Having an artificial object in the mouth at all times, such as a dental implant, is disconcerting to many people. However, an understanding of such dental prostheses can help ease some of the fear. Below is a brief overview of the major parts of a dental implant.
The dental implant fixture acts as the root for your new artificial tooth. The dentist drills a hole into your jawbone and inserts the fixture such that it sits below your gum line. Over time, the fixture fuses with the jawbone so much that it becomes, for all intents and purposes, part of your body. The fusion process is known as osseointegration, and it is crucial to your implant's healing success.
The implant fixture can be made from three major categories of materials:
- Metal such as titanium, stainless steel, and gold alloy
- Ceramics such as zirconia, bioglass, and carbon
- Polymers, such as polyurethane, polyethylene, and polysulfone
However, the use of titanium is more common than other materials. The right material should be strong, durable, nonreactive, and relatively inexpensive.
The abutment sits between and connects the fixture (implant root) and the false tooth. The abutment is necessary because the fixture itself sits below the gum line. The abutment can be an integrated part of the fixture or it can be a separate appliance.
Just like the fixture, the abutment can also be metal, ceramic, or polymer materials. The strength, weight, durability, and inertness of the material are some of the things that matter. In some cases, the abutment is fixed on the same day as the fixture. In other cases, the fixture is left to heal before the abutment is placed.
The prosthesis, the topmost part of the dental implant, is the actual false tooth that replaces your missing tooth. The prosthesis is designed to look, in shape, size, and color, just like your natural tooth. The prosthesis is attached to the abutment either via a screw or dental cement or snapped into place.
The prosthetic can be a dental crown, bridge, or denture. Strength, durability, and aesthetics of the implant prosthetic are some of the major factors that determine the best material to use. Porcelain is the common material for prosthesis, but metal allows can also serve a similar function.
Ask your dentist anything you want to know about your dental implant during the initial consultation. That way, you will be better prepared for the treatment and care of the implant.
For more information on dental implants, reach out to a dentist.