Different Dental Implant Systems

Dental implants are a safe and effective treatment option for patients who have one or multiple missing teeth and who are looking for a permanent, natural feeling solution. There are several different types of dental implant systems. Prior to determining which system is best suited to your needs, it will first be necessary to determine whether you are a viable candidate for dental implants and identify and treat any underlying conditions that caused the loss of teeth in the first place.

If you are a viable candidate for dental implants, the next step will be to determine which dental implant is best suited for your needs, which will be determined through a series of diagnostic exams which will gather information about the density and health of your jawbone and determine optimal placement for your implants. This information will also be used to determine the exact shape, width, length and surface texture of your implants, which will help ensure that your dental implant process is free of complications and that you will end up with a smile that looks and feels great.

Regardless of what type of implant system is used, your new crown will be supported by a post (typically made of titanium) that is placed into your jawbone. This post will act as the new root for your tooth and is typically made of titanium, as this metal possesses the ability of naturally fuse with surrounding jawbone over a period of time through a process called osseointegration. Patients who have a metal allergy or specific concerns about the aesthetic appearance of their implant may be recommended a zirconia implant instead.

To learn more about different dental implant systems, including the type of materials used, how the implants are constructed, and procedural steps, please refer to the following overviews.

Cement-Retained Vs. Screw-Retained Implants

When determining which dental implant system is best suited for your needs, one of the biggest considerations will be whether to use a cement-retained or a screw-retained implant. While both implant types can provide excellent results, the following factors will be important considerations when determining which system is best suited for your needs.

  • Cost: Cost of treatment is often a very important consideration for clients. While there is not a tremendous difference between the two, screw-retained implants are typically more expensive than cement-retained implants. If you would prefer to have screw-retained implants but are concerned about the additional cost, ask your periodontist if there are payment options available to help ensure you receive the care you need.
  • Difficulty of placement: A screw-retained dental implant is more difficult to place than a cement-retained implant, especially when multiple restorations are being fit. For this reason, it is important to have this procedure performed by a highly trained professional.
  • Post-Procedural Risks: Any implant has some possibility of failure, which can be caused by a variety of factors, such as peri-implantitis, improper initial placement, or the body simply rejecting the implant. In addition to the standard level of risk, cement-retained implants also carry a small risk of the cement that is used to adhere the crown reaching the sulcus. If this occurs, peri-implantitis may develop, which can result in the implant failing and needing to be removed. By contrast, screw-retained implants do not have this risk and are much easier to remove and clean for maintenance.
  • Retrievability: Though you will not be able to remove your implant yourself, there will be times when it will be necessary to temporarily remove the implant crown for cleaning and maintenance. This can also be necessary when underlying issues like peri-implantitis develop. Between these two dental implant systems, screw-retained implants are significantly easier to retrieve.

Stock Abutments Vs. Custom Abutments

When determining a treatment plan for your dental implant, another important consideration is whether to get a stock abutment, which is a standard sized abutment developed by dental implant companies and designed to be usable for most bone and tissue implants, or to get a custom abutment, which is designed to address the specific dimensions of your mouth and implant. Of the two options, stock abutments are the more cost-affordable solution, however, there are several reasons why custom abutments are generally recommended. One reason is because custom abutments will provide the most aesthetically pleasing and natural looking implant appearance. Custom abutments can be made of titanium or zirconia, be waxed or milled, are used in bone and tissue level implants, and are equally effective when used with screw-retained and cemented crowns.

Titanium Vs. Zirconia

The material type of your dental implant is another important consideration. Titanium has been the industry standard when it comes to dental implants, largely because it naturally fuses with bone and because it has a success rate of over 95%. Due to advancements in dental implant technology, an alloy has been developed that now provides the same level of biocompatibility as titanium along with increased strength; however, although this alloy material is highly effective and provides strong results, it can cause an allergic reaction in a small percentage of patients who have a metal sensitivity. As such, it is highly recommended that patients get tested for metal sensitivity prior to scheduling their dental implant procedure.

Given the possibility of metal sensitivity, some clinics have begun using metal-free zirconium implants. In addition to providing a metal-free solution, zirconia also naturally fuses with the jawbone, is durable, and will restore a patients ability to bite and chew much like they did before. One important difference, however, is that zirconium is a relatively new material type and does not have the history of research-based efficacy that titanium has.

The design of these implant types is also different. Zirconium implants are one piece held in place with cement, and are not always a viable treatment option for certain cases. Greater care must also be taken when placing zirconium implants as there is a much smaller room for error. In comparison, titanium implants offer much more versatility and flexibility for treatment and can be used with a number of different fixed restorations and overdentures. Titanium implants can be fabricated as one piece, but typically consist of an implant, abutment and crown.

While both titanium and zirconia implants can provide patients with desired results, zirconia implants are typically recommended for patients who place a large value on having as aesthetically pleasing and natural looking result as possible and/or for patients with a metal sensitivity, whereas titanium implants, given their long track record of effectiveness and affordability, are recommended for patients who are looking for a safe, effective, and more cost affordable option.

Traditional Versus Digital Impressions

One of the most important steps in ensuring that your dental implants look and feel natural and are free of complications is to have a good impression of your jawline and surrounding teeth taken. If an improper impression is taken and the implant is not properly placed, several issues can develop, including pain, misaligned bite, and ultimately implant failure.

While it is still possible to make quality dental impressions through traditional means, more and more periodontists use digital technology to ensure a heightened level of accuracy and personalization for their clients. Through the use of intraoral scanners, it is now possible to take digital impressions of your mouth, which are used to make precise restorations and provide you with an optimally fit and natural looking dental implant. When considering whether traditional or more modern dental impression techniques are used, consider the following factors:

  • Time: In addition to significantly reducing the time required to make your original impressions while you are in the chair, your digital impressions can also be sent instantaneously to a lab, which can then begin making your customized dental implants. Because digital impressions are more accurate and customized to your specific mouth, there is also a reduced likelihood of requiring multiple fittings to ensure your fit is correct. Digital impressions are also easier to place, which means your procedural time will be shorter. Finally, it is much easier to modify digital impressions compared to traditional impressions, which require entirely new impressions to be made from scratch.
  • Fitting experience: Some patients may find the experience of having a traditional mold of their mouth taken to be uncomfortable and cause their gag reflex to react, whereas the scanning process for digital restorations is less invasive, takes less time, and can be stopped instantly should the patient become uncomfortable.
  • Accuracy: Digital restorations have a higher degree of accuracy and crowns have a higher likelihood of fitting correctly and feeling natural.
  • Cost: The technology that is used to take these digital images is not cheap, and as such, clinics will need to recuperate their cost by either charging for the scans or increasing the cost of treatment. While you may end up paying a little more for the use of this technology, ultimately you will end up saving time and money due to the increased accuracy of your implant.

If you have additional questions about different dental implant systems and which system may be best suited for your needs, contact your periodontist to schedule a consultation today!

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