Chapter 2: Dental Implant Types
You made it to the second part of our guide on dental implants. Now that you have a general idea of what a dental implant is, it’s time to go a bit deeper. Let’s discuss then the types of dental implants. Whether you are familiar with dental procedures or not, dental implants can scare you or lead to doubts and a thousand questions about the procedure and your replacement teeth. This is why we want to reassure you and give you all the information you need to understand which type of dental implant is ideal for your case for your oral health to finally get a healthy mouth.
When it comes to a dental restoration option, there are different categories of types of dental implants and different macro categories. Implants can be categorized according to the number of missing teeth (single tooth and multiple teeth implants), or according to the type of dental prosthesis used (crown, bridges, or dentures). In addition, there are different types of dental implants based on implant placement so where they are inserted (in the mandible, in the cheekbones, or between the gums and the mandible), or according to the type of procedure, to name a few: immediate load dental implants, mini implants, all- on-4, 3-on-6, etc.
Types of implanting methods
When it comes to dental implants types we need to confess it is not a simple one to understand. They are complex procedures with many categories and types. However, we have promised you a complete guide to dental implants and the types of this procedure are important to understand. For this reason, we have tried not only to create a complete guide of every single dental implant type in just one article. We have also sub-categorized all of these types to make them easier to understand and to try to create order in an area that patients often find difficult to understand.
So let’s start by dividing the types of dental implants into the following categories:
- Dental implant types according to number of teeth missing
- Different types according to the dental prosthesis
- Dental implant types according to their position
- Types of a dental implant according to procedure
- Different types of materials used in dental implants
- Types of connectors or abutments
- Different sizes of dental implants are available
So, let’s start this journey.
Are you confused, scratching your head, tempted to go out of this page? Don’t! We’ll make it simple for you and, at the end of this article not only you’ll understand this but you’ll be a pro at dental implant types. You can use this knowledge for your own procedure or impress people. Your choice!
Also, we have an article on dental implant brands, if you’re looking for types of implant categorized by the production brand.
Dental implants types according to number of teeth missing
Let’s start with the simplest of distinctions. How many teeth are you missing? One? More than one? It is a fairly simple distinction that does not require tremendous medical or scientific knowledge. However, it is important for you to know as a starting point for learning about the dental implants types.
If you are missing a tooth, you will need a single tooth implant, if you are missing more teeth (from two onwards) you will need a multiple teeth implant. Logical, isn’t it?
Let’s go into more detail.
Single Tooth Implants
The single-tooth implant is the most used and recommended option for patients with one or a few missing teeth. It replaces one missing tooth at the time, not a group, like for example for all-on-four types of dental implants. This procedure uses a dental crown – first temporary than permanent. It’s perfect for people who don’t prefer a bridge or have non-adjacent teeth missing. Also, it’s perfect for people who have just one tooth missing.
Multiple implants are one of the types of dental implant you may prefer when you have more than a missing tooth creating a large gap. Usually, it’s an alternative to full mouth replacements and dentures. When you miss more than two teeth your body will start to send calcium somewhere else leaving the jawbone to deteriorate. This can create an anesthetic look, like sunken in. This is where multiple implants come in handy. It will give your body a titanium implant to send the calcium and minerals too, keeping your bone healthy and your face beautiful.
This is also the perfect solution if you have problems with your speech, chewing, and day-to-day life.
Different types according to the dental prosthesis
To fully understand the types of dental implants, we need to specify one essential thing first. Dental implants are only the part going into the gums and bone, acting as a root. The dental implant must always be used with a dental prosthesis, the external part that simulates the tooth or teeth. So let’s start from this, the dental implants types according to the type of dental prosthesis connected to them. There are three types of dental prostheses connected to an implant. These are:
- Dental implant with crowns: dental implants with dental crowns are often the best option when t a single tooth is missing or several teeth are missing but they’re not close to each other. A permanent crown, alone, is the perfect option when there is a tooth, or a part of the tooth to glue them to. If the tooth is missing, the dental implant acts as a link and connection between the bone and the dental crown.
- Dental implants with bridges: dental bridge implants are recommended for those with two or more consecutive missing teeth. Bridges with dental implants are an option if several teeth (including roots) are missing next to each other. Dental implants go inside on both sides, at the extremes. The dental bridge simulating the missing teeth stays attached to this implant. You are a candidate if at least 3 teeth are missing.
- Implant-supported dentures: dental implants with dentures are suitable for people who lack an entire dental arch, or both dental arches. It would not make sense in this case to use several bridges or many dental crowns next to each other. In this way, you will have a denture permanently secured to the gums. You may have removable dentures too with this implant. Dentures with dental implants are only possible if all the teeth in the upper and lower arch are missing. This type minimizes the pain, soreness, and looseness traditional dentures are famous for. You won’t need to use denture paste.
As you can see, the choice between the three dental implants types and prostheses varies according to the patient’s situation and their special needs.
Dental implant types according to their position
Another way to classify dental implants types is according to their dental implant placement and, in detail, where they are placed. We mean in which place of the mouth or jaw structure they are inserted or hooked.
They can be inserted inside the jawbone, in the part between the gum and the jaw, or in the zygomatic arches (in the cheeks, so to speak). These three dental implant types are:
- Endosteal or endosseous implants (In the jawbone)
- Subperiosteal Implants (between gums and jawbone)
- Zygomatic implants (zygomatic arches)
Endosteal or endosseous implants (in the jawbone)
In an Endosteal Implant, also called, Endosseous implant, titanium or ceramic implants like cylinders, screws, or blades function as a tooth root. These implants get surgically drilled to the jawbone, below your gums. There’s no direct connection between the implant and the prosthetic. There’s an abutment connecting the two parts. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, these are the most used and performed dental implants types. This procedure has two steps over a period of two to three months. It’s possible if your natural bone condition is good so if you have and healthy jawbone with an adequate jawbone density. This is one of the less-invasive techniques.
Subperiosteal implants (between gums and jawbone)
Subperiosteal Implants are not very much used at the moment. But they are part of the types of dental implants you should know about. These types of implants go under your gums but above or on your jawbone. This procedure it’s an option when there’s not enough natural bone or quantity of bone and the patient doesn’t want a bone augmentation. If there’s insufficient bone density and insufficient bone height this may be for you. The implant looks like a mental jawbone and it looks like a metal frame above your gums.
This type of dental implant doesn’t get recommended often. It’s time-consuming and the success rates are just not high enough compared to the time spent. An endosteal implant with bone augmentation is usually a better option. This type is used as a last resort.
Zygomatic implants (zygomatic arches)
They take the name after the name of the bone, the zygomatic bone. Zygomatic implants are the least common of you. This is because this is an extremely difficult procedure. It is for the patient does not have enough jaw bone for an endosteal implant and there is no desire for a bone transplant.
The implant is placed in the cheeks and requires a very invasive and also particularly expensive operation. To be more specific, zygomatic implants get fixed into the zygomatic bone, the “cheekbone”. The zygomatic bone, or cheekbones, are much denser and are able to provide a solid anchor point for your implant. They also require much longer implants compared to jawbone implants.
The zygomatic implants are placed at an angle into the zygomatic bone. The density of the bone and the angle of the implant allows the dentist to attach the dental prosthetic immediately. This means you won’t wait for teeth implantion.
Types of a dental implant according to procedure
Another way to classify dental implants is to break them down by type of procedure, i.e. how they are applied. There is not just one type of application of dental implants but multiple ones. This is because there are different needs, different situations, and different goals that change from patient to patient. It is important for a dental implant to fully adapt to the context and situation.
The main types of procedures that outline the types of dental implants are:
- Immediate load dental implants (teeth in a day)
- Two-Stage and single-stage dental implants
- Mini implants
- All-on-4 implants
- 3-on-6 implants
Immediate Load Dental Implants (same-day implants or teeth in a day)
Immediate load dental implants, also known as teeth in a day, same-day dental implants are a type of implant requiring only a day to be set. With teeth in a day, you can get your prosthetics after 48 hours from the implants. This is mostly used for a single tooth. Sometimes a temporary tooth is attached after 48 hours, others a permanent one. This mean you don’t need to have months of healing before a new procedure.
Two-Stage and Single-Stage Dental Implants
This type of dental implant only refers to the way the two implants are made. The single-stage dental implant doesn’t require the gum on top of the implant to be closed then opened. It keeps the implant uncovered and exposed, not requiring the two stages of opening and closing.
Mini implants are used for small and narrow spaces and use invasive methods. Usually, they stabilize a lower denture avoiding shifting or floating. They’re less than 3mm in diameter – way smaller than a normal dental implant – and use a one-piece screw with an end similar in shape to a ball. This part will support the replacement prosthetic.
All-on-4 dental implants
All-on-4 implants, it’s the perfect type for people who lost a high number of teeth, usually from 4 up to 6, 7, etc. This type of implant doesn’t use bone grafting and uses temporary teeth on the same day or soon after. The All-on-Four allows you to get the stability of a dental implant and the aesthetics of a dental bridge. This type of dental implant doesn’t anchor the bridge on the surrounding teeth but anchors them to the bone, making them much more stable and long-lasting.
3-on-6 dental implants
The implants called 3 on 6 dental are made by three individual dental bridges attached to six dental implants (imagine six screws to have a better idea and a dental bridge attached to two screws, one left one right). This uses a system similar to normal dental bridges, but it’s not attached to teeth – which are missing – but to an implant.
This dental implant type is perfect for a full-mouth reconstruction cause it allows having an even distribution of bite force recreating perfectly the natural function of your teeth. For example, you don’t want a denture but you’re missing an entire arch of teeth. This is your best alternative to dentures.
Different types of materials used in dental implants
When it comes to dental implants there are two common types of material used for the parts going inside the bone: titanium and zirconia.
- Titanium implants: Titanium was the first material deemed suitable for bone transplants, especially hip or knee. It has the capability to perfectly fuse with bones and create the calcification process, the merging of bone and implant. Titanium post has passed the test of time as a long-lasting, successful, and perfect option for dental implants too. It’s solid and sturdy, yet lightweight. However, some people can’t use titanium implants because of allergies or problems with the immune system.
- Zirconia implants: Zirconia may sound like a metal name but it’s actually a crystal. It’s metal-free and fairly new in the dental implants world. Zirconia implants are made by a single piece – not three like titanium. This allows for a shorter procedure. Also, zirconia is metal-free making it suitable for patients allergic to metals. On the other side, there’s not much knowledge about the durability of zirconia implants. Also, this procedure comes with a higher price tag compared to titanium.
What are the types of connectors or abutments?
When it comes to your dental implant, is important for a dentist to take into consideration your specific situation. This means using also different types of abutments – also called connectors – to better suit your needs. At the moment there are three types of abutments or connectors. The connector types you should know about are:
- Internal Hex Connector: it stands for “internal hexagonal connectors” to indicate the shape of the opening in the implant. The connector will screw inside the implant – the part going into the bone – creating a sort of a screw inside of a screw effect. The opening at the top will be hexagonal, so with six sides.
- External Hex Connector: it stands for “external hexagon connectors” because of the hexagonal shape of the connector. The connector doesn’t screw in but sits on top of the implant.
- Internal Octagon Connector: Internal octagon abutments work exactly like Internal Hex ones. So the abutment will screw inside the implant. The only difference, in this case, is the opening will have eight sides, this is why it takes the name of the octagon, from octagonal shape.
What are the sizes of dental implants available?
Another way of customizing your dental implant to your need is to pick the right size of implants. When it comes to the sizes of dental implants there are three available to pick from:
- Standard Platform: Standard size implants range in size from 3.4mm to 4.2mm in diameter. They are usually placed in the front part of the mouth. These are considered the medium size of implants.
- Wide Platform: These types of implants are used for bigger teeth so in the back of the mouth. Their diameter ranges from 4.5mm to 6mm on average.
- Mini or Narrow Body: This type is perfect for patients with a small space between the teeth roots. They aren’t candidates for the standard of wide platforms. This type is also used for temporary implants.
Tettamanti L, Andrisani C, Bassi MA, Vinci R, Silvestre-Rangil J, Tagliabue A. Immediate loading implants: review of the critical aspects. Oral Implantol (Rome). 2017;10(2):129-139. Published 2017 Sep 27. doi:10.11138/orl/2017.10.2.129
Aparicio C, Manresa C, Francisco K, et al. Zygomatic implants: indications, techniques and outcomes, and the zygomatic success code. Periodontol 2000. 2014;66(1):41-58. doi:10.1111/prd.12038