Dental implants are artificial fixtures attached to the jawbone and act as a permanent base for the teeth. Statistics suggest that as many as three million people in the country have dental implants. These fixtures fuse with the bone within a span of two to three months. And the process of fusion or mechanical anchorage is called “dental osseointegration.”
These implants are designed to mimic a natural tooth when fused with the jawbone. They provide great stability and do not affect the alignment of adjacent teeth. The goal of installing dental implants is restoring both esthetics and function of teeth and jaw. Dentists might recommend dental implants for
- Teeth/tooth replacement
Crown or bridges can be used on the basis of the number of missing teeth. In case a person is missing all of their teeth, a full bridge dental implant can be used as a replacement.
- Ridge reformation
Deformities in the jaw can make fixing dental implants to the jaw difficult. This can be due to the inadequate bone surface, among other reasons. In this case, ridge reformation might be required. The process involves lifting gumline away from the ridge and filling it with a bone substitute. This ensures better placement of dental implants, which further aids in teeth alignment and improving esthetics that can last for several years.
- Sinus lifting
The lack of sufficient bone in the upper jaw can make adding dental implants difficult in those areas. Sinus lifting is a surgical procedure that helps in increasing the surface area of the upper jaw for the comfortable placement of dental implants.
Types of dental implants
Two types of implants are generally used: endosteal and subperiosteal. Endosteal implants come in the form of screws and cylinders that are surgically fitted into the jawbone. They dental implants are usually used as alternatives for bridges and removable dentures. Subperiosteal ones are older versions of dental implants that are placed on the jaw using a metal framework that protrude through the gum for holding artificial dentures. They are comparatively uncomfortable to wear but are recommended for those who cannot have conventional dentures and have insufficient jawbone height.
Apart from these dental implants, small titanium alloy screws called temporary anchorage devices are used for midline correction, space closure, and bite closure of the teeth. These types are temporary and can be removed after proper alignment of dentures.
The surgeon or periodontist will assess the patient and the area where dental implants need to be fixed. They will discuss with the patient which type of implant can be suitable for them on the basis of the following factors:
- Quantity and overall condition of the jawbone where the dental implant is to be installed
- Location of the missing tooth or teeth
- Patience preference
- Cost of the implant as well as the procedure
- Underlying health conditions of the patient
Who cannot use dental implants?
A person might not be eligible for dental implants if they are suffering from acute health conditions, soft tissue disease or bone infection, and if they are undergoing treatment for any current illness. Apart from this, dental implants might not be an option for people who smoke a lot and those suffering from behavioral or psychotic disorders, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Risks involved with having dental implants
Potential complications associated with dental implants include nerve damage, the opening of incisions post-surgery, movement of the implant, and infection. Movement and exposure of dental implants above the gum-line might require periodontal intervention.
The costs of having dental implants added depend on the region of placement and the implant crown. Generally, having this procedure done will cost at least $3000. It is important to discuss with a dentist and an insurance provider whether dental implants are covered under Medicare or other health insurance plans.