Dental Implant Parts

Dental implants have proven, over time, to be an ideal permanent solution for people who require dental prosthetics. The main parts of a dental implant all work together to provide the wearer with natural-looking, functionally strong dental prosthetics like bridges and crowns. There are three primary components of each dental implant: the fixture, the abutment, and the prosthesis.

The fixture is the dental implant itself. This is a small cylinder, resembling a screw, that is surgically implanted under the gums. The implant is placed where the roots of the missing teeth once were, into the bone; an oral surgeon will drill a small hole into the bone to place the implant. Once the implant is placed, the gum is stitched over the site and the site is allowed to heal. As the surgical site heals, the implant fixture fuses with the bones of the jaw, becoming integrated with the bone itself. This is called “osseointegration,” and it usually takes about 6 to 9 months for the process to complete. Once the fixture has fully integrated with the bone, it can permanently function as the roots of the tooth did. Implant fixtures are usually made of titanium, which has excellent biocompatibility and is strong, resilient, and resistant to corrosion.

The implant, which lies completely under the gums, needs an attachment so that the false tooth or denture can be affixed to the implant. This attachment is the abutment. The abutment is a short screw that extends beyond the gums to support the prosthetic tooth. Abutments can be made of metal -- usually surgical stainless steel, titanium, or gold -- or of ceramic or another material that matches the tooth. The abutment can also be separate from the fixture, or it can be integrated into a single unit. When the abutment is separate from the fixture, it is most frequently attached after osseointegration has occurred, which allows the dental health professional to assess the healing of the fixture and make sure that it has properly healed and is stable and sturdy in the jaw. In certain instances, however, and with certain types of implants, it may be preferable to place the implant and the abutment at the same time so that a temporary restoration can be provided while osseointegration happens and the permanent restoration is crafted.

The third part of the dental implant is the prosthesis. This is the part that replaces the actual tooth, and it therefore is made to resemble and behave just like a real, natural tooth. Dental prostheses are usually made of porcelain or ceramic, and they can be attached to the abutment with a screw, a taper, or cement.

The individual components of the dental implant are designed to be highly durable and are intended to last a lifetime when cared for properly. Dental implants allow the wearer to eat all the foods they want to enjoy, to talk normally and without impediment, and to smile confidently. Because dental implants function just like real teeth, it’s important to care for them just as you would your real teeth, brushing twice daily and flossing, and to visit the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. This will help the implant last as long as it should by maintaining the health of the gums and bone that hold it into place, providing the wearer with an endless supply of confident smiles.

Definition of Dental Abutments