What are Dental Implants?
An implant is an object that is placed or inserted inside the body. It is placed in order to replace
a missing part, provide therapy, or assist as a prosthetic material.
A dental implant is a root of an artificial tooth. It is fixed into the jawbone and so it can
facilitate permanent artificial teeth. Dental implants can support a single artificial tooth or
multiple artificial teeth. They are made of dental material like titanium or zirconium.
Dental implants (implant) help dental surgeons to restore missing teeth. Unlike dentures or other
dental restorations like dental bridges, artificial teeth fixed on top of dental implants are
closest to natural teeth. They provide superior functionality enabling chewing of food and clear
Dental implants are fixed into the jawbone with a dental surgery. Once dental implants are firmly
fixed, artificial teeth, dentures, or crowns are placed.
Dental Implants are fixed by prosthodontists who are dental implant specialists. Prosthodontics is a
branch in dentistry and it deals with prosthetic restoration of missing, lost, broken, chipped,
fractured, and discolored teeth with dental materials like dental implants, crowns, veneers,
laminates, and other prosthetic dental materials.
A prosthodontist is a dental implant specialist who is qualified for missing teeth replacement with
Who needs Dental Implants?
Anyone who has teeth is prone to lose it at one point or the other. People lose their baby teeth and
get permanent teeth. However, there are many circumstances when they lose a single tooth or multiple
teeth. Here are a few reasons why a person loses teeth.
Reasons for teeth loss
- Age – Elderly lose teeth due to aging process or due to dental diseases
- Dental Cavities – Tooth decay and dental cavities eat teeth from the inside and lead to
- Gum Diseases – Gum diseases like periodontitis leads to gum recession, inflammation, and
finally, teeth loss
- Other disease conditions – Diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis can
cause tooth loss
- Trauma & Injury – Accidents, injuries, and trauma to the oral structures is another
cause for teeth loss
- Tobacco & Smoking – All forms of tobacco are known to cause dental problems and
ultimately teeth loss
- Osteoporosis – This leads to reduced bone density and teeth loss
- Teeth extraction – In many cases, teeth are infected beyond repair and have to be extracted.
This also leads to teeth loss
Among all these reasons, dental cavities and gum diseases are the most likely causes for teeth loss.
People who have lost their teeth need dental implants, and crowns or dentures to replace lost teeth.
Missing teeth replacement with implants is important because the gap created due to lost teeth
destabilizes surrounding teeth and leads to further teeth loss.
Other people who have broken, fractured, chipped, and discolored can also opt for dental implants
Why do you need a dental implant?
Dental implants have many advantages. They are not only a permanent solution for missing teeth; they
restore functionality and appearance. People who have lost one tooth or multiple teeth have a gap.
Due to the gap left by lost teeth, the adjacent teeth are at a risk of being misaligned, becoming
corked, and becoming loose. When adjacent teeth become loose, they become unstable and ultimately
fall off. Apart from this, misaligned teeth can cause pain, infection, and even bone loss.
Though dental bridges and removable dentures were used for a long time, dental implants have many
advantages over bridges and removable dentures. Removable dentures are loose and tend to fall off
during conversation. They do not serve functionally. As for bridges, there is a risk of damage to
the adjacent teeth becoming infected and loose.
Dental bridges work by taking the support of adjacent teeth on either side in order to bridge the
gap of lost teeth. For this, teeth on either side are shaved off. This increases the risk of
infection. Moreover, dental bridges can lead to bone loss.
That is why dental implants are the best option for someone who has missing teeth.
How do dental implants work?
A dental implant is used as the root in order to fix an artificial tooth. The dental implant is
placed inside the jawbone with the help of a dental surgery. Once the site of surgery heals and the
dental implant is firmly adjoined to the jawbone, crowns or other dentures are placed on top of the
Dental Implants & Dentures – Restoration of Functionality
Chewing food& protecting surrounding teeth
Dental implants and dentures serve the purpose of replacing missing teeth. They offer functionality
in terms of the ability to bite and chew food.
As they fill the gap created due to lost teeth, they protect the surrounding teeth from
misalignment. They prevent surrounding teeth from becoming loose and ultimately falling off.
Dental Implants also assist in articulating speech properly. People with a gap in their teeth caused
due to lost teeth tend to have difficulties in articulating certain words. Often, this leads to
People with missing teeth find it difficult to utter words starting with F, J, V, S, Z, CH, TH, and
ZH. This is because these sounds require teeth to utter them properly. When there is a gap due to
missing teeth, air escapes from the gap and makes it difficult to pronounce properly.
After placing dental implants and dentures, one can properly utter these sounds and speak properly.
What are the types of dental implants?
There are different types of dental implants, and they are classified as per their certain parameter
- Implant design
- Attachment mechanism
- Material & surface of the implant
They are classified in this manner as dental implants can come in various sizes and lengths. They
can be made of different materials. The type of dental implant for a particular patient depends upon
his/her oral make-up.
The types of dental implants include:
- Endosteal Dental Implants
- Subperiosteal Dental Implants
- Transosteal Dental Implants
- Intramucosal Dental Implants
Each type of dental implant is designed to provide a permanent solution for missing teeth for unique
cases. They differ in their design and parts, and are placed in different mechanisms.
Endosteal Dental Implants
Endosteal dental implants are dental implants that are placed into the bone. These are the most
common types of dental implants. They are specific types of dental implants that are placed directly
into the jawbone.
Endosteal dental implants are used for people who do not have any jawbone complications. As they are
directly fixed into the jawbone, ideal candidates for endosteal dental implants are those who have
There are two types of endosteal dental implants and both of them are basically shaped like screws.
- Blade endosteal dental implants
- Cylinder endosteal dental implants
Both these types of dental implants are placed surgically into the jawbone (basal bone of the
maxilla or mandible).
Blade endosteal dental implant
Blade endosteal dental implants are designed to endure the forces of biting, chewing, and grinding
that occurs in the mouth. They have specific design that enables them to have maximum bone contact.
This enables them to resist torque forces that occur in the mouth.
The part of blade dental implant that touches the bone is widest and is ideal to withstand all forms
of stress that occur in the mouth. Due to its unique shape, the procedure for inserting this type of
dental implant varies.
Prosthodontists and periodontists decide the ideal location for blade endosteal dental implants.
They judge the cosmetic outcomes, bone strength, dental arch, and soft tissues and bone that come
into contact with the dental implants before opting for blade endosteal dental implants.
Cylinder endosteal dental implant
A cylinder endosteal dental implant has the shape of a cylinder that has the screw threads. This
type of dental implant offers the advantage of distributing biting, chewing, and grinding forces all
over the implant. Also, the distribution of forces occurs both in the vertical and horizontal
directions leading to less stress.
Cylinder endosteal dental implants are generally hollow. They tend to have more area in contact with
the bone. Added to that, they cause minimal trauma to the bone during the dental implant procedure.
As in the case with the blade endosteal implants, cylinder endosteal dental implants are placed only
after a thorough evaluation of the bone strength, cosmetic outcomes, dental arches, and the soft
Both types of endosteal dental implants can be placed for full-arch dentures (multiple artificial
teeth for upper or lower teeth set) or single tooth.
Other variants of endosteal dental implants include Ramus frame implant and root-form dental
Subperiosteal Dental Implants
Subperiosteal dental implants means dental implants placed on top of the bones. They are recommended
to people who need dental implants, but do not have the bone strength and bone density to opt for an
endosteal dental implant. Subperiosteal dental implants are fixed on top of jawbones in between the
gums and the soft tissues above the jawbone.
Subperiosteal dental implants are prescribed for people with bone loss in the jaws. With bone loss,
a regular dental implant cannot stand firm and take in the forces of biting, chewing, and grinding.
Bone loss in the jawbone is witnessed in people with osteoporosis, gum diseases like periodontal
disease, calcium and vitamin D deficiency, smoking, poorly-fitted dentures, and teeth extraction.
This is called bone resorption.
People with bone resorption are not ideal candidates for ordinary dental implants and require
subperiosteal implants. Subperiosteal dental implant is essentially a framework with struts and
bars. With bars and struts, subperiosteal dental implants can support an entire arch of teeth.
As bars and struts are placed with extensions in subperiosteal dental implants, they allow forces in
the mouth to be evenly distributed. This allows biting, chewing and grinding without any damage to
the implant or the oral structures.
Prosthodontists and periodontists choose candidates for subperiosteal dental implants. As the design
of this type of dental implant is different, dental implant procedure and preparation is
Transosteal Dental Implants
Transosteal dental implant is a dental implant that is placed through the bone. It is a type of
dental implant that is inserted in the lower jaw. They are U-shaped frames or pins and are inserted
through the bone and alveolar sockets. This type of dental implant is not preferred these days as it
does not have long term success
Intramucosal Dental Implants
Intramucosal dental implants are those that are implanted in the oral mucosa. They are
mushroom-shaped dental implants and are used to support dentures.
Other forms of dental implants like mini-dental implants are used to perform procedures like teeth
in a day.
Advantages of dental implants
When compared to other forms of replacement of missing teeth, dental implants are far superior as
they offer better functionality and esthetics. They are superior to dental bridges, removable
dentures, and other artificial teeth.
- Dental implants look like natural teeth and they improve facial esthetics
- Dental implants provide superior functionality in terms of chewing, biting, grinding, and
- They last long and offer permanent solution to missing teeth
- They prevent bone loss. Dental implants fuse to the jawbone and provide stimuli so that
there is no bone loss
- They improve oral health
- Dental implants are made of strong and durable materials
- Unlike removable dentures, dental implants do not slip during speech. Since they are
inserted into the jawbone, they are fixed
- In a comparison of bridges vs. dental implants, there is a risk of damage of adjacent teeth
in bridges, which is not present in dental implants
What are the components and materials of a dental implant?
Dental implants essentially consist of six parts. They include:
- Implant Fixture
- Cover screw
- Abutment screw
In a dental implant surgery, the fixture is inserted into the jawbone. Then, the cover screw is
fixed on top of the fixture. The abutment is then fixed using the abutment screw. Later, the
cylinder is connected to the abutment with the help of a screw. Once the cylinder is fixed on op of
the abutment, the dental implant becomes one complete unit.
The implant fixture is the root of the dental implant. Over a period of time, this fuses with the
jawbone. This process is known as osseointegration. Once this occurs, then other parts of the dental
implant are fixed.
The abutment rests along the gums. This helps to hold the dentures or crown that would be placed
after the surgical site is healed. Once the surgical site is healed, the cylinder is placed. Later
on, crowns or dentures are placed.
Dental implants also come in various shapes. These include:
Dental implant materials
Dental implant materials are chosen for certain specific properties. Since they can be placed inside
the jawbone, through the bone, on the bone, and on the oral mucosa, dental implants need to have the
property of biocompatibility.
With the property of biocompatibility, dental implants do not cause adverse effects when they
interact with tissues, fluids, and bone. They do not cause toxicity and can be used for the purpose
of dental implants.
Dental implant material properties include:
- Tensile strength
Earlier, materials like metal alloys like cobalt-chromium alloys were used as dental implant
materials. However nowadays, dental implant materials include:
- Titanium alloys (titanium with copper, iron, aluminum, vanadium)
- Zirconium (Zirconia)
- Titanium-Zirconium alloy
Both titanium and Zirconium have numerous benefits when it comes to be ideal dental implant
materials. They fuse well with the jawbone, and have high strength. They are non-toxic and offer
long term success of the dental implants.
While titanium is a metal-based dental implant material, Zirconia (Zirconium) is a non-metallic
material that is made of a gemstone called zircon.
Who is an ideal candidate for dental implants?
Generally, people who have lost teeth need artificial teeth in order to restore their appearance and
functionality. However, not all people are ideal candidates for dental implants.
Most people are suitable for dental implants, but the candidature is decided after prosthodontists
and periodontists examine the inner structures of the gums, jawbone, the shape of the sinuses, and
location of nerves in the oral system.
That said, here is a list of people who are not suitable for dental implants
- Children who are growing
- People with chronic conditions like uncontrolled diabetes, immune disorders, tissue
diseases, cancer patients
- Heavy smokers
- People with substance abuse
What is the success rate of dental implants?
Success rate of dental implants are measured in terms of their 5-year success, and 10-year success.
Many studies all over the world reveal that dental implants have a very high success rate both in
time periods of 5 years and 10 years.
While some studies indicate a 98% success rate, other studies reveal a success rate of 74% to 98%.
However, there are changes in the success rate of dental implants due to various reasons. These
- Presence of diabetes, & hypertension in patients
- Smoking after placing dental implants
- Location of dental implant
- Length of dental implant
- Diameter of dental implant
- Jawbone quality
Along with these factors that impact the success rate of dental implants, the dexterity of a dental
implant specialist, treatment planning, and other external factors also tend to influence the final