Implant abutments connect dental implant fixtures to dental crowns, bridges, or removable dentures. Dental abutments can be prefabricated, or they can be custom-made.
Prefabricated dental abutments, also called stock abutments, are made in a wide array of shapes and sizes and usually are manufactured and supplied along with the implant fixture they’re compatible with. Prefabricated abutments are usually made of metal materials, like titanium, stainless steel, or gold; zirconium abutments are a relatively recent innovation that more closely resembles the shade of the teeth and is becoming increasingly popular for this reason, especially for restorations that will be placed in highly visible areas of the mouth. Titanium alloys are very strong and biocompatible and are the most widely used type of abutments, especially in the posterior molars where strength is of the utmost importance, as these teeth bear the most significant load during chewing.
The type of abutment is chosen based on the type of prosthesis that will be affixed to the abutment, the type of attachment that will be used, and the position of the implant in the mouth. Dental prosthetics can be attached to abutments with dental cement, or with a screw. When screws are used, the restorations are then sealed around the screw with a dental composite material. Special-retainer abutments may also be used; these resemble the male component of a male-female adapter, and the female component is built into the denture, which is then snapped onto the male abutments. Finally, angulated abutments may be used when the implant has to be placed at an angle, due to lack of healthy bone tissue or the position of the missing teeth. When implants are angled, the abutments must still be parallel to one another to allow the teeth to align properly, which leads to the need for angulated abutments.
Custom-made abutments are made in dental laboratories and are based on an impression of the mouth of the patient. These are made from a variety of materials and in all manner of shapes and sizes, depending on the needs of the wearer and the intended application of the abutment. All types of abutments can be custom-made, featuring all different types of anchoring systems and made of any of the preferred materials. Custom abutments may be preferable for unique clinical cases or specific dental needs.
After the implant fixture is placed into the jaw in the spot of the missing teeth, it is given ample time to heal and to fuse into the bone. If a patient’s jawbone is weak or has resorbed significantly, the dental health professional may recommend a bone graft procedure so that there is a sufficient amount of bone to support a prosthetic. Bone graft procedures use bone from another part of the patient’s body or artificial bone and attach this to the existing bone. Implant fixtures can also be placed at an angle in the bone, utilizing the greatest amount of healthy, available bone tissue. In this case, the abutment must be angled so that the teeth will still be parallel; the implant fixture will therefore be angled away from the crown and not attached linearly.
Dental Implant Crowns