When a dentist recommends a dental implant procedure, patients often wonder what the procedure involves and how long the process is. Implants can be an option for people who have lost one or many teeth and are looking for a replacement option other than removable dentures. The goal of the procedure is to leave the…
Common Types of Dental Implants and Restorations
Dental implants are special dental restorations made to replace a lost tooth. The implant is composed of two parts — the post, which replaces the tooth root, and the restoration. The post sits inside the jawbone and supports the crown or any compatible dental restoration.
How dental implants work
The implant itself is a little, screw-shaped post manufactured from titanium or zirconium. Both materials are biocompatible metals, meaning they have a special ability to fuse with the gums and jawbone naturally, which is why they are preferred for dental implants.
The implant is inserted into the socket which the lost tooth used to occupy, and it primarily functions as the prosthetic tooth root. The implantation procedure requires minimally invasive surgery, after which the bone will be allowed to heal around the implant (osseointegration) to create a solid fusion.
After osseointegration, the implant will be strong enough to support different types of restorations such as crowns, bridges or dentures.
Types of implants and restorations
There are up to 40 varieties of traditional implants. There are the normal-sized implants typically used when the jawbone has sufficient mass for implants, as well as two other variants knowns as mini and micro-mini implants. Mini implants are similar to traditional implants but with a smaller diameter, while micro-mini implants are a variant of the conventional implant design but thinner and smaller. These are temporary and created for easy removal.
Single tooth replacement
This uses one implant and supports a single crown. It is the most popular and usually recommended if only one tooth is lost.
Multiple tooth replacement
Several missing teeth can be restored by using multiple implants to support fixed bridgework. Depending on the number of missing teeth, the number of dental implants used varies. Typically, about four to eight implants would be needed to replace a full dental arch, which would support 10 or more crowns on a fixed dental bridge.
Hybrid of fixed and removable bridgework
In this situation, the implant supports a section of a fixed bridgework connected to a removable section.
Over-dentures (implant-supported dentures)
For this restoration, two or more implants (either traditional or mini implants) are used to stabilize a denture and maintain the jawbone underneath. Traditional full dentures sit on the gums and bones directly, and the pressure from biting could cause bone loss through resorption. Implant-supported dentures protect bone loss through stimulation. The American Dental Association considers overdentures as the standard treatment for people who are missing all the teeth in one or both jaws.
Dentists sometimes use micro-mini implants for temporary bridgework to provide functional teeth while the permanent implant heals for a lasting restoration. This is to ensure that the patient never has to live without teeth.
The bottom line
The dentist will evaluate your condition and choose the appropriate dental implant for your situation. If you are missing a tooth or several teeth, dental implants provide a stable and appealing option to restore the normal appearance and function of the teeth.
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