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Anatomy of a Dental Implant

By Joe McIntyre, DDS on June 10, 2016

An illustration of a dental implant, abutment, and crown restorationIf you suffer from one or more missing teeth, dental implant treatment may be right for you. Dental implants offer a permanent, natural feeling solution to replacing missing teeth and improving dental function. Dental implants have three basic components, including the implant itself, an abutment, and the restoration. When considering dental implant surgery, it's beneficial to understand how these components work together to restore dental function. Learn about the anatomy of a dental implant in this overview from Harrisonburg, VA dentists Joe McIntyre and Dan Whiting.

The Dental Implant

The dental implant itself is not a replacement tooth. Rather, a dental implant is more like an artificial tooth root to which a restoration is later attached. Dental implants are small, screw-like, titanium posts surgically placed through the gums and into the jawbone.

Depending on the patient's needs, one or more implants may be placed. Regardless of the number of implants, patients must wait several months for a process called “osseointegration” to complete before the final restoration can be placed. Osseointegration is the process in which the jawbone heals around the implant, creating a strong bond similar to that which naturally exists between the jawbone and tooth roots. Once osseointegration is complete, the next part of the treatment can begin.

The Abutment

After the implant site has healed sufficiently, the abutment piece may be placed. Simply put, the abutment is the attachment that connects the restoration to the dental implant. In some cases, the abutment is placed at the same time as the dental implant. If the abutment is placed at this point, the patient will still need to wait several months for the jaw to heal before the final restoration can be placed.

The Restoration

Different types of restorations can be paired with dental implants to replace one or multiple missing teeth. The type of restoration used will depend on the needs of the patient, specifically how many teeth require replacement. Once the bone has fully healed around the implant and the abutment has been placed, one of three types of restorations can be attached to restore dental function and appearance. The different types of restorations include:

  • Dental crowns: Dental crowns can be paired with dental implants to replace individual teeth, making them a good option for those missing one or two teeth.
  • Implant-supported bridges: Those who are missing multiple teeth but not enough for a full set of dentures, may benefit from an implant-supported bridge. Implant-supported bridges work like traditional bridges but instead of attaching to the surrounding teeth, they attach to dental implants.
  • Implant-supported dentures: Current denture wearers or those who require dentures can enjoy a secure, comfortable fit with implant-supported dentures. Implant-supported dentures anchor within the mouth using three to five dental implants, allowing denture wearers to enjoy their favorite foods without their dentures slipping or sliding.

Is Dental Implant Treatment Right for You?

For more information about dental implants and to find out if this treatment is right for you, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. McIntyre or Dr. Whiting today.

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