseased gums.

Moreover, getting dental implants with existing gum disease raises the risk of failure. For one, bacteria can get into the implants and cause deep infections. This can lead to severe pain, inflammation, and non-healing gum injury.

If those occur, the implant can fail, and the oral surgeon may have to remove the fixture.

It’s also vital to avoid using tobacco products before and during the entire process.

Keep in mind that tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 different chemicals. Of these, at least 250 are harmful to your overall health, with 69 even being cancerous. Smoking tobacco can also severely impair gum and bone healing and recovery.

Lastly, you must prepare yourself to commit several months to the implant process. You would still be able to speak and eat properly, but you need to be more cautious of what you eat. This helps ensure the proper healing of your gums and jawbone.

Put That Smile Back on Your Face With Dental Implants

There you have it, the most important facts you need to know about the main types of dental implants. Just remember that the endosteal implants are those that “enter” the jawbone. By contrast, the subperiosteal ones are those that go on the “surface” of the jawbone.

The most important thing is to get your implants only from a licensed oral surgeon. This ensures the proper and safe placement of the new teeth you can be proud to smile with.

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About the Author: Jacob Wyatt