Zygomatic Dental Implants

Zygomatic (Zygoma) implants provide a solution for those interested in dental implants but are unable to sustain them due to severe bone loss in the upper jaw. Zygomatic implants avoid the need for bone grafting (bone augmentation). These implants (unlike conventional ‘root form’ dental implants which are placed into the jaw to replace teeth) are placed into the zygomatic bone (cheekbone) to provide support for the upper jaw (maxillary) teeth, bridges and dentures.

Perhaps you have been told that you need dental implants, BUT you are not a candidate because of the lack of bone in your upper jaw.  This leaves you to believe nothing else can be done. Zygomatic implants may be used to reconstruct the upper teeth structures when the upper jawbone quality or quantity is reduced and unsuitable for the placement of regular ‘root form’ dental implants.

Bone atrophy (resorption) is described as the process of bone loss due to cell degeneration. It is a natural occurrence after a single tooth extraction, or multiple extractions. The jawbone will start to shrink causing the body to lose bone in that area. A lot of jawbone loss happens from the wear of dentures. Patients who wear dentures for many years, often have advanced atrophy of the jawbone which reduces the quality and/or volume of bone needed for securing dental implants.

Upper jaw (maxillary) bone loss may occur as a result of bone resorption (lost when the teeth are missing-roots no longer anchor into the jawbone to maintain bone mass) and pneumatization of the maxillary sinus (the air volume of the sinus increases with age and the bone volume decreases) or a combination of both.

When the jawbone is less than 10 mm (vertical height), regular ‘root form’ implants will need bone grafting (alveolar augmentation, sinus lift grafting) in order to stabilize the implants and increase their length of survival.

Bone grafting procedures in the jaws are successful but the disadvantage is prolonged treatment time (extra stages needed for bone graft placement, healing and maturation, and then implant placement). Additionally, a denture must be worn while the bone grafts heal (approximately 3-4 months). Sometimes the bone graft is rejected (if it doesn’t heal properly) and you often experience additional pain and swelling when certain types of bone graft material are used.

Even when teeth are still present, they can be affected by gum disease (periodontal disease) or severe infections that cause the destruction of the jawbone. These patients are often determined as unsuitable for conventional dental implant treatment and zygomatic implants may be the ideal solution. But what are zygomatic implants and why might you need them?

What are zygomatic implants?

Zygoma implants anchor into the zygomatic bone (cheek bone), where the bone is denser than the upper jaw. This solid basis for implant support spreads stress across a broad area and allows for successful immediate placement of dental bridges at the time of surgery (no need to use a denture or good without teeth for any period).

These implants have been in use since the late 1980’s and have a long history of success. Zygomatic implants have been used for dental rehabilitation in patients with insufficient bone in the posterior upper jaw secondary to a number of conditions – for example, increased bone loss with advancing age (patients who have lost teeth or worn dentures from an early age), after resection of tumors, trauma, or severe bone resorption (atrophy).

Zygomatic also known as ‘Zygoma’ is an alternative to bone grafting procedures in the upper jaw. They are dental implants that transverse inside your upper jaw to anchor into the underside of the cheekbones. These Implants are inserted into the back section from within your mouth and can be combined with one or more regular (root form) implants in the front part of your jaw

Depending on the patient’s needs, either two (one on each side) or four (two on each side) implants are placed to support full or partial dental bridges.

The procedure is safe and predictable when performed by an oral surgeon with experience in the technique. The treatment is performed under anesthesia as same-day surgery, a complete set of immediate teeth can be connected to the implants the very same day.

What is the difference between zygomatic and standard dental implants?

A zygoma implant is considerably longer than a standard dental implant; it is still inserted through the upper jaw, but it anchors into the cheekbone (zygomatic bone) as opposed to the dental arches (alveolar bone) in the mouth. Due to the solid bone found in the cheeks, zygomatic implants have high, immediate stability that is a perfect foundation for immediate placement of same-day teeth.

Why are zygoma implants inserted into the back of the jaw?

The jawbone (alveolar bone) at the back of the upper jaw is prone to resorption (atrophy) much more than other areas of tooth-bearing bone. As such, the zygoma implant bypasses the need for extensive bone grafting that might otherwise be required to place regular (root form) dental implants. Compared to bone grafting procedures, the surgery for zygomatic implants is less invasive, quicker to recover from, does not require the patient to wear a denture or go without teeth for any period, and causes a lot less discomfort.