The tissue that covers bone like a tightly fit blanket is called the periosteum. The word beginning sub- means under, like a submarine goes under the water ( marine ). A subperiosteal implant goes under the periosteum and sits on top of the jaw bone. A subperiosteal dental implant does not go into the bone; the subperiosteal dental implant goes on top.
A subperiosteal dental implant covers much of the lower jaw. A modern subperiosteal dental implant has three feet, one on each side and one in the front. Years ago all subperiosteal dental implants were made by cutting open a dental implant patients gums and taking an impression of the bone. The patient would then return a month later to again have the gums cut open and the subperiosteal dental implant is installed. This method requires two surgeries.
Modern CAT scan equipment and the computer software that helps run the machines are much more sophisticated and accurate. In many cases a CAT scan can be taken and a precise model made of the patient. The subperiosteal dental implant is then made on the CAT scan model instead of a model made from a surgical impression. The patient only has one surgery, the one to surgically insert the subperiosteal dental implant.
A subperiosteal dental implant is used when a dental implant patient has very little bone left. Since a subperioseal dental implant sits on top of bone instead of going into bone, the subperiosteal dental implant requires less bone to be successful. Many implant dentists use the word sub as a shortened name for subperiosteal dental implant.