Many Americans have missing teeth, but even though it's common, it can still be embarrassing. While there are many ways to replace missing teeth, dental implants are growing in popularity. If you would like to learn more, check out these five dental implant terms you need to know.
1. Endosteal vs. Eposteal Implant
There are different types of implants. Endosteal implants are more common. They use the jawbone to support the implant like a regular tooth. A titanium screw is inserted into the jawbone to serve as the artificial tooth root. This makes an endosteal implant incredibly durable. An eposteal implant is less invasive but also less durable. Instead of resting inside the jawbone, an eposteal implant rests on the jawbone. This type of procedure is usually reserved for special circumstances in which the chances of bone resorption are high.
For people with multiple missing teeth, a single implant may not be enough, and multiple single implants can quickly become expensive. For this reason, implant-supported devices are also available. Implant-supported bridges work like traditional bridges expect they use implants instead of teeth to secure the bridge. Implant-supported dentures are dentures that are held in place with implants. The dentures are still removable for easy cleaning, but they connect to the implants, giving them a more secure hold than traditional dentures.
The titanium piece that goes into your jawbone is technically the implant. Ideally, you shouldn't be able to see any of the actual implant after treatment. The abutment is placed on top of the implant, and it is used to support the crown: the visible part that looks like a tooth. This crown is usually made from porcelain. This makes them durable, but it also gives them a look similar to natural teeth: white with a little translucency. Porcelain crowns are not as durable as metal crowns, however, so they may experience chipping if you grind your teeth.
Osseointegration is how an endosteal implant works, and it means that the titanium implant can fuse to the bone. This is incredibly important because it is why implants become so durable. Your healthy teeth are held in place by ligaments. These ligaments prevent your teeth from falling out or moving when exposed to the high pressures of eating. When bone and titanium fuse, they mimic these ligaments, holding the implant in place.
Besides ensuring your dental implant is durable, osseointegration also helps keep your jawbone strong. After tooth loss, your jawbone experiences some atrophy. Naturally, the more teeth you are missing, the more the jawbone shrinks. This happens because the jawbone loses its main job: supporting teeth. Osteointegration, however, causes the implant to stimulate the jawbone, preventing it from shrinking.
5. Bone Graft
Because of atrophy, your jawbone may not even be strong enough to support an implant. Luckily, a bone graft can help. With a bone graft, pieces of cadaver bone are inserted into your jawbone. This helps stimulate growth, so the jawbone becomes strong again. If you are about to get a tooth pulled, talk with your dentist about the possibilities of an implant. They may want to add cadaver bone after removing the tooth to help prevent any shrinkage, better preparing it for the implant.
Missing teeth can be embarrassing, but they can also make it hard to talk and eat. Several missing teeth can even affect the shape of your jawbone, which can change the shape of your face in the long run. Dental implants, however, are a great way to replace teeth and help your jawbone. If you would like to learn more, contact a dentist in your area today.