Dental Implants 101

Dr. Michael McDill, Fort Collins

Dental implants can transform lives, giving you the ability to eat whatever you want and the confidence to smile again. There are few things as rewarding as restoring a smile with lifelike implants, but it’s not a procedure patients should casually enter.

When we discuss case planning, we always make sure you understand every step of the procedure, your options and any alternatives. Questions are always welcome!

After answering questions for hundreds of implant cases, we realized a lot of patients don’t understand dental implants’ basic components. In order to prepare you to discuss your restored smile, the dentists at Alpine Dental Health put together a cheat-sheet for prospective implant patients.

  • Implant: The implant itself is a piece of surgical titanium secured into bone under the missing teeth. After it’s placed on your first implant visit, bone grows around it (in a process known as osseointegration) helping it attach with your natural oral structures. This is important so it develops the strength necessary to withstand chewing and biting.
  • Healing Cap: Bone grows slowly, so your dentist will use a healing cap and temporary crown to protect the implant as you heal. The healing cap seals the exposed portions of the implant off, protecting it from food and bacteria and keeping it pristine.
  • Abutment: Once your bone successfully grows around the implant, an implant abutment is screwed into the implant’s central shaft. It’s also made of titanium, and may be custom milled to fit your mouth’s needs.
  • Crown: A crown on an abutment is a lot like a crown on a natural tooth. It’s a lifelike recreation of a tooth, custom shaded to match the teeth that surround it. Usually made from zirconia or another ceramic, it’s cemented to your abutment, or in some cases, built into the abutment itself and screwed into the implant upon placement.

When your crown is placed, it completely envelops the abutment, and sits cleanly below your gum line. It will look and function just like a natural tooth! You’ll be able to bite and chew much better than with dentures or a partial, and will be indistinguishable from your teeth.

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