For patients who are missing their teeth, dental implants can be used to aid in restoring your smile. Implants consist of three various components. When combined together, these parts provide patients with both the function and appearance of having natural teeth. One of the main components of an implant is the abutment. Patients with an implant may not realize this, but they already have an abutment inside their mouth.
While dental implants are not the only method which can be used to replace missing teeth, in some situations, implants provide patients with a better solution compared to dental bridges or dentures. It is important to discuss your tooth replacement options with your dentist to determine which solution will best meet your needs.
Procedure for Dental Implants
To begin the process for receiving a dental implant, a metal post is surgically placed in the jaw at the site of the missing tooth. The post acts as a root and firmly holds the implant securely in the bone. A tooth-shaped crown is the placed on top of the post which allows the tooth to function normally. The abutment is the structure which securely connects the crown to the post.
In most cases, the metal post is a titanium material. Crowns are made from various materials such as metal, zirconia, ceramic, and porcelain or a combination of these materials.
The procedure for placing an implant includes several stages which can vary based on the health and state of the patient's jawbone. As an example, when the patient has a jawbone which cannot adequately support the implant, an oral surgeon may suggest the use of a bone graft. For a bone graft, an oral surgeon removes bone from another area of the body or can use synthetic bone and then attaches it to the jawbone to added strength. This additional bone gives the jawbone the ability to support the implant once the bone heals and is secured around the dental implant.
Once the initial process of the metal post placement and fusion to the jaw is complete, the abutment can then be placed. The first step may take a few months for complete healing. Abutments can be created using various materials. In most cases, the following materials are used: titanium, gold, stainless steel, zirconia or polyether ether ketone. When determining which material should be used, the dentist will evaluate the strength in addition to the hygienic properties of each option.
It is common for abutment to be customized for each patient and made in a dental lab. The structure appears just like a normal tooth, but slightly shorter. This is the optimal shape for receiving a crown.
The placement of an abutment is a minor procedure and is often conducted with the use of a local anesthesia. The dentist will attach the abutment to the implanted titanium post at the gumline. Once the gums are completely healed, the crown is screwed in and placed on the abutment.
Oral care for the implant and abutment do not differ from good oral hygiene for natural teeth. This includes twice daily brushing and flossing each day. Some patients prefer to use interdental brushes than traditional floss.
It is important to make regular visits to the dentist for cleaning and exams. The dentist ensures your teeth, gums and implants are healthy and do not have any issues.