Dental Implants: How They Work & What They Are Made Of

If you’re considering dental implants, there are a lot of options available. You should know that some dental implants are better than others. Here are a few things you should know.

What are dental implants?

Dental implants take the place of missing teeth. These replacements are comprised of three parts:

  • Crown: The tooth-like part of the implant, usually made of ceramic material, designed to look like a natural tooth.
  • Connector: Sometimes called an “abutment,” the connector is used to secure the tooth-like crown of the implant to its base, and is often hexagonal or octagonal in shape.
  • Base: A titanium screw that fuses with natural bone to provide a safe, stable base.
Structure of a dental implant

What does the implant process involve?

The dental implant process requires oral surgery, and is usually performed while the patient is sedated.

During surgery, the dentist will drill a small hole in the jawbone and carefully screw the base into the bone. The gum is then placed over the implant so that it can heal.

After the base of the implant has healed enough, a second surgery is needed to fit the connector into the top of the implant. Finally, the crown is placed on top of the connector. This crown is attached to the connector with a special dental cement and a small screw.

What is the difference between implant materials?

There are major differences between implant materials, and while you don’t need to research the make, model, and material of dental implants (as you would when purchasing a car), you should have full confidence in your periodontist. At minimum, ensure that they are board-certified and are well-versed in the implant material options available.

At the time of publication for this article, there are more than 60 FDA-approved manufacturers of dental implant materials, including implant bases, connectors, and crowns. These dental implant systems vary in sophistication, quality, and reliability.

If you’re considering getting dental implants, be sure your periodontist works with manufacturers that have great track records, and that they have invested the time and research into the products they use to deliver the highest quality care possible.

About the Author

Philip L. Fava, II, DMD, MDSc
Center for Dental Implants and Periodontics, Philadelphia, PA

The information on this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Tooth Wisdom® and Oral Health America do not recommend or endorse any specific dentists, products, procedures, opinions, or other information mentioned. See full Terms & Conditions.

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