What is a dental implant abutment?
When you have dental implants fitted, the piece that connects the implant to the crown is called an abutment. It is a connector, placed between the part of the implant that sits in the jawbone and the crown, which looks like your other teeth.
What are abutments made of?
Abutments are made of different materials. The most common are titanium, but they can also be made of gold or zirconia. This is because zirconia is a white ceramic, which complements the colour of the crown and surrounding teeth.
What is a healing abutment?
A healing abutment (sometimes called a healing cuff) helps the gum tissue around the implant heal. It is fitted over the top of a dental implant when they are first fitted and is usually slightly wider to allow the gum line to be shaped in preparation for the final crown fitting.
When and how is an abutment fitted?
When an implant is placed into the bone, there are two possible ways for it to remain while healing (osseointegration). It can either be covered with gum tissue and left to heal, submerged for around three to six months, after which the gums are opened to expose it, using a scalpel or laser.
The other option is to use a healing abutment. This is screwed onto the implant at the time of surgery, sticks up above the surface of the gum and stays in place while the implant heals. The healing abutment prevents the gums from closing over the implant, eliminating the need for a second surgery.
Once the implant is fully integrated, the healing abutment can be removed to access the implant and add a dental crown. Sometimes, however, the healing abutment can cause the gums to heal in a shape that doesn’t ideally match a tooth, so they may need to be recontoured.
Why use a healing abutment?
Because an abutment sits above the gum line, while an implant sits below, some people prefer to have a second surgery to avoid having the abutment poking out of their gum while they wait for the dental implant to fuse with the jaw. Your dental implant surgeon can provide you with information and guidance over which method is best for you.
Healing abutments remove the need for a second surgery, during which the gum requires reopening to reveal the implant below and connect the abutment. The healing abutment can simply be removed once the gums have healed around it, then the connecting abutment can be fitted to later attach the crown.
How is a crown connected to an abutment?
A dental crown is shaped like a tooth and made to look like the others around it so that it is not obviously false. It is fitted to the dental implant with an abutment. A special type of dental cement is used to keep the crown attached to the abutment.
Will the procedures hurt?
An anaesthetic is used in the fitting of dental implants which is very effective at numbing the area being worked on during treatment. There may be some minor discomfort during assessment or cleaning of the area, but any pain can be easily managed with standard painkillers.