Length of the Dental Implant: Does it Matter?

Question:

Les asks:

I had #13 extracted almost 3 months ago (wasn't infected, dentist did not know why it hurt, he thought it might have had a minute crack in it, but nothing seen after it was extracted). I want to get an implant for that tooth.
The original tooth root was 7 mm long; the tooth above the gumline was 6 mm long.

The surgeon tells me that the implant post has to be at least 11 mm long - he says it will come within 1 mm of the sinus. In the past, I have had problems with dental surgery; also, sinus problems.

Does the post HAVE to be this long? Almost twice as long as the original root? (I do understand that the post provides surface for the bone to 'grow onto') This tooth is not a chewing tooth, so I am assuming that it would not be subjected to a lot of force.

When I weigh the risk of damaging the sinus, and increased pain of drilling thru all that additional bone, does the post HAVE to be that long? (I do understand that it probably has to be longer than the original tooth root, to anchor into 'virgin' bone). Thanks, Les

Answer:
Answered by: Dr. Ken Ross

Lighthouse Point, FL

Hi Les,

Hypothetically speaking the length of an implant does not in any way relate to the length of the extracted tooth unless the implant is being placed at the time of extraction (immediate extraction site implant).

In a case such as yours where after extraction bone is presumably “filling in” the extraction site, there is no reason why an 8mm or 10mm long implant would need to be considered.

In reality all of the research shows it is the width, not length, of the implant that determines the strength or amount of bone surrounding the implant.

If you have a history of chronic sinusitis than you would prefer to avoid sinus augmentation if possible. That said if the implant surgeon can stay 1mm from the sinus you would not have to be concerned with sinus issues.

Having problems with dental surgery rarely equates to implant therapy. This is especially true if extraction and bone grafting are not simultaneously performed with implant placement. There is no pain whatsoever with “drilling through all that bone” and you would not be able to sense the difference of “Drilling” for an 8mm or 12mm long implant. The issue of “virgin bone” no longer applies as it is not an immediate extraction implant site and when you have your implant placed it will be placed into bone that is all virgin bone at that point!



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