The answer is maybe/maybe not. Dental implants are routinely used to replace missing, or failing teeth. Depending on how damaged a tooth is from periodontal disease, a patient may need surgery beforehand. However, advancements in dentistry have made the need for these surgeries rare.
Originally designed in Sweden and Switzerland, the “Endosseous” implant is a post made of titanium and placed into the jawbone. When titanium is placed next to bone, the bone cells will bond to it without any signs of inflammation or “foreign-body” reaction. This phenomenon is called osseointergration, and makes titanium unique in nature. It is also the principle behind modern implant dentistry.
For people who have lost teeth to periodontal disease, they often have very little bone remaining. This means that the remaining tooth cannot accommodate some implants. In the past, most clinicians would add or “graft bone” to these deficient areas of the jaw so that the patient could have longer and wider implants.
Scientists developed two types surgeries in order to graft bone onto the jaw—the sinus lift and the ridge augmentation procedure. A sinus lift involves adding bone to the sinus through a window that is cut into the side of the sinus bone. In the ridge augmentation procedure, a bone is added to the jaw through incisions, and then the gums are pulled up to cover the new bone. Healing often takes up to 9 months or more.
These procedures are costly, invasive, and results are not always predictable. Scientists also discovered that long, wider implants could put stress on the tooth. Today, they use the 6 mm implant.
Subsequently, long-term studies of the 6mm implant done on hundreds of people have confirmed clinical findings. The short implant is a perfectly safe and viable alternative to costly invasive bone grafting, making the philosophy of “The longer, the wider, the better” a fading concept in implant dentistry.