What would be the solution for a decayed tooth or a lost set of teeth? Simply replace them with artificial teeth? Well, not that simple. This is because, the original root within the jawbone begins to shrink and eventually dissolves. So, when the original root itself does not exist, how can one directly attach an artificial tooth to the jawbone? In such circumstances, it is necessary to first fix a dental implant, which is nothing but an artificial tooth root. It is a strong foundation on which the dental prosthesis rests.
Did You Know?Dental implants act as a strong base to firmly anchor artificial teeth.
Depending upon where the implant is placed, they are categorized into the following types:
In this type, the tooth roots are replaced by screws, cylinders, or blades that are usually made of titanium or ceramic material. The implant is surgically drilled into the jawbone that helps to hold the artificial teeth in place. Thus, these implants lie completely inside the jawbone, well below the gums. However, artificial teeth are not directly connected to endosteal implants. So, once the dental implant is inserted into the jawbone, a post is connected to the implant. The artificial tooth is then securely placed over the post. In most cases, two surgeries are needed to connect the teeth with the dental implant.
In the first surgery, the screw- or cylinder-shaped implants are wrapped with Hydroxylapatite (HA), and then drilled into the jawbone. HA is one of the important components of the bone. So, coating the implant with this bone mineral facilitates its acceptance, and prevents any kind of bad reaction with the jawbone. HA also encourages growth of natural bone around the implant. The gum tissue around the implant is then stitched. The healing of gum tissue as well as bone regeneration surrounding the implants take up to 6 months. In the second surgery, posts are then attached to the implant for fixing the artificial teeth.
Plate form implants, also referred to as endosteal implants, are advised when the jawbone is short and not thick enough to allow drilling of screws and cylinders into it. Low density bones may be fitted with these implants. The plate form implants are flat and long and are inserted upright into the narrow jawbone.
Unlike endosteal implants, these are not inserted within the jawbone. In subperiosteal implants, a metal framework is firmly secured on the jawbone, but the framework lies below the gum line. Metal posts are again necessary, and appear to be projecting outwards above the gum line through the metal frame. When the jawbone is not wide enough to accommodate endosteal implants, the dentist may recommend subperiosteal implants. However, these implants are not available at a pocket-friendly price as they have to be customized according to the width and height of the jawbone. This will ensure that the implant fits correctly on the individual.
These implants that can be fitted only to the lower jawbone are generally not recommended as the surgical procedure is complicated and extensive. The procedure involves attaching a metal plate at the bottom of the jawbone, with screws running through the jawbone, and the posts embedded within the gum tissue. An incision is made below the chin to fix the plate with screws and posts on top, to attach the artificial teeth. The procedure is time-consuming, has minimal success rate, and can result in post-surgical scars.
People with bone issues such as inadequate jawbone structure are not suitable for standard implants and may be advised MDIs. When the thickness of the bone is inadequate, fitting the conventional implants is not advisable. As the name suggests, these titanium implants have a smaller diameter that are used to fix small teeth, pre-molars, or when teeth are to be fixed in a narrower area. Traditional implants are twice the size of MDIs. To be precise, the width of an MDI and a toothpick is more or less the same! Unlike traditional implants that require 6 to 8 months of healing time, MDIs have a short recovery period, because they are minimally invasive. Quicker healing and miniscule amount of post-operative pain are the hallmarks of MDI surgery. Although MDIs are referred to as tiny implants, they are equally effective to anchor dentures. For instance, as many as 4 MDIs are essential to support lower denture. So, with MDIs, ill-fitting dentures will be a thing of the past.
Since the dental implant is attached to the jawbone, it is essential that you have high jawbone density and quality. People with gum diseases may be advised to resolve the issue before undergoing the procedure. In case of inadequate jawbone, bone grafting that increases the mass and volume of the bone is recommended. In general, jawbone and gum health should be optimal prior to surgery. After studying the X-rays of your jawbone, the dentist will judge the possibility of fitting dental implants. Children are deemed unfit for traditional implants, and may be advised to fix MDIs as their bones are soft and not developed properly.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.