Dental implants are small posts that are attached to your jaw and stand in for the root of a tooth. They fuse to new replacement teeth with a connector, or abutment. Most dental implants are made of titanium.
There are different types of dental implants and procedures. Your doctor will help you choose which may be best for you.
Single Implants vs. Multiple Implants
Dental implants can replace one tooth or many teeth. Here are your options.
Single-tooth implant. If you have one tooth that needs to be replaced, your doctor will do a single-tooth implant, then put in a single replacement tooth or crown.
Multiple-tooth implant. If you have a few teeth missing, your doctor may do a multiple-tooth implant with custom-made replacement teeth.
Full-mouth implant. If you don’t have any teeth, your doctor may do a full-mouth dental implant.
Basic Types of Implants
The most common types of dental implants are endosteal and subperiosteal implants. The main difference is how they’re attached to your jawbone.
This is the most common type of dental implant. It’s shaped like a small screw, cylinder, or blade. It goes in your jawbone and holds one or more replacement teeth, which are also called prosthetic teeth.
Your doctor may recommend an endosteal implant if you already have dentures or bridges.
This type of implant is placed on or above your jawbone. It’s a metal post that’s put under your gum and sticks through your gum to hold it in place.
You may get a subperiosteal implant if you can’t wear regular dentures, you don’t have enough natural jawbone to hold an endosteal implant, or you don’t want to do a bone augmentation procedure to build up the bone.
Other Procedures You May Have With Implants
Your doctor will decide if endosteal implants or subperiosteal implants are best for you based on how healthy your jawbone is, how many teeth are missing, and other specific needs you may have.
They may recommend other treatments to help support your dental implants.
Other procedures include:
Bone augmentation. If you don’t have enough natural, healthy bone in your jaw, it may not be able to support your dental implants. Your doctor may recommend bone augmentation to restore or regenerate the bone so it can support implants. This may involve bone additives and growth factors.
Sinus lift. One of the hardest places to put dental implants is your upper back jaw. That’s because you may not have enough bone quantity or quality there, and it’s close to your sinus.
Your doctor can correct this with a sinus lift, which is also called a sinus augmentation or a sinus elevation. This raises your sinus floor to make room to add bone that can hold dental implants.
Ridge expansion. Your doctor may recommend a ridge expansion or modification if your jaw is too narrow to support implants. This involves adding bone graft material to a small space along the top of your jaw, which is also called a ridge.
If you have deformities in your upper or lower jaw, your doctor may recommend a ridge modification. It may improve your chances of a successful implant and also how your jaw looks.
A Variety of Options
Your doctor can help you choose which dental implant is right for you, such as:
Mini dental implants (MDIs). These small implants are the size of a toothpick or the lead of a pencil. They’re narrower than most implants. Your doctor may choose this if you need to stabilize a lower denture. Mini dental implants can be placed through less invasive techniques than other dental implants.
Your doctor may recommend mini dental implants if you have a lot of bone loss and limited jawbone available. They may also recommend mini implants if you have loose dentures. They can stabilize them so they don’t slip when you eat or talk.
Immediate-load dental implants. With these, your doctor can place your implants and your temporary teeth in during the same appointment. This is also called same-day implants, or teeth in a day.
If you have enough natural, healthy bone, and if your implant is secure enough to support a new temporary tooth, same-day implants may be an option for you.
All-on-4. If you need a full set, or full arch, of top or bottom replacement teeth, your doctor may recommend this option.
First, your doctor will put four implants in your available bone. Then they’ll add special abutments that can hold same-day temporary replacement teeth.
You’ll wait about 6 months for your gum tissues to heal and the implants to bond with your natural bone. Your doctor will recommend a special diet to help the healing process.
At the end of the 6 months, your doctor will place your permanent replacement teeth in, and you can eat your normal diet again.