The first titanium dental implant was placed in a human volunteer in 1965, by a Swedish physician and research professor. His name was Per-Ingvar Branemark and he has been given the rather wordy title of “father of modern dental implantology”. The success of the experiment led to significant improvements in the techniques used for tooth replacement in a very short span of time. Dental implants are usually made in the form of a titanium screw and there are two main kinds:
Endosteal dental implants are placed in the jawbone.
Subperiosteal dental implants are placed on or above it.
A subperiosteal implant is mainly required in cases where the patient’s jawbone isn’t healthy enough to support an endosteal implant, and the patient is unable or unwilling to undergo a bone augmentation procedure to restore health to that jawbone.
Bone augmentation involves restoring (or regenerating) bone in your jaw. Bone additives and other growth factors are usually used to fortify the bone. But there are other techniques your doctor may suggest. A sinus lift, for example, is a procedure that adds bone below the sinus (in cases of natural bone deterioration due to missing upper teeth) and ridge expansion is used for jaws that aren’t wide enough to support implants. Here, bone graft material is added to the small space (or ‘ridge’) along the top of your jaw.
3D Imaging and Treatment Planning
Implant procedures are faster and more effective than ever. This is largely due to the advances of state-of-the-art 3D digital imaging and implant surgical planning software. They allow your dentist to analyze the anatomy of your jaw to determine the best sites for optimal implant placement before surgery.
Alternative dental implant techniques
Don’t be surprised if your dentist suggests supplementing the traditional multi-step implant procedure with alternative treatment options. These may include the following:
Immediate Load Dental Implants are also known as same day implants. They are often used in case of an emergency. As the name suggests, they can be placed immediately and are often a temporary solution until customized implants can be made for you. Keep in mind you’ll probably need to have enough natural bone to take the additional pressure.
Mini Dental Implants are also known as small implants. They are the size of a tooth-pick and much narrower than typical dental implants. Their placement is done using less invasive techniques and they are mainly used to stabilize lower dentures.
All-on-4® is a treatment method where four implants are placed in available bone, thus avoiding the need for bone grafting. The term refers to “all” teeth being supported on those four implants and the procedure is performed on patients with broken down or decayed teeth or gum disease.