Types of Dental Implants

Dental implants provide a permanent solution to tooth loss, and they look and feel like natural teeth. Thanks to technological advancements, implants are now an affordable alternative to conventional dentures, available to a wider range of patients. Cleaning your teeth and eating with implants is the same as it was prior to tooth loss. Whereas traditional dentures can be uncomfortable, implants are secured firmly in your mouth, and after a while you’ll probably forget they’re even there.

Implants are titanium rods that are bonded to the jawbone to replace a tooth root. A lightweight but durable metal, titanium is compatible with the human body and actually stimulates bone growth. An abutment is fixed onto the implant, and then a crown is attached to it. Despite the rising popularity of implants, some people are unaware there are different types of dental implants. In fact, many different implant systems are available.

Standard Implants

Regular implants the same size as a tooth are the most common. Technically known as endosteal implants, they generally consist of two pieces with a diameter of 3.25 to 5 millimeters that are inserted into the bone socket of a missing tooth with an external screw. They can be used to replace a single tooth, a few teeth, or all your teeth.

Mini Implants

Mini implants, as the name suggests, are smaller than standard implants. They take the form of a solid, one-piece screw, less than 3mm in diameter, with a ball-shaped end that protrudes from the jawbone. Mini implants are also known as narrow diameter implants or small diameter implants (NDIs and SDIs).  Unlike regular implants, mini implants are suitable for patients who’ve lost a lot of jaw bone structure. Jaw bone atrophy can occur through periodontal (gum) disease, misalignment of teeth, or trauma when a tooth is knocked out. Another advantage of mini implants is that they avoid the need for major surgery. Anchors are inserted in the jaw during one relatively non-invasive treatment.

Micro Implants

Micro implants, which are even tinier than mini implants, are used when the space between teeth is extremely small but the patient wants a secure tooth replacement instead of a less stable bridge. Micro implants can also be used to secure temporary bridgework.

Implants for Overdentures

Implant-supported overdentures are used when a patient has lost all of their teeth, or all of the teeth on one jawline. According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, over 35 million people in the US are missing all their upper or lower teeth, or both. One problem of conventional dentures is that they can rub against the gum line, leading to bone loss. Implant overdentures avoid this issue. The implant elevates the denture above the gum line, protecting the bone structure beneath.

Implants for Fixed Bridges

Bridges supported by implants don’t rely on the surrounding teeth like traditional bridges. Instead, they’re supported entirely by the implant, providing more stability and security. This implant system is typically used to replace a single tooth but it can also provide support for a removable bridge.

Why Choose Dental Implants?

Dental implants are suitable for anyone healthy enough to have a routine tooth extraction. They hold many advantages over traditional dentures, including:

Natural look and feel. Implant-supported artificial teeth feel entirely normal once the implant has fused to bone. An implant will also look just like your natural teeth. Implant teeth are robust and stable, and let you eat and smile naturally because, unlike dentures, they never slip or shift. Implants also eliminate the problem of slurred speech that can be caused by loose-fitting dentures, and they retain the natural shape of your face.

Stimulation of bone growth. Traditional dentures and bridges can lead to bone weakening, because when the jaw bone is not supporting a tooth, it deteriorates. Implants, however, are unique in dentistry in promoting bone growth, and they have a success rate of up to 98 per cent.

Convenience. Implants become part of your mouth, and so eliminate having to constantly remove dentures and put them back in. Many people find removable dentures bothersome, but looking after implants is the same as brushing and flossing natural teeth. Individual implants also allow better access between teeth, which also improves oral hygiene.

Stability of adjacent teeth. Some tooth replacement systems can weaken adjacent teeth, but implants protect your healthy teeth. Implants also help to prevent healthy adjacent teeth from shifting.

Permanent solution. With proper care, implants should last a lifetime. Other tooth replacement methods, including bridges and removable dentures, may need swapping over time. A further advantage of implants is that cavities cannot develop in an implant-restored crown or replacement tooth.

Stronger bite. The biting force of conventional dentures is much less than that of natural teeth. Implant-retained dentures have a bite function just as strong as natural teeth.

Restoring Your Smile and Self-Esteem

Many middle-aged adults in the U.S. have lost at least one tooth through gum disease, decay or injury. When it comes to functionality and appearance, dental implants provide a secure foundation for permanent or removable artificial teeth. They can give you back your smile and self-confidence, and enable you to eat your favorite foods again, while preserving the structural integrity of your jaw by replacing the entire missing tooth structure, including the root.

Even if you have a shallow jawbone, subperiosteal implants can be placed beneath the gum line but above or on the jawbone, eliminating the need to rebuild the jaw. Whether an implant is right for you, and which type would be most appropriate, can only be determined by a dental implant specialist, like Dr. George Mitrogogos at Sanford Dental Excellence. Don’t hesitate to contact us today to learn more about dental implants and how they can work for you!