An endosteal implant is a type of dental implant that’s put in your jawbone as an artificial root to hold a replacement tooth. Dental implants are usually placed when someone has lost a tooth.
Endosteal implants are the most common type of implant. Here’s what you should know about getting this implant and if you’re a candidate.
The two dental implants used most often are endosteal and subperiosteal:
- Endosteal. Typically made of titanium, endosteal implants are the most commonly used dental implant. They’re usually shaped like small screws and are placed in the jawbone. They protrude through the gum to hold the replacement tooth.
- Subperiosteal. If you need dental implants but you don’t have enough healthy jawbone to support them, your dentist might recommend subperiosteal implants. These implants are placed on or above the jawbone and under the gum to protrude through the gum, holding the replacement tooth.
Your dentist or oral surgeon will determine if endosteal implants are the best choice for you. Along with a missing tooth — or teeth — important criteria you should meet include having:
- good general health
- good oral health
- healthy gum tissue (no periodontal disease)
- a jawbone that’s fully grown
- enough bone in your jaw
- an inability or unwillingness to wear dentures
You should also not use tobacco products.
Importantly, you must be ready to commit several weeks or months — much of that time for healing and waiting for new bone growth in your jaw — to complete the full procedure.
If your dentist doesn’t believe that endosteal implants are right for you, they may recommend alternatives, such as:
- Subperiosteal implants. Implants are placed on or above the jawbone as opposed to into the jawbone.
- Bone augmentation. This involves augmenting or restoring bone in your jaw using bone additives and growth factors.
- Ridge expansion. Bone graft material is added to a small ridge created along the top of your jaw.
- Sinus augmentation. Bone is added below the sinus, also called a sinus elevation or sinus lift.
The bone augmentation, ridge expansion, and sinus augmentation are methods for making the jawbone large or strong enough to handle endosteal implants.
The first step, of course, is for your dentist to determine that you’re a viable candidate. That diagnosis and recommended treatment must be confirmed by a dental surgeon.
In these meetings you’ll also review the entire procedure, including payment and time commitments.
After numbing the area, your initial surgery will include your oral surgeon cutting your gum to expose your jawbone. They’ll then drill holes in the bone and implant the endosteal post deep into the bone. Your gum will be closed over the post.
Following surgery, you can expect:
After the surgery, you’ll be given instructions for proper aftercare and oral hygiene during the recovery period. Your dentist may also prescribe antibiotics and pain medication.
Your dentist might also recommend eating only soft foods for about a week.
Your jawbone will grow into the implant, which is called osseointegration. It will take time (commonly 2 to 6 months) for that growth to become the solid base you need for the new, artificial tooth or teeth.
Once ossification is satisfactorily complete, your dental surgeon will reopen your gum and attach the abutment to the implant. The abutment is the piece of the implant that extends above the gum and that the crown (your real looking artificial tooth) will be attached to.
In some procedures, the abutment is attached to the post during the original surgery, eliminating the need for the second procedure. You and your oral surgeon can discuss which way is best for you.
About two weeks following abutment placement when your gums have healed, your dentist will take impressions to make the crown.
The final artificial tooth can be removable or fixed, depending on preference.
As an alternative to dentures and bridges, some people opt for dental implants.
The most commonly used dental implant is the endosteal implant. The process of getting implants takes a number of months and one or two oral surgeries.
To be a candidate for endosteal implants, you should have good oral health (including healthy gum tissue) and enough healthy bone in your jaw to properly hold the implants.