A dental implant is a screw that is inserted into the alveolar bone, the bone that supports the teeth. It acts as an “artificial dental root” that can accommodate a prosthesis, therefore referred to as an “implant-supported prosthesis”. When the implant is stable in the jaw bone, the prosthesis is installed on it. This type of prosthesis can be permanently attached to the implant.
The following list deals only with fixed prostheses on one or more dental implants:
- Single implant: the prosthesis is a simple artificial crown that is screwed onto a pillar, itself screwed into the implant. It is used to replace a single tooth, or sometimes a few teeth that can be properly supported with a single implant;
- All-on-4® technology: this recent technique supports a complete dental prosthesis on four implants, both in the maxilla and mandible. The patient must be completely edentulous on one or two jaws to benefit from this technique. The technique can be used even with low bone volume in the jaws, so it is therefore rare to have to resort to a bone graft beforehand. The secret of this technique is the insertion of the two posterior implants at a 45 degree angle into the jaw bone, which gives them greater stability. The installation of implants and prosthesis is done in a single visit to the dental office. As a result, the All-on-4® technique is less invasive and recovery is shorter than other treatment plans. The cost of this treatment plan may be lower depending on the number of implants required;
- The bridge: it is used to replace both a single tooth and a complete dentition. It is an alternative to the traditional butterfly bridge (a bridge permanently attached to adjacent natural teeth) when the teeth on either side of the edentulous space are not healthy enough or if too many teeth are missing to attach a traditional bridge. If there are natural teeth adjacent to the bridge, they are not modified (ground) as in the case of a traditional butterfly bridge, which preserves them a little longer;
- 5-6-7-8-10 implants: this technique is used to permanently install a complete dental prosthesis (dentures). Although four dental implants may be sufficient to support a complete prosthesis, especially with the All-on-4® technique, it is sometimes recommended to insert five, six, eight or even ten implants into the alveolar bone to support such a prosthesis. The factors that most influence the number of implants needed are the quality and quantity of the bone substance, the desired stability and the recommended alveolar bone stimulation (and therefore the cessation or slowing of jaw bone resorption) by your oral health professional. Usually, more implants will be needed if:
- the quantity of bone is insufficient or if the quality of the bone is poor;
- The stability of the prosthesis is an important feature for you;
- the stimulation of the alveolar bone should be as great as possible according to your condition to avoid serious bone resorption problems.
It is more common to use eight or more implants to support a complete prosthesis in the upper jaw than in the lower jaw. Prostheses attached to the lower jaw more rarely require the use of more than six implants.
There are also removable prostheses on implants, i.e. dentures that attach to implants to make them more stable in the mouth; they can be easily removed for cleaning.