Does Size Matter When Getting Implants?
Despite dental care improvements, millions of individuals suffer tooth loss — mostly because of periodontal disease, tooth decay and injury. For many years, your only choice of treatment for missing teeth were dentures and bridges. Today, however, you also have the option of dental implants.
Dental implant surgery could provide you with a welcome alternative to bridgework or dentures that don’t fit well. They’re also an option when there’s a lack of natural teeth roots making it so your dentist can’t build bridgework or denture tooth replacements.
If you’re thinking about getting dental implants, you probably have a lot of questions you’d like to ask.
What Are Dental Implants?
This is perhaps one of the most common and obvious first questions to ask before dental implants. A dental implant isn’t an actual tooth, but rather a prosthesis used for replacing missing teeth.
Basically, it’s a small titanium fixture the dentist inserts into your jawbone, on top of which the dentist can attach a:
- Fixed bridge
- Single crown (cap)
- Full denture
- Partial denture
After the implant integrates to the bone, the dentist connects a structure known as an abutment to your implant and then attaches your artificial tooth or teeth.
So, there are three parts to the process — the implant, the abutment and the artificial tooth.
The dentist surgically places dental implants in your jawbone. Implants serve as your missing teeth’s roots. Since the titanium in the dental implants fuses with your jawbone.
The dental implants won’t make noise, slip or cause bone damage like dentures or fixed bridgework may. Plus, the materials don’t decay like your natural teeth supporting regular bridgework could.
More To Know About Dental Implants
Dental implants are a mainstream treatment option for our patients in today’s dental world and an excellent replacement option for missing dentition.
Modern-day dental implants have been around since the 1970s. But it wasn’t until the several years later that they began to be widely accepted as a “true” treatment option for patients.
As the years have gone by, root form implants have had changes in thread design, coatings on the implants. Sizes and lengths available, connections (platform switching being one of them) etc.
As well as the treatment protocols (delayed loading, immediate loading, progressive loading, etc.)
All of this with the hopes of making implants easier, faster and more predictable and stabile in the long term for our patients.
For many years, it was believed that the biggest, longest implant you could place, the better it could handle the “load” and the better it would be for your patient.
Improvements in Dental Implants Surgery
As time has passed and we have become more accustomed to having a restorative-driven treatment plan for implants.
And with the advent of cone beam 3-D imaging being readily available to assess the surgical site. Implant placement has actually become more challenging as we have come to realize that often times.
There is limited bone available in order to place them in the ideal position. Also, at the same time has made the process more predictable.
Having all of this information oftentimes leads the clinician to a crossroads in treatment: Do I graft or do I go to a smaller/shorter implant?
The sinus area coupled with poor bone density makes it difficult to obtain ideal primary implant stability. That being said, it would seem this area would be a great “proving ground” for implant survival rates.
Thus, give us valuable information on how implant size and length. And many other factors can have a positive impact, making implant placement in the posterior maxilla more predictable.
A recent large retrospective study that included almost 1,400 implants suggests that implant size and length in relation to survivability wasn’t a predictor of failure.
This included implants less in 3.6 mm in diameter and less than 10 mm in length. As well as implants placed into native bone alone vs. ones with a sinus elevation.
Additionally, another study in late 2014, evaluating more than 4,500 implants some as short as 6 mm in length, placed in the posterior mandible and posterior maxilla, with up to a 10-year follow up, having 100 percent and 87 percent success, respectively.
So, the next time you see limited bone and think that there is not enough bone or that it won’t work because the implants will be too small, you may want to reconsider. Stay tuned as technology and research continue to shape the future of dentistry.