If you are missing one or more teeth, your dentist will likely recommend that you replace them with implants. Dental implants look just like natural teeth, can last a lifetime when cared for properly, and help protect the teeth around the missing tooth from damage. However, there are a few different types of dental implants your dentist might recommend, depending on your needs. These fall into two main categories: endosteal and subperiosteal implants. Here's a look at both.
Overview: This type of implant looks like a screw. It is implanted directly in your jaw bone, usually in the space that your tooth root used to occupy. A crown (the visible portion of the tooth) is attached to the screw where it protrudes from your gums.
Pros and Cons: Endosteal implants are great for preventing the bone loss that often occurs when you lose a tooth and there's no longer a root there to stimulate the bone. They're the most commonly used type of implant, and many dentists are skilled at inserting them. The downside to endosteal implants is that, since they are directly supported by the jaw bone, they are not always an option for patients whose jaw bone has deteriorated or is affected by a bone condition like osteoporosis.
Overview: This type of implant is not directly inserted into your jaw bone. Instead, it is placed on top of your jaw bone but under the gums. In time as it heals, it will fuse to the jaw bone. Usually, a subperiosteal implant is a larger structure to replace several missing teeth. An entire denture with several replacement crowns may be snapped onto the implant via a projection that protrudes through the gums.
Pros and Cons: Subperiosteal implants allow patients with weak or eroded jaw bones to have implants without having to undergo a bone grafting procedure. They're suitable for patients whose bone would not be strong enough to support an endosteal implant, and they're a good choice when you need to replace many teeth at once. However, they don't tend to be as stable as endosteal implants since they're not actually embedded in the bone. They are also considered more or a specialized dental device, so there may be fewer dentists in your area who offer them.
To find out more about your implant options, speak with a local dentist. They will analyze your unique dental health and let you know which option they think is best for you.