Most people don't think much about the different components of dental implants. That is, of course, until you have one or missing teeth and need implants yourself. Then all of a sudden, you can find yourself wondering, "What's an abutment, and why is one going to be in my mouth?" If you're in the market for replacement teeth, we'll let you know what this important part is so you can have knowledgeable discussions with your dental professional and feel confident you're getting new teeth that will make you smile.
The Role An Abutment Plays In A Dental Implant
An abutment is a metal connector that your dental professional will place into your dental implant after you've healed from your surgery. The abutment screws into the implant and securely holds your crown (your fake tooth) in place. If you have a dental bridge, crowns will be placed on two abutments, connected by other replacement teeth called pontics that rest on top of your gums.
Abutments are usually made in a dental lab and are most commonly made from titanium, gold, stainless steel, zirconia, or polyether ether ketone. Placing the abutment is a minor procedure and is often done with local anesthesia to numb any potential pain.
Dental implants are metal fixtures that mimic tooth roots, surgically fastened into your jawbone below the gums. These metal implants become anchored to your bone through osseointegration (the bone fuses to the metal) and provide stability for your abutment and your crown on par with your actual teeth. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the healing process after getting an implant can take 6-12 weeks.
If your dental professional deems that your jawbone isn't strong enough or thick enough to support an implant, they may recommend a bone graft. In this procedure, an oral surgeon takes bone from another portion of the body or uses synthetic bone and would attach it to your jawbone. This will provide sturdy support for your replacement teeth once the bone heals tightly around the dental implant.
Properly caring for your implants is actually very similar to caring for your natural teeth. Brush at least twice a day, brushing along the gums and sweeping the toothbrush toward the biting surface of the tooth. Clean between your teeth with interdental brushes or water flossers at least once a day, and consider using other helpful products like antimicrobial mouthrinses and tongue scrapers.
Be sure to see your dental professional for regular appointments – not only to keep your teeth pearly white and bacteria-free but also to check the health of your implant. They may take X-rays to check the bone level surrounding your implant, and they will also check the gum tissue near your abutment to make sure the area is healthy and free of inflammation.
Now that you know more about abutments and the other dental implant components, you're in a good position to have informed conversations with your dental professional. We wish you the best of luck with your procedure and assure you that you can enjoy replacement teeth that look and function exactly like the real thing by practicing good oral hygiene and regularly seeing your dental professional. With proper care, your replacements can even last a lifetime. Now that is something to smile about.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.