Most patients who have never had dental implants before assume that an implant is an implant; they're all about the same. So if you've just been told by your dentist that you need a specific type of implant called a "subperiosteal implant," you might be a bit confused. Is this the same as a regular dental implant? Why do you need this kind, specifically? Read on to learn the answers to these questions and more.
What is a subperiosteal dental implant?
The most common type of dental implant, and the type you've probably seen or heard of before, is called an endosteal implant. This type of implant consists of a screw-like device that is inserted into your jaw bone where your tooth root used to be located. The jaw bone heals around it, and a crown (or false tooth) is attached to the top.
Endosteal implants work for many patients, but if you're not one of them, your dentist will recommend subperiosteal implants instead. These are implants that are not placed directly into your jaw bone. Instead, they are shaped like a flat or slightly curved sheet of metal that fits around your jaw bone, but under your gums. The sheet of metal has little "pegs" that project though your gums, and false teeth are attached to these pegs.
Why do you need subperiosteal implants?
If your doctor is recommending subperiosteal implants, it's probably because he or she feels that your jaw bone is not strong enough to support an endosteal implant. If your jaw bone is too weak and an endosteal implant is inserted into it, the implant might be unstable or you may even end up with a fractured or infected jaw bone. Rather than expose you to these risks, your dentist would rather use a safer, less invasive subperiosteal implant.
Are there downfalls to this type of implant?
The reason endosteal implants are used whenever possible is that the presence of the screw in the jawbone helps keep the jawbone from deteriorating. You don't get this benefit with a subperiosteal implant, which is why dentists typically only recommend subperiosteal implants when endosteal implants are not an option. You might continue to experience some loss of jaw bone strength and structure with a subperiosteal implant, but rest assured that if your dentist is recommending this type of implant, he or she has determined that this is a smaller risk than the risks that endosteal implants would present to you.