This question will be best answered after an implant dentist has examined you. He or she will look at the condition of your teeth, gums, and the jaw bone. Tests will be required to assess the condition of teeth and their roots under the gum, and the bone quality and mass. The dentist will then discuss with you the various options available. Depending on your functional and aesthetic requirements, budget priorities, and the insurance plan, you and your dentist can decide together. For your information, and to help you understand the dentist’s suggestions we describe below the various classes of implants and their applications briefly.
Implants can be classified according to three parameters: installation position (within or outside the jaw bone), size, and the purpose for which those are installed.
There are two main categories depending on the place they are installed in the jaw.
- Endosteal implants: This is the most common type of implants used. Endosteal implants are screwed into the jawbone (endo means inside) under the gum line. The shape may be cylindrical (straight or tapered downwards) or disc shaped. Patients who have sufficient bone in their jaws are candidates for this type of implant.
- Subperiosteal implants: These implants are given to those patients who, for some reason, do not have sufficient mass and quality of bone in their jaw to support the normal endosteal implant. 3-D model of the jaw bone obtained from CT scans help in installation. A metallic framework is designed and fitted over the jawbone but kept under the gum. Metallic posts protruding from the framework through the gum then support the artificial crowns. Use of CAD/CAM facilities help complete the entire procedure in a single visit.
Implants can also be classified by sizes. The sizes are, in decreasing in decreasing order of size.
Implants are also classified by the type of restoration they are used for. The types are:
- Single tooth: A single implant is sufficient to support a single tooth. In this case, a crown will placed over the implant with the help of an abutment, to complete the artificial tooth structure.
- Multiple teeth: Two or more teeth can be supported on a bridge or denture, on two or more implants.
- All-on-4: A complete set of teeth of one jaw is supported by a total of four implants. Sometimes 6, or 8 implants may be needed for the upper jaw and five or seven for the lower jaw. Check out our infographics about Nobel Biocare implants.
- Combinations of fixed and removable bridgework: A removable denture section gets attached to a fixed bridge which is supported on implants.
- Implant supported over-dentures: Traditional dentures press on the gum and result in bone loss in the empty sockets. An implant supported overdenture is useful for those who want a complete denture and yet avoiding the bone resorption associated with the traditional denture.
- Orthodontic anchorage for tooth movement: This is a very interesting application of dental implants. When orthodontists need to move teeth quickly for alignment and straightening, they install an implant onto selected teeth or sites in the jaw bone. Orthodontic devices are then made to apply forces to these implants resulting in faster movement of teeth than conventional methods.
- Temporary bridgeworks: A patient becomes toothless during the healing period of implants. Removable micro-mini implants can be installed with temporary bridgeworks on them. Those are removed when the permanent teeth are applied.