If you have missing teeth or a damaged jawbone, having implants placed is more than a simple cosmetic procedure: it's actually quite important to protect the health of the remaining teeth, jaw, and gum tissue – all of which are otherwise at increased risk of atrophy and decay.
Your dentist has likely recommended that you undergo an implantation procedure, so let's clear up some of the mystique behind the process. There are three primary types of dental implants, which are differentiated by the location of their placement relative to the jawbone.
Endosteal (or, "within the bone") implants
By far the most common procedure of the three, endosteal implants feature cylindrical or screw-shaped bases that are inserted within the jawbone. The prosthetic tooth (or teeth) is affixed to a post atop the implant, which protrudes through the gumline.
Subperiosteal (or, "on top of the bone") implants
Subperiosteal implants are a less-invasive alternative to endosteal implants, and may be a viable option in some situations. Rather than being embedded into the jawbone, these take the form of a framework that can be set atop it (and underneath the gum tissue).
Transosteal (or, "through the bone") implants
Rarely, a considerably more invasive measure may be necessary. A transosteal implant is a pin or U-shaped framework that runs directly through the jawbone, and is fixed in place with a small metal plate on the opposite side.
Which Type of Implant is Right for Me?
If the options seem overwhelming, don't worry too much. The selection of implant type will depend largely on the specifics of your current dental situation and the intended end result. As a result, it's usually left up to your dentist.
Factors such as the location site of the implant along the jawbone, the thickness and integrity of the bone in this position, and the type of teeth being replaced (incisors/canines/molars) may affect the decision. Speak with your dentist for details, as every situation will vary.
Maintaining Your Implants
No matter which type of dental implant you end up with, do note that maintaining excellent oral hygiene will be a requirement going forward. Implants are more susceptible to infection than natural teeth, primarily because implants lack the ligament anchoring teeth to the jawbone – a ligament that would normally provide blood flow (including disease-fighting white blood cells) and nutrition to the site. Regular checkups, from a clinic like Dillon Family Dental PLLC, and daily brushing will play a huge role in the lasting success of your dental implants.