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What Are Zygomatic Dental Implants?

closeup of a smiling person's mouth

Have you started to look for dental implants, only to be told that the bone density in your jaws isn’t enough to get them? Maybe you were recommended a zygomatic dental implant, but don’t know what it is. Don’t worry, this article is here to help.

Zygomatic dental implants are similar to traditional implants (known as bone grafting) However, instead of grafting to the upper jaw, they connect to the cheekbones. This is often used when people need to get artificial upper teeth, but don’t meet the prerequisites to do so.

Keep reading to learn more about zygomatic dental implants, including the pros and cons and what to expect during your surgery.

What Is the Purpose of Zygomatic Dental Implants?

Zygomatic dental implants are focused on teeth replacements for the upper jaw. Instead of a bone graft, the zygomatic implant instead uses anchors in the cheekbones (known as the zygomatic bone) to hold the replacements where they need to be.                                             

The zygomatic bone is a lot stronger and thicker than the upper jaw bone (the maxillary bone). This alternative method affords a lot more patients the option of getting dental implants than they would have if only traditional bone grafting methods were used.

It is also a great way to reduce the number of surgeries someone is getting. Since you will be put under for the procedure, other surgeries, such as tooth removal, can be done at the same time.

Also, unlike grafting, only one surgery is required. This is especially beneficial for patients that have underlying conditions that might make subsequent surgeries more difficult or hazardous to their health.

Zygomatic Dental Implants System Illustration

When Are People Candidates for Zygomatic Dental Implants?

Traditionally, when your upper teeth need to be replaced, it is done via bone grafting. However, there are a large number of people who, though they need dental implants, are unable to get them.

This is due to a lack of bone density around the upper jaw area. If someone has been told in the past that they don’t have enough bone density or volume in the past, zygomatic implants are an option for them to receive the dental implants they need.

With bone grafting, there is a lot of success, but there is also the chance of rejection, and it eliminates a lot of people from getting dental implants this way.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Zygomatic Dental Implants?

Pros

Overall, zygomatic dental implants are considered a very safe surgery. It provides a few benefits over traditional grafting.

  • Good for those that can’t get traditional bone grafts. Some people just don’t have the bone density needed for traditional bone grafts that use the upper jaw bone. With the zygomatic implant, many more people can get the procedure done using the more dense cheekbone instead.
  • Doesn’t require any additional procedures. Sometimes, when grafting for new dental implants, a patient requires other procedures such as a sinus lift. This can add extra costs, time, and pain for the individual.
  • Can wear the implants immediately after they are inserted. The way the zygomatic dental implant works means that prosthetics can be inserted and used at the same time the implants are placed. With bone grafting, you have to wait until the implant and bone heal and have to go without your prosthetic teeth during this time.
  • Success rates are as high as 98%. There are very few unsuccessful implants and there are only a few side effects, if any.

Cons

Like with any surgery, even minor ones, there are some complications that occur. Even while being considered a safe procedure, no surgery is 100% without any problems. Below are the most common forms of problems that are found to occur after a zygomatic dental implant surgery is performed.

  • Sinusitis
  • Nasal bleeding
  • Problems and difficulty with speech and oral hygiene
  • Soft tissue problems

There may also be other issues with zygomatic dental implants. These side effects are usually pretty minor and don’t interfere with daily life that much.

 These include:

  • Inability to eat hard foods for two weeks or more
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • May need to take antibiotics

How Long Do Zygomatic Dental Implants Last?

Zygomatic dental implants are still a fairly new dental treatment. However, in the 30 or so years they have been available, they have only gained popularity.

There are still a lot of studies being conducted on these implants, including how long they will last and what conditions can weaken them. However, the results so far have been excellent.

If taken care of, zygomatic dental implants can easily last a lifetime. After 12 years, there is still a 96% survival rate for implants in the zygomatic arch.

There is always a little variability between studies, but on average, results are anywhere between 82% and 100% effective, even after a follow-up. The initial cost of zygomatic implants may be worrisome, but with it lasting a lifetime, you won’t regret it.

What to Expect With Zygomatic Dental Implants

Your doctor will go through more details on what to expect from the surgery and after, but it can help to reduce some anxiety to understand how the procedures work.

Dentist appointments are often much more feared than traditional doctor’s appointments. Having to do surgery on your teeth can heighten that fear.

Thankfully, zygomatic dental implants are simple enough to perform. You won’t even be aware of what is happening, so you don’t have to worry about sitting still while they dig around in your mouth.

 

  1. Efficiency is the first priority. These are designed to be efficient and remove the need for a second surgery. Therefore, if you also have teeth to be removed, they will generally perform both at the same time.
  2. Put to sleep. Most of the time, you will be put under for the procedure, to make it easier for you and the doctor.
  3. Small incision. Once you are safely under, a small incision is performed on your gums so there is access to the jawbone.
  4. A drill helps to make room for the implant in both your jaw and cheekbone.
  5. Implants placed. Generally, zygomatic dentistry requires fewer implants than traditional methods, so you will only need two to four implants.
  6. Temporary teeth. After the surgery, you will be given temporary teeth until the implants can fully heal. This can take four to six months, and then you will be given your proper artificial teeth.
  7. Woken up. After the surgery is over, you will be woken up.
  8. You will be watched for a while after you are awake to make sure there are no complications and that you are conscious enough to leave. For this surgery, it is a good idea to have someone be there to give you a ride home, as it won’t be safe to drive yourself.
  9. Keep notes. During these four to six months, it is a good idea to keep notes of any adjustments or comfort issues you noticed while the implants were healing.

It is worth noting that you will likely feel pain and experience bruising and swelling in the area. However, since minimal trauma is done to the surrounding area, usually basic over-the-counter (OTC) medication is fine.

Sometimes, you will be given antibiotics as well, to prevent any infection that may occur. This can help with some of the cons and side effects that can come from the surgery.

Conclusion

Going to the dentist is scary for everyone. Getting surgery is even worse. However, when it comes to implant surgeries, zygomatic dental implants are some of the easiest. You will be put under, and only have minimal pain and discomfort at the end of it all.

If you have constantly been told you can’t get dental implants because of your jaw’s bone density, don’t wait anymore. Getting a zygomatic dental implant doesn’t require a specific jaw bone density, is pretty quick and painless, and doesn’t cost more than the average bone grafting.

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