Zygomatic Implants: Transforming Lives by Restoring Chewing Function and Aesthetics

Zygomatic Implants

Is it possible for people with insufficient bone density in the upper jaw to receive dental implants? Absolutely yes! Zygomatic implants have come as a blessing for people with maxillary atrophy (severe dental bone loss) and accompanying tooth loss, making it possible for them to have safe, effective, and long-lasting teeth replacement. 

However, many people with upper jaw atrophy are still unaware of zygomatic dental implants as it’s a relatively recent development in implant technology. This information gap is unfortunate, as zygomatic implants can transform such people’s lives, and they deserve to benefit from it.

This blog will discuss everything you need to know about zygomatic implants, including what they are, how they work, and more, so you can confidently pursue it as a teeth replacement option.

So, What Are Zygomatic Implants?

Let’s start with the basics and set up our foundational knowledge of zygomatic implants.

So, zygomatic implants are an innovative type of dental implant that utilise the cheekbones (also known as the ‘zygomatic’ bones, giving these implants their unique name) for their placement. 

While these implants are different from regular implants (in that they are not placed into the jawbone and are anchored to the cheekbones instead), their core purpose is the same as traditional implants: providing people with a comfortable, stable, and safe teeth replacement.

Who Needs Zygomatic Implants And Why?

Zygomatic implants are specifically made for people who are not eligible for receiving regular (traditional) implants because of severe bone loss in the ‘upper’ jaw (also known as maxilla). 

In such people, upper jaw bone loss could result from several factors, including chronic periodontal disease, trauma to the upper jaw, hormonal imbalances, genetic predisposition, bone-related disorders, etc. Regardless of the cause of upper jawbone loss, people who suffer from it can’t get traditional dental implants as their jawbone is not strong enough to hold and retain the implants. Therefore, the cheekbone is used as an alternative to the jawbone, and implants are anchored into the cheekbones to give them the support and healing required for implant success.

Before the development of zygomatic implants, the only way to replace teeth in people with severe maxillary atrophy was to perform bone grafting for bone regeneration in their upper jaw. However, most patients aren’t willing to undergo bone grafting due to the extra costs and time it adds to the treatment process, and also because it can be a painful procedure to experience. 

Zygomatic implants are a perfect solution in this case, as they eliminate the need for supplemental pre-surgery procedures (like bone grafting) altogether, and patients can directly get the implants without any hassle.

Why Are Zygomatic Implants Placed In The CheekBones?

There’s a good rationale behind the use of the cheekbones as a placement site for zygomatic implants, which is broken down as follows:

  • The cheekbones are the nearest bones to the upper jaw, hence the easiest to access for implant placement.
  • The cheekbones have an arch-like shape similar to the shape of the jawbone, making it easy to angle the implants in them.
  • The cheekbones are dense enough to provide the optimal level of support and healing to the implants.
  • Placement of implants in the cheekbones eliminates the need for bone-grafting in the upper jaw (which would’ve been absolutely necessary if the patient opted for traditional implants instead of zygomatic ones), making the implant procedure quicker and less invasive.

Due to the aforementioned reasons, the cheekbones provide an excellent alternative to the upper jawbone for the placement of implants in people with maxillary atrophy and associated tooth loss, rendering zygomatic implants a great teeth replacement option for them.

How Are Zygomatic Implants Placed?

The placement procedure for zygomatic implants is different from that of traditional implants, but it’s nonetheless a safe and effective procedure with a commendable success rate, where less than 4% of procedures result in dental implant failure. These implants are placed into the cheekbones following a 3-step procedure, which includes:

Step#1: Consultation And Diagnostics 

This step involves your initial consultation with your chosen implant surgeon (who should be an expert in zygomatic implants, as zygomatic implants aren’t regular implants and require specialized skills and training for successful placement). This is part of the reason why zygomatic dental implants cost a bit more than traditional implants.

During this consultation, your surgeon would assess your suitability for the zygomatic implant procedure and perform all the necessary diagnostic protocols using modern diagnostic machines like 3D CT scanners, X-ray machines, etc. This will help them study your overall dental anatomy as well as explore specific aspects like the size and location of your sinuses, as these aspects can interfere with the implant placement procedure. They’ll then utilize the diagnostic information that they’ve accumulated in carefully planning out the position and angulation of the implants in the cheekbones. 

Step#2: Implant Placement Surgery 

The surgeon then places implants in the cheekbones as per the planning done in the previous stage. For this, your cheekbones are tuned via small openings/holes that are made in your gums. Through these openings, implants (which are longer than regular implants to accommodate the distance between the upper jaw and the cheekbones) are surgically inserted into the cheekbones.

The implants are then left to heal for a period of 6-8 weeks during which they will fuse with the cheekbones to attain a strong and stable foundation for the attachment of permanent fake teeth. Meanwhile, temporary fake teeth (a bridge or a permanent denture, depending on the extent of tooth loss) are attached to the implants in order to allow the patient to eat and drink conveniently.

Step#3: Placement Of Permanent Restoration 

Once the implants have completely integrated with the cheekbones, your surgeon will remove the temporary fake teeth and replace them with a permanent restoration (bridge/ implant denture). 

You’re required to take care of your implants (both before and after the permanent restoration placement) to ensure that the implants stay protected. For this, it’s best to avoid any activities that may potentially damage your cheekbone, such as engaging in contact sports. 

Conclusion

Zygomatic implants are a great way of restoring chewing ability and aesthetics in people with severe upper jawbone loss. Its intelligent utilization of the cheekbones for implant placement has transformed the lives of people globally. This gives them a complete and beautiful smile to cherish.

For more details on this innovative treatment, don’t hesitate to reach out to the zygomatic implant experts practicing at San Diego Implant Clinic, located in San Diego, California. Book a FREE consultation with us today, and let our team of experts streamline your journey to a smile transformation.

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