Dental Implants- A Three-Step Procedure
One of the most common questions we hear from patients when it comes to dental implants is “Why does it take three separate procedures?”
It helps to understand that within the entire dental implant process, there are not just three stages; there are also three important parts to the final product that replaces your tooth. First, there is the implant itself, which is the metal post (usually titanium) that is surgically placed into the bone by an oral surgeon. Next, there is the abutment, which connects the implant to the artificial tooth (crown). And lastly, the crown (or prosthetic tooth) itself is attached to the abutment.
The fact that the process has three physical components alone doesn’t tell the whole story though. Here, we explain why the most commonly employed dental implant method is split up into three separate procedures.
Step One: Placing the Implant
The first stage of the dental implant process is to position the implant in the jaw bone via a surgical procedure. The dental implant replaces the tooth root, and requires healing time. During this healing time, osseointegration (the integration of the bone with the implant itself) occurs. The bone cells actually attach to the implant post, filling in the spaces to secure the implant in place for permanent residency. The healing time usually takes from 3-6 months.
Step Two: Placing the Abutment
The abutment is a custom made post that connects the implant to the prosthetic tooth. Essentially, the abutment is a bridge that spans through the gum line so that the implant itself remains in the bone supporting the replacement tooth. As with the implant, the abutment has a healing period of its own. A temporary crown may be placed during the healing period. The gum around the abutment must heal and form a cuff or collar around it before the final crown can be placed.
Step Three: The Prosthetic Tooth
Once the implant site and abutment have successfully integrated and healed, impressions of the site are made. The prosthetic tooth is fabricated and installed by our office.
If you have any questions about the dental implant process, give us a call!