An implant abutment is an important part of a dental implant, the final product of a three-part process by which a prosthetic tooth is created. As a tooth replacement solution, dental implants have long been celebrated for their unrivaled strength, durability, and attractive appearance, as well as for the high degree of comfort they offer in comparison to bridges and dentures. While the implant abutment itself is a modest connecting piece in the three-piece structure that makes up the dental implant, it is an important one nonetheless, even as it remains invisible once the finishing touches are put on the new prosthesis.
What is an implant abutment?
An implant abutment is the piece that connects the implant fixture – the small post embedded into the jawbone beneath the gumline – to the implant crown or prosthetic tooth. While the implant fixture serves as the man-made roots of the replacement tooth and the implant crown is the face of the prosthesis itself, the abutment is what connects the two parts above the gumline, providing a stable support for the new tooth that connects to the deep structural support provided by the implant fixture.
What are implant abutments made of?
Implant abutments are generally made of either titanium or zirconium but can also be cast from gold or other metals and alloys. They can be either prefabricated or custom-made, with custom-made abutments offering the most aesthetically pleasing results. The decision to use a prefabricated or custom-made abutment should be made in close consultation with your dentist, who will be able to most adequately advise you on the benefits and drawbacks of each. Generally speaking, the main drawback of a custom-made abutment is the cost, but many find that the natural looking results that a custom-made abutment provides along the gumline is worth the cost, particularly when the dental implant is located in a visible part of the mouth.
Because the prosthetic crown of a dental implant can be either permanent or removable, it is also important when choosing a dental abutment to weight these two options. Permanent implant crowns are glued to the abutment with dental cement, thereby making them a permanent fixture in the mouth. If repairs need to be made in the future, they will have to be done in place. The crowns of dental implants can be made to be removable, however, if this is desired. In this case, the implant crown can be attached to the abutment via lag screws or a built-in snap mechanism so that the implant can either be removed for future repairs or simply replaced.
Additionally, while implants are often created to support single replacement teeth, they can also be very effectively used to support retain special implant-supported dentures. Instead of the traditional floating dentures, these actually fit on to implant abutments connected to fixtures below the gumline, providing an excellent alternative for those who are not satisfied with traditional denture options.
For more information on how dental abutments work with the specific type of tooth replacement you are interested in, contact your dentist’s office to set up a consultation. She or he will be able to provide you with more information to guide your decisions and, just as importantly, offer help and support along the way.