Potentially Confusing Terms Your Dentist May Use When Discussing Your Dental Implants

Posted on: 9 April 2015

While most patients pull through the process of having dental implants put into place perfectly fine, it is a surgical procedure. Thus, it's important that you understand what your dentist says to you regarding the procedure, how it will be performed, and what you can expect after surgery. Dentists are human, too, and sometimes they forget that their patients are not as knowledgeable about medicine and dental care as they are. As a result, they may use terminology that you find confusing. Knowing the meaning of a few key terms will help you to better decipher your dentist's explanation of your dental implant surgery.

Endosteal: This term refers to a specific type of dental implant. An endosteal implant is the most common type of implant and consists of a screw or cylinder that is placed directly inside the jawbone.

Subperiosteal: Another type of implant, subperiosteal implants are placed between the gums and jaw bone. Your dentist may recommend this procedure if your jaw bone is not strong enough to support endosteal implants.

Grafting: Grafting is a process by which your dentist attaches new bone to the existing bone in your jaw. This makes it better able to support the implant. Sometimes cadaver bone is used for grafting, and other times, artificial materials are used. Grafting is not always necessary prior to implants; it is required when the jawbone is weak or partially eroded.

Ridge Modification: Some people have unusual ridges in their jaw bones that make it difficult to insert an implant. A ridge modification procedure fills in these ridges with bony material to increase the chances of success with implants.

Sinus Lift: No, this isn't plastic surgery. A sinus lift is a procedure in which the upper jaw's height is increased by filling part of the sinus with bone. This may be necessary if you are having implants placed in your upper jaw.

Nerve Repositioning: It's strange to think of someone moving your nerve, but this is exactly what this term means. Your dentist may need to move the nerves that run along your jaw bone in order to ensure they are not disturbed by the implant. This is a risky procedure because there's a chance of permanently damaging the nerve, so dentists only perform it when absolutely necessary.

Hopefully knowing the meanings of the terms above will make your dental implant conversations with your dentist easier to understand. Don't be afraid to stop your dentist and ask questions if you don't understand something he or she is explaining. Your dentist will understand that you're about to undergo surgery and want to be fully informed beforehand.