Dental Implant Components: Understanding the Building Blocks of a Lasting Smile

Dental Implant Components

The field of dental restoration has been drastically transformed due to the introduction of dental implant treatments that rely on materials that are compatible with the sensitive biology of humans and the powers of osseointegration, a remarkable process of the body discovered in the late 20th century, that allows for a structural one-on-one connection of the bone and prosthesis.

This blog will briefly discuss the components that make up dental implants. Each element has its critical role in the process, and the success of the implant in the future depends significantly on the interplay between its functions. Let’s dive into the details of these structural pieces.

A Brief Overview of Dental Implants

Dental implants are built to replace natural tooth roots that have been lost due to age or physical trauma with a powerful artificial prosthesis that will function and look almost exactly like the tooth that has been lost or compromised. 

This process is possible due to the use of biocompatible metals in the implants, which ensures that the body does not react adversely to the foreign element and welcomes it. The body then bonds with the artificial implant through a recently discovered phenomenon known as osseointegration, the biological process where the body forms a strong, structural connection with the implant on a cellular level. 

These implants are placed inside the mouth during a minor procedure that is performed by a surgeon under local anesthesia or sedation. Once inserted, the implant undergoes a healing period during which the bone grows around and bonds with the implant surface, creating a secure anchor for the artificial teeth.

Another great characteristic of dental implants that deserves mention is their high level of versatility. They can be used to replace an individual tooth, multiple adjacent teeth, or even a full set of implant dentures. 

Dental Implant Components

The main structural dental implant components, the interplay of which gives the whole implant its strength and stability, are the implant itself (the post), the abutment, and the crown. In this section, we will dive a little deeper into a description of each, as well as the materials that are used:

Implant Fixture (screw)

The implant fixture, or implant post, is the dental implant component that acts as the foundational root of the structure and will mimic the function of an actual tooth root. These are surgically placed inside the jawbone using special drills made for this purpose and are usually made of biocompatible titanium or titanium alloy that is renowned for its strength and the ability to osseointegrate with bone tissue, which other metals cannot, as the body does not welcome them. 

This implant fixture is shaped like a small screw or cylinder and has threaded surfaces that are there to enhance stability and promote the processes of osseointegration that will occur in the following months. Technicians may even treat or coat the surface of the implant to further improve its integration with the bone. These can have different manufacturers and brands, which means they might have a high variance in terms of cost. 

Abutment

This dental implant component acts as the connecting interface between the implant fixture and the dental prosthetic (crown, bridge, or denture). Its main function is to provide a secure level of support and solidify the crown or bridge securely in their respective places and is attached to the implant fixture via a screw or cement as it juts out a little above the gumline to support our prosthetic. 

The abutment is placed right on top of the implant fixture after the healing process of osseointegration is complete (several weeks to a couple of months) and can be straight or angled to make room for different kinds of prosthetic requirements. These are commonly made from titanium, stainless steel, or zirconia, all elements famed for their strength and biocompatibility; these are also available at a variety of costs that your dentist will fill you in about.

Crown (prosthetic tooth)

These, unlike the abutment and implant fixture, are often made from porcelain, ceramic, or a composite resin that mimics the appearance of natural teeth (metal alloys or gold can also be used in some cases, although rare). A team of technicians will collaborate to make a custom crown for each individual case, their goal being to match the hues, contours, and size of the patient’s natural teeth for a strikingly similar appearance. 

It is crafted in a dental laboratory and is built using detailed impressions and scans taken of the patient’s mouth using advanced technology like X-ray and CBCT scans. 

Healing Cap (Healing Abutment)

The healing cap functions similarly to the abutment, as discussed before, except that it is only a temporary version that is placed over the implant fixture during the healing process, and it helps give shape to the gum tissue around the implant site. The temporary healing abutment protects the implant site and shapes the surrounding gum tissue by preventing debris like food particles and plaque from entering the implant site. It is installed immediately after the implant fixture is placed. It is only removed when the final abutment and crown are ready to be attached.

Temporary Prosthesis

The temporary artificial tooth functions as an interim dental implant component that is placed while the implant heals and integrates with the jawbone. It’s designed to be easily removable until it is time to have the final, permanent implant installed. It is made from composite or resin materials and does not have the same biting forces that the final ones will have, and the patient will still have to follow a restricted diet.

Screws and Attachments

These are small screws that will be used to hold the abutment firmly to the implant fixture and the crown to the abutment and deserve to be mentioned due to their significance in the overall structure of the implant. They are designed to provide a tight fit and prevent unnecessary movement that can sabotage the interplay of all components. Placed inside pre-designed holes inside the abutment, crown, and implant, these can help distribute the loads of chewing and biting in an efficient manner.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for more information about dental implants and their components or want an individualized assessment of your unique case from industry-leading professionals who are highly experienced in the placement of dental implants, feel free to contact us at Kelowna Implant Clinic, a premier clinic located in Kelowna, BC.

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