For traditional dental implants to be successful, they need to integrate with a patient's existing jawbone. If you have decreased jaw bone density, your dentist may recommend preparatory surgeries, like sinus lifts and bone grafting, to make sure that you can support implants. However, some people may not want to undergo these surgeries due to the cost, healing time, lengthened treatment time, etc. In these types of cases, your dentist might recommend some alternative implant options that could potentially work with decreased bone density. Here are just three types of dental implants that might be a good fit.
Traditional implants are placed within the alveolar ridge or jawbone, but zygomatic implants are placed within the zygomatic bones or cheekbones. Unlike the jawbone, zygomatic bones will not lose their density as a result of periodontal disease or missing teeth. The increased bone density in the cheekbones means that these structures work as good anchor points for implants. Zygomatic implants are similar to traditional implants, but they are much longer to reach the cheekbone. A great benefit of zygomatic implants is that they can be immediately loaded with false teeth after surgery, so you won't have to wear a temporary appliance or go without teeth while the implants heal. The main downside is that the surgery for zygomatic implant placement is more complicated than traditional implants, so you may need to seek out a specialist rather than going to a general dentistry office.
Mini implants look the same as traditional implants, but they are much smaller and are more superficially placed below the gum line. These implants work well for people with low bone density, and they have some distinct advantages. The surgery is less invasive and can be done with local anesthesia. The recovery time for mini-implants is also shorter than traditional implants. Keep in mind that mini implants only work for people with the early stages of bone density loss; if then a patient has severe bone loss, he or she would need to undergo a grafting procedure beforehand.
You've probably seen traditional implants, which contain a false tooth, abutment, and post. With bladed implants, you will still have the false tooth and abutment, but instead of a thick post, you'll have a thin blade-shaped fixture below the gum line. Because blade implants are a lot thinner, they can be placed in a narrow channel in the jawbone and don't require dense bone. Blade implants also contain mesh-like openings, which makes it easier for new bone to grow into and around the implant body. Like mini-implants, blade implants are easy to place and surgery is typically quick.
Reach out to a dentist in your area to learn more about these types of implants and whether you'd be a good candidate for a dental implant restoration.