What is a Dental Implant?
Dental implants are small anchors made of a biocompatible metal called titanium that are placed in the jawbone. Dental implants are the replacement of tooth roots in the mouth. Once placed, the anchors begin to fuse with the bone over the course of a few months. After the fusing process, known as osseointegration, abutment posts are inserted into the anchors to allow for the permanent attachment of the replacement teeth.
Implants are the best solution for simulating the look, feel, and function of natural teeth. Dental implants do much more than replace missing teeth, they also help maintain the health of neighboring teeth more predictably and reliably. They also help maintain bone structure, provide the ability to chew healthy food and give patients the confidence to smile.
Implant Supported Bridges
An implant supported bridge is a restorative solution for spaces where three or more adjacent teeth are missing. This restoration typically requires two implants to support the porcelain bridge. The bridge provides a functional and aesthetic replacement for a patient’s natural teeth.
What are the advantages of an implant supported bridge?
Fully Edentulous (Toothless) Solutions
For patients missing many or all of their teeth, implant retained or implant supported dentures may be an alternative to traditional dentures. These solutions can simulate the look and feel of natural teeth and stay fixed in place with the implants acting as anchors. Using implants for retention or the support of dentures allows for a smaller and more comfortable base and less shifting of the prosthesis during use.
Mini Dental Implants (MDIs)
There are times when a full size implant is not a viable option, and in many cases an MDI may be a great solution. Small spaces or inadequate bone mass in the jaw may prevent the use of traditional implants. Mini Dental Implants are similar to regular implants but, as the name suggests, are significantly smaller in diameter. The placement of MDIs is minimally invasive, often requiring only local anesthetic and no sutures. For this reason, MDIs can often be placed with the final replacement tooth in one day.
How are mini dental implants different from standard dental implants?
In traditional implants, an abutment is attached to the titanium implant screw, and the restoration is then placed on the abutment as shown here.
MDIs are approximately half the diameter of a traditional implant and use a titanium post, rather than a screw. Instead of an abutment piece that supports the final restoration, MDIs use a ball and socket attachment system. The ball on the end of the titanium post (shown above) provides the attachment point for the o-ring in the replacement tooth.
Similarities between MDIs and full-size dental implants:
- The implant is inserted into the jawbone.
- The implants, once inserted into the jawbone, are fixed in place.
- The implant serves to replace the tooth root and anchor replacement teeth.
- The placement of the implant can prompt bone regeneration around the placement site.
- The implant can be used to support one or more teeth for crowns or bridges and can also help provide support for removable lower arch dentures.
MDIs may be preferable to full-size dental implants in the following situations:
- Bone mass in the jaw is insufficient to support a full-size implant screw.
- There is a small space or gap into which to insert the fabricated tooth (such as an incisor as opposed to a molar).
- Children or young adults have congenitally missing teeth.
- Minimally invasive techniques are required due to health or other reasons.