Dental Abutment Definition

In dentistry abutment refers to a connective element or piece; usually a connective structure that will securely hold a crown to an implanted post. We see abutment referred to in various contexts in dentistry. Abutments are often a part of fixed bridges (for example abutment teeth are the teeth used to support a bridge), and are an integral part of partially removable dentures. And abutments are a key element of dental implants since they do the work of connecting the implant fixture to the crown. There are also abutments called healing abutments.

Abutments can be made from a variety of materials including zirconia, polyether ether ketone, stainless steel, titanium and gold. A dentist will consider a material’s hygienic properties and a material’s inherent strength and asses in what dental environment the abutment will function to select the proper material of an abutment. Abutments function as a connective pieces, but they can also help in the healthy shaping of the gums in response to a dental restoration. Ideally they also help to shape and heal the gums in an aesthetically pleasing fashion.

In many cases a dentists use what’s known as a healing abutment - or cuff - after surgery so that the center of the dental implant can be covered for proper healing. This kind of abutment doesn’t actually attach to the dental implant but functions to promote optimal healing.

In some cases a custom-made abutment that is specifically constructed for the anatomy of a patient is used. This can be important for areas of the mouth that are visible when a person smiles, to make sure that the crown looks like it’s naturally and seamlessly connected to the gums.

In the context of dental bridges an abutment is made for proper connections and alignments. With partial dentures, abutments are also essential, again acting as key connective elements. For fixed dentures and crowns the abutments are screw retained or used with a cemented fixation process.

Prosthetic implant abutments, also known as implant abutments are the actual pieces that are used to connect an implant and the prosthesis. While gold, titanium, and surgical stainless steel are the most common materials used in abutment construction, sometimes ceramic abutments are used, too, and can be particularly effective when used to enhance and support ceramic crowns, to allow for a natural and realistic appearance. It is important that ceramic abutments are used with care though, because they don’t inherently have the sort of compressive strength of metals such as titanium and gold. Most technicians prefer to use metal prosthetic abutments because of their inherent compressive strength.

Typically abutments are custom constructed in dental laboratories. A dental implant abutment structure often resembles a real tooth which has been shortened because that is the optimal shape for attachment of a crown. Placing abutments is considered to be a minor procedure, with only a need for local anesthetic. The dentist attaches an abutment to an implanted post near the gemlike. Once the gums have healed a crown can be safely connected to the abutment.

Dental Implant Parts