Monday, March 10, 2014

What is an implant?

"How does an implant work?" I get asked this a lot when discussing treatment options with my patients. Simply put, an implant is a titanium screw that is placed into your jaw to replace a broken or missing tooth. Implants have become a routine and predictable service that dentists can offer their patients.  Before implants were used, the other options to replace a missing or broken tooth were to make a bridge (a non-removable option that was made by placing crowns on the teeth on either side of the missing/broken tooth), make a partial denture to replace that one missing tooth, or do nothing.
Used with permission from BIOMET 3I

In the image to the right you can see how an implant mirrors a tooth.  The left part of the picture shows a natural tooth, with the white outer layer enamel, and the darker underlying dentin.  This picture also looks like how a dentist would shave a tooth down to make a crown for a tooth; by removing the enamel, and leaving a plateau of dentin in the middle to allow for the crown to fit over it.

Now, when an implant is placed, it replaces the root of the tooth only.  In order to replace the rest of the tooth (the crown), the dentist and the lab need to fabricate a restoration that replicates the natural tooth.

The dental implant crown, as shown in the picture, can be either be one piece (a screw-retained implant crown) or two pieces (a cement-retained implant crown).  The dentist and the lab will work together to determine what is the best way to restore the tooth based on each specific situation.  No matter which option is selected, the restoration will fit snugly with the implant, and it will at some point be held together with a screw that connects the restoration to the implant.

If the restoration is one piece, the crown sits directly on top of the implant, and is held in place by a screw that tightens the crown to the implant; a screw-retained implant crown.  No cement is used to hold the crown in place like it would if it was being placed on a tooth.  A hole is made through the middle of the crown when it is being made by the lab to allow the dentist to tighten the crown to the implant with the screw. Once the crown is fully seated and tightened, the dentist will place a bonded filling to cover the hole.

If the restoration is two pieces, the abutment replicates the plateau of dentin that remains on your tooth when you have a crown; and the crown sits on top of the abutment.  The implant screw is used to tighten the abutment to the implant, and the crown is cemented onto the abutment just like a crown is cemented onto a tooth; a cement-retained implant crown.

Implants are a great option for many patients. It allows me to offer an opportunity to replace a missing or broken tooth that minimizes affecting other teeth that can become compromised by placing a bridge, and it doesn't have to be removed nightly like a partial denture.  Besides replacing missing teeth, implants can be used to help stabilize dentures; but that's a topic for another day.

If you think you need an implant, and you want to find out more, please contact our office to set up an appointment for a consultation at your earliest convenience. 973-543-6666 or

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this write up. It's been awhile that i have been thinking to implants. I searched for dental implants India to get the best treatment. I am really concerned about my teeth and want to go through and know as much before taking the big decision.