Types of Dental Implants

by Dental-Pedia

Dental implants are the best teeth replacement options for patients missing one, multiple, or even all their teeth. Dental implants replace the root structures of the missing teeth, thereby becoming an integrated part of the patient’s dental anatomy. However, prosthodontists must consider several options when selecting the ideal dental implants for you. They must select the ideal placement style for the implants, materials, anatomy, restoration options, size, and various other factors. 

This article provides an overview of the types of dental implants according to multiple variables.

Placement

Endosteal Implants

Endosteal implants are the most common types of implants, necessitating a strong and healthy jawbone for osseointegration (the process that facilitates the fusion of the implant with the jawbone). Endosteal implants are screwed into the jawbone — over time, the jawbone heals around the implant, making it a firmly-rooted part of your anatomy. You can only get endosteal implants if you have sufficient jawbones to support the dental restoration.

Subperiosteal Implants

Subperiosteal implants are far less common than endosteal implants. Instead of screwing into the jawbone, subperiosteal implants rest atop the jawbone but underneath the gum tissues. The gum eventually heals around the implant, holding it in place. The prosthetic teeth are attached to the subperiosteal implants after the healing is complete. This procedure is meant for patients with insufficient jawbone, but it’s not as firmly secured as an endosteal implant.

Materials

Titanium Implants

Titanium is the most common material for dental implants because it has been used since the 1950s. Titanium is light, strong, and biocompatible, making it a suitable option for dental implants. Furthermore, titanium bonds perfectly with the surrounding jawbone, and there are decades of clinical evidence to support its application. However, recent studies have shown that titanium implants have the risk of titanium sensitivity, peri-implantitis, and allergies.

Zirconia (Ceramic) Implants

Zirconia (ceramic) implants are quickly being established as the gold-standard for implants. It might soon replace titanium as the primary choice of material for dental implants. Ceramic implants are completely metal-free, so there’s no risk of allergic reactions. Patients are also drawn to ceramic implants because they resemble natural bone tissues — as such, even if you experience gum recession, the ceramic implants won’t become visible. Studies show that zirconia implants have a similar success rate as titanium implants with lower sensitivity and allergy risks.

Anatomy

1-Piece Implants

A 1-piece implant comes as a single component — the implant and the abutment are fused. As such, the patient can get the entire dental implant in a single surgical process — there’s no need for separate surgeries for the implant and the abutment. Furthermore, since the abutment is attached immediately, the patient can get the dental prosthetic the very next day without waiting for the osseointegration to finish. However, 1-piece implants are far more likely to get damaged because the abutment lies above the jawbone, making it vulnerable to external damage. If any part of the implant is damaged, you need a separate surgery to replace the complete implant.

2-Piece Implants

A 2-piece implant comes in two components — the screw-like implant and the abutment. After the patient receives the dental implant, they have to wait several months before receiving the abutment. Once the osseointegration is complete, the abutment is cold-welded or cemented to the implant in a separate procedure. As such, the patient receives the prosthetic after several months, after the abutment placement surgery. However, 2-piece implants are also more durable — if the prosthetic or abutment is damaged, the patient only needs to replace the damaged components and not the underlying implant.

Restoration

Crowns

A dental crown is a tooth-shaped and tooth-colored prosthetic attached to the implant. The crown can be made from various materials, but composite resin and porcelain are the most popular because of their natural appearance. A crown is attached to a single dental implant, thereby replacing an individual tooth. As such, dental crowns are the ideal restoration option for patients missing a single tooth or multiple teeth in different positions.

Bridges

A dental bridge is a series of two or more fake teeth. The bridge consists of “pontics” in the middle and “connectors” on either side. As such, the connectors are attached to the implants on either side of the missing teeth. This is the ideal option for patients missing more than two teeth because they can replace the entire series with only two implants on either side.

Dentures

A complete denture is a complete arch of fake teeth supported by a gum-colored base. If the patient is missing all their teeth on either jaw, they can get four to six strategically-positioned implants to support the entire denture. As such, complete dentures are ideal for edentulous patients, i.e., those missing all their teeth. Instead of getting implants for all the teeth, the patient can replace the entire set of teeth with just 4 implants.
During your consultation, your prosthodontist should discuss all your dental implant options, including the placement style, restoration options, and other factors. They should highlight the unique advantages and disadvantages of all options, giving you all the information you need to make an informed decision.

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