Types of Dental Implant Treatment
Did you know that missing all of the teeth on one of your jaws (arches) meets the World Health Organization's definition for being disabled? Having no teeth restricts ones ability to eat and talk, and can easily be considered a handicap. Having been used as a treatment for hundreds of years, dentures that aren't secured by implants are now considered a sub-standard form of treatment to address the disability of missing teeth. There are generally two types of dental implant treatment that best address this world-wide problem. While both treatment are known by different names, they fall under two main categories:
- Gum supported, or removable implant denture
- Screw-retained, or fixed implant denture
Mini implants are sometimes referred to as implants as well, but their smaller size results in a lower bite strength threshold and a higher rate of failure. This makes it difficult to truly classify them as implants. Mini implants tend to be thought of as a cheaper solution to keeping dentures in place, however, because of the their decreased ability to withstand maximum biting forces, many surgeons recommend two mini implants be placed for every regular implant, making them actually a more costly treatment.
Gum Supported Implants
Gum supported, or removable implant dentures are the simplest, easiest way to address this problem. This treatment is essentially where two or more implants are surgically inserted into the bone beneath the denture. Male attachments are screwed in to each implant and sit on top of the gums. Female attachments are placed in the denture so that the denture snaps on to each implant abutment, securing the denture in place and minimizing any movement of the denture while eating or talking.
Screw-retained implants (sometimes referred to "all on 4") can only be removed by the dentist, because the denture is permanently screwed in to each implant. This procedure, in theory, is like having natural teeth due to the fact that the denture teeth cannot physically be dislodged. Screw-retained implant dentures are considered the gold standard for tooth replacement because of their permanent, screwed-in retention. They also are usually a higher priced procedure because of added lab work and dentist involvement. Since the denture is kept in place with screws, theoretically it is more stable. However, there are a number of patients who complain that screw-retained, or fixed implant dentures feel unnatural.
Each individual's needs are different when it comes to replacing missing teeth, which is why we offer free consultations, allowing us to provide implant education while developing a a treatment plan that best suits your needs.