Achieving Good Dental Health Can Be Easier than You Think

Understanding the Different Types of Dental Implants

According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, up to 3 million people in the U.S. have dental implants. This number rises by about 500,000 every year. Implants are metal frames or posts that are surgically inserted in the jawbone beneath the gums. Implants provide a base on which a dentist can mount replacement teeth. Here's a look at the different types of implants.

1. Endosteal and Subperiosteal Implants

There are two types of implants: endosteal and subperiosteal. These implants are distinguished by the type of procedure used to place them. Endosteal implants involve a two-stage procedure. The implants are first inserted directly into your jawbone. After the gum tissue heals, the dentist performs minor surgery to attach a post to the implant. An artificial tooth is finally attached to the post.

Subperiosteal implants have metal frames that the dentist inserts on the jawbone below the gum tissue. When the gums heal, the frames remain fixed to your jawbone. The dentist attaches the posts to these frames. The posts protrude through the gums providing a surface to mount artificial teeth. With subperiosteal implants, there's no need for another surgery; hence it's called a single-stage procedure. 

2. Coatings and Connectors

Implants are also categorized based on the surface and connectors. The surface of most dental implants is titanium. The type of surface affects bone contact. Porous material provides the best surface for bone contact. Some other surfaces include:

  • Grit-blasted roughened surface
  • Plasma-sprayed hydroxyapatite
  • Plasma-sprayed titanium surface 
  • Zirconia

During an implant procedure, the dentist screws the abutment and restoration to the head of the implant. There are three types of connectors: internal hex connectors, external hex connectors, and internal octagon connectors. Like the names suggest, these connectors resemble the shapes of hexagons and octagons respectively.

3. Sizes

Dental implants are also categorized based on size. Individual bone availability and spacing needs determine the size of the implant used. The common sizes are standard platform, wide platform, and mini body sizes.

A standard dental implant has a diameter of between 3.5 mm to 4.2 mm. Dentists place these implants in the front part of your mouth. Wide platform dental implants have a diameter of between 4.5 mm to 6 mm. Dentists place these implants in the back of your mouth. Mini body dental implants have a diameter of between 2mm and 3.5 mm. These implants are appropriate if you don't have enough space between your tooth roots or if you have insufficient bone density.