If you’re over the age of 44 and have all your teeth, it may surprise you to hear that you’re in a pretty slim minority. As strange as it may sound, nearly 70% of adults between the ages of 35-44 have lost one or more permanent teeth.
There’s a real possibility that you’ll need a tooth extraction in the future. But with modern dental technology, there are plenty of ways to restore your smile. Among them are the various types of dental implants, a relatively new replacement option that is exploding in popularity.
With changing technology, patients have more opportunities to get the treatment they deserve with implants. We’ll discuss the range of dental implant options to show how they work for any dental replacement need.
Two Types of Dental Implants
A dental implant is a complete and permanent dental replacement, taking the place of one or more fully extracted teeth.
All implants fit underneath the gums and attach to the jaw. Most implants consist of titanium or titanium alloys because the metal is biocompatible with the human bone structure.
The best dental implants are endosteal implants, which push through the gums and into the bone. The most common endosteal implant is a cylinder-type, a titanium screw inserted into a pre-drilled hole in the jawbone. After recovering from tooth extraction, the screw acts as an artificial root.
Another implant type is a blade implant, which is a flat sliver of titanium. It’s both less common and less successful than cylinder-type implants. For an atrophied jaw that can’t hold a cylinder, a blade could work, although there are better alternatives that can prepare your jaw for a cylinder implant.
On top of the implant is a metal extension called an abutment. The fake tooth then attaches to the abutment, creating a strong set of teeth with a natural look and feel.
Depending on where the tooth is on the jaw and the strength of the bone, you may receive one of several different implant sizes. Larger implants go in the back of the jaw for the molars, while standard sizes support smaller teeth along the front of the mouth.
A much less common dental implant is the subperiosteal implant, which is set over the jaw rather than drilled into it. A metal frame is inserted below the gum to straddle the jawline, holding a post (or posts) that sticks up through the gums to attach to the fake tooth.
A subperiosteal implant is a rare procedure reserved for patients with a narrow or weak jawbone that can’t take a cylinder implant. It’s generally not as sturdy as an endosteal implant.
How Are Dental Implants Put In?
If you do have a weak jaw, you may be able to get it augmented with bone grafts. Over several months, the transplanted bone will bond with your jaw, making it strong enough to hold all types of dental implants.
The most common dental implant option for a single tooth usually entails a two-stage process, which begins several months after your extraction.
On the first visit, the post is placed in the jaw.
The permanent implant can’t be placed on the first visit because the implant needs to go through the osseointegration process, wherein the bone grows around and fuses with the implant. You may need 2-5 months for this to happen because the post needs to gain the strength of a real root.
After the post integrates with the jaw, there is a second procedure, which can involve additional surgery to re-expose the head of the implant. The abutment is placed in this procedure, and the permanent fake tooth is secured.
If you have several teeth or a whole row of teeth that need replacing, you don’t need individual implants for each tooth. Instead, you can look to more efficient, less invasive types of dental implants — a bridge and an All-on-4.
A dental bridge is where one false tooth is held in place by two implants on either side. For example, if you have three missing teeth in a row, two implants can be placed for the end pieces, and those crowns can support the middle tooth via a bridge.
Taking this concept a step further, the All-on-4 method allows you to replace a whole row of teeth with minimal surgery. As the name suggests, all the teeth are cemented to only four (or more) strategically placed implants. This is an ideal solution for individuals with advanced gum disease or tooth decay.
A less invasive alternative to a standard dental implant is a mini implant. These toothpick-size implants are mainly used to stabilize removable dentures, making them slip less and feel more like real teeth. They can have many of the benefits of dental implants, such as preventing bone loss and facial collapse.
How Long Is the Process?
A typical two-stage process when getting dental implants can take several months. You have to wait roughly 3-6 months after extraction before you get the implant placed. Then you have to wait another 2-5 months for osseointegration to complete before the crown can be placed.
The final result is superior to any other dental replacement, but the road to it can be off-putting to many candidates. Fortunately, with advances in 3D modeling and implant technology, you may be able to walk into the surgeon’s office needing an extraction and walk out with a brand-new tooth.
Immediate Load Dental Implants (Same-Day Implants)
For individuals with healthy jaws who don’t smoke or have underlying tooth rot and gum disease, a same-day implant may be an option.
With a same-day implant, an abutment goes onto the implant with a temporary crown on top, acting as a placeholder for the final tooth. You get to walk out of the office with a full smile and a wider range of available foods to eat.
The temporary crown is not as stable as the permanent one, and you still need to go through osseointegration. During the standard recovery period, you will be on a soft food diet. When you get the final tooth a few months later, the process is much swifter because there’s less need for surgery.
Are You Ready for Same-Day Dental Implants?
Same-day dental implants give you all the benefits of dental implants without the wait. By keeping your smile intact, these types of dental implants keep your confidence and your health intact as well.
If you need a tooth replacement after an extraction, you may be a candidate for a same-day implant. Contact our team at Jenkins, Morrow, and Gayheart to learn more about how we can help restore your quality of life.