Under Your Gums: Dental Implants For All Types Of Jawbone

Posted on: 18 May 2023

You might think you know enough about dental implants to know they're not right for you. But do you know that there are different types of implants for different needs? Perhaps you dismissed the idea of an implant because you were told that your jawbone isn't thick enough to support one. And yet, even though this seems like a major hurdle, there are ways around it.

Typical Implants

A general single tooth implant (which is called an endosteal implant) resembles a small screw, which is essentially what it is. It's made of titanium, implanted in your jaw, and once the bone has healed around it, the implant becomes an artificial tooth root. Once sufficiently healed, the implant's false tooth (typically made of porcelain) is attached. The success of this process depends on bone mass.

The Human Jaw

The human jaw naturally loses some of its mass when a permanent tooth is lost. Since it no longer has to cope with the tremendous bite pressure a tooth experiences, the bone beneath the tooth undergoes a process called resorption (loss of mass). It's nothing to be concerned about, yet must be reversed if the bone is to be strong enough to hold a dental implant. This is where bone grafting becomes relevant.

Grafting Your Jaw

Bone grafting is the manual addition of bone material to a deficient site (in this case, your jaw). The bone material is usually synthetic, but donor bone material can also be used. And this might be the point where you dismissed the possibility of having a dental implant replace your missing tooth. Perhaps your health makes an additional surgical procedure (even such a minor one) unwise. Maybe you simply don't want to undergo the additional healing time that this requires, which draws out your overall treatment time. However, bone mass (and bone grafting) isn't necessarily mandatory for a healthy, functional dental implant.

Under Your Gums

Instead of being implanted in your jaw, a subperiosteal implant is placed under your gums, atop the alveolar ridge—which is the ridge of bone that holds your dental sockets. The base of the implant is a small frame that hugs the bone ridge beneath it. The base of the implant makes contact with the bone (and it's this direct contact that gives a subperiosteal implant its stability), however, the implant doesn't need to fuse with your bone to be functional. This means that no bone grafting is needed, and healing time is minimal.

Sure, you may not want to undergo bone grafting to receive a dental implant—and that's your choice. But you don't always need bone grafting to receive a dental implant.

For more information on dental implants, contact a dentist near you.