How do Dental Implants Work?

A dental implant is a way to create a prosthetic tooth. There are many ways to create prosthetic teeth without implants such as removable dentures and bridges. However, for a truly natural look and feel an implant is the best solution. Dental implants in Scotttsdale can be used to replace one tooth, several teeth, or all of the teeth.

Endosteal Implants

Endosteal implants are placed into the jawbone. They usually consist of a titanium screw that is inserted into the bone. The bone is then allowed to grow into and around the screw. During the bone healing process a temporary crown is placed on the implant. Once the implant has healed, a permanent crown is used to replace the temporary crown.

Endosteal implants sound complicated, but most individuals can return to work the day after placement of the implant. The temporary crown functions reasonably well during the healing process (which can take several months). The permanent crown is custom-build to match the patient’s other teeth, to provide the most cosmetically pleasing result possible.

Subperiosteal Implants

Subperiosteal implants are placed under the gum on top of the jawbone. They are usually only used with patients who lack sufficient bone in their jaw to hold endosteal implants. Patients who lack bone can undergo procedures to try to build sufficient bone to hold an endosteal implant, but this can be a complicated and time-consuming procedure that does not always work (see next section).

A subperiosteal implant is a sort of metal cage that rests over the jawbone underneath the soft tissue of the gum. A little metal post sticks up for attachment of the crowns. Subperiosteal implants are most often used to restore multiple missing teeth in the upper jaw. The bone in the upper jaw tends to be more porous and less likely to be able to support endosteal implants than the lower jaw.

Because the implant has to be custom-designed to each patient’s jaw, these implants are more expensive than endosteal implants. The implantation procedure requires a more extensive surgical procedure to insert the metal structure underneath the gum tissue.

Bone Augmentation

Many individuals lack sufficient bone in their jaw to support an endosteal implant. Causes of insufficient bone include gum disease, loss of teeth some time prior to the attempt to place implants, and injuries to the face.

Bone grafts are the most common way to try to re-build the jawbone. Bone taken from other parts of the body or from donors is implanted under the gumline in a simple surgical procedure. Patients can usually return to work the day after the procedure, but need to take special precautions with oral hygiene while the grafts heal. It usually takes several months for the grafts to fully integrate into the bone. After the bone heals, endosteal implants are inserted.

Transosteal Implants

Transosteal implants are metal pins that go all the way through the jawbone and are anchored underneath the jawbone with a metal plate. They are placed much like endosteal implants, but require a much more invasive surgical procedure with an incision in the skin under the jaw. Transosteal implants are almost never used today. When they are used, they are only used on the lower jaw for patients with very limited bone structure.

Intramucosal Implants

These implants are placed to hold removable dentures more firmly in the mouth. They are inserted into the upper jaw on the outside of the gums. They look kind of like little silver bumps. The dentures snap into them to improve denture fit and chewing power.

Endosteal implants are the easiest and cheapest option. They also provide the best cosmetic results. Endosteal implants do require good bone for placement. The best way to ensure good bone is present is to replace the missing tooth (or teeth) as soon as possible after it is lost or extracted.

If you’re about to lose a tooth, or lost one recently, don’t delay. Contact us to make an appointment with Dr. Steven Poulos or Dr. Sid Stevens to discuss the possibility of getting dental implants in Scottsdale at My Scottsdale Dentist.