Dental implants, also known as tooth implants, are custom-fitted artificial teeth that replace missing teeth. They look just like natural teeth; in fact, to the average onlooker the difference is imperceptible. The type of implant used varies according to the jawbone density, surgical tolerance, and physical fitness of the patient. Below is an explanation of the two main types of dental implants.
1) Endosteal/root form
Endosteal dental implants, also known as root form implants, are fused directly into the jawbone. The dental surgeon cuts open the gum to expose the jawbone. A hole is then drilled in the jaw bone and the implant (a metal screw, nail, or cone) is inserted and sealed into the bone. As the gum heals, the implant becomes securely locked into place. After the gum heals, a post is attached to the implant (or implants) and the artificial tooth (known as a crown) or group of teeth (known as a bridge) is mounted onto the post or posts. Endosteal implants are used when the jawbone is dense, and sufficiently wide and high to hold the implants securely in place. They are the most common type of dental implant.
With subperiosteal implants, a lightweight metal frame is surgically fixed onto the jawbone underneath the gums. The frame sets and becomes immoveable as the gums heal. There are posts on the frame that stick up through the gum and the artificial teeth (either individual crowns or a bridge) are mounted on these posts. Subperiosteal implants are suited for patients whose jawbones have eroded, a process known as bone resorption. These patients have jawbones that are not sufficiently strong, wide, or high to have metal screws, nails, or cones embedded in them. The metal frame used in subperiosteal implants is narrow and light.
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