Dental implants offer a permanent solution to restoring one or more missing teeth, helping those who suffer from tooth loss enjoy the comfort and confidence of a healthy smile. Patients often have many questions about dental implants, ranging from the treatment process to how dental implants work. Let's explore these questions by taking a closer look at the anatomy of a dental implant in this blog post. For answers to your specific questions, contact Fort Worth, TX dentists Clark Damon and Kari Blankenship to schedule a consultation.
About the Anatomy of a Dental Implant
Although the whole restoration is often referred to as a dental implant, dental implant restorations are actually made of three components: the dental implant itself, an abutment, and a restoration. Each component plays an important role in restoring the smile.
The Dental Implant
The dental implant itself looks nothing like a tooth and is actually a small, screw-like metal rod. Dental implants are surgically placed within the jawbone where they take on the role of an artificial tooth root. A permanent bond forms between the jawbone and the dental implant, much like the bond between the natural tooth root and jawbone. This bond takes place through a process called “osseointegration” and can take several months to complete. Once the jawbone bonds to the dental implant, the abutment may be attached.
The abutment is the second component of a dental implant restoration. The abutment is a small metal attachment that is screwed onto the top of the dental implant. The abutment attaches the dental restoration to the dental implant. In some cases, the abutment is placed at the same time as the dental implant but more commonly it is placed after the jaw has healed around the implant. When the abutment is placed after the initial dental implant surgery, a small incision will be made to access the implant and attach the abutment. Once the gums heal, the next and final step, attaching the restoration, may be done.
The final component of a dental implant's anatomy is the dental restoration, which are essentially artificial teeth. There are different types of dental restorations that may be paired with dental implants. The type used will depend on the number of teeth missing along with the unique needs of each patient. These include:
- Dental crowns: Dental crowns are individual prosthetic teeth. Those who are only missing one tooth often benefit from pairing their dental implant with dental crown restorations.
- Implant-supported bridges: Implant-supported bridges are similar to traditional bridges consisting of a span of artificial teeth. Rather than attaching to the natural teeth, the bridge is attached to dental implants, effectively replacing multiple teeth with a minimal number of dental implants.
- Implant-supported dentures: Implant-supported dentures anchor within the mouth to four or more dental implants. Those who are current denture wearers or require dentures may benefit from implant-supported dentures.
Is Dental Implant Treatment Right for You?
Because dental implant treatment requires surgery, not everyone who suffers from tooth loss is a suitable candidate. To find out if you're a candidate, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Damon or Dr. Blankenship today.