If you require a dental implant to be fitted, then the most common type that will be offered to you is something called an endosteal implant. This is little more than a screw which creates a post onto which dental prosthetics can be attached. With a sufficiently strong jawbone, a metal implant is screwed in place, making a firm anchor point. If these are not suitable then a subperiosteal implant may be offered which does not go into the bone but which sits under the gum. Again, this sort of dental implant is not suitable for all patients, in which case your dentists may turn to a third type of implant—zygomatic implants. What are they and why are they used?
The Zygomatic Bone
Although it is preferable to anchor an upper dental implant into your upper jawbone, in the case that this isn't possible, your cheekbone will make an alternative fastening position. The cheekbone is widely referred to as the malar bone but also as the zygomatic bone. It is for this reason that zygomatic implants are so called.
Why Might the Upper Jaw Be Unsuitable?
A zygomatic implant may be a preferred course of action because the quality of the bone in your upper jawbone, or maxilla, is deemed to be too low. This may cause an endosteal implant to simply fall out or even destroy the bone further. Perhaps this is because it has suffered from some form of trauma in the past or because of bone resorption, which effectively breaks down bone structures, carrying away key minerals into the bloodstream. Whatever the reason, if the maxilla cannot be used, the zygomatic bone offers an alternative for upper teeth.
Is Fitting Zygomatic Implants Safe?
There are few problems associated with zygomatic implants, despite them being a newer form of dental implant. The procedure for using the cheekbone as an anchoring point was developed in Sweden by Per-Ingvar Brånemark, an orthopaedic surgeon. His work pioneered zygomatic dental implants in the 1990s, and although they are less common than other implants, they are widely considered to be safe for most patients.
Bear in mind, however, than a typical zygomatic implant is larger than any other type and, as such, will typically cause more swelling and short-term localised tissue damage when one is fitted. A zygomatic implant could measure anything from 30mm in length to around 50mm depending on the size of the patient and the location of the implant.