If you have missing teeth dental implants might be recommended by your dentist. Many people have heard of dental bridges, crowns, and implants. However, many people have not heard of dental abutments, which are key in any kind of implant procedure. Dental implants themselves are actually artificially constructions that function as artificial tooth “roots”. A dental implant can fuse with a jawbone making a secure foundation for a prosthetic tooth. The pieces used for connecting the implant and the artificial tooth, are often made from zirconia or titanium and are called abutments. Normally both an abutment and a prosthesis are necessary parts of a restoration treatment for a missing tooth.
To fit a dental implant into a person’s jaw bone, a dentist has two choices. Sometimes gum tissue needs to be used to cover an abutment, which can take up to six months of healing. After the gums heal the dentist can then open the gums again in order to expose an abutment so that the crown can be fit. The other choice is the use of a healing abutment. Healing abutments (also known as cuffs) are often preferable for patients because further surgery is not needed when these are used.
Abutments used for the purpose of restoring gum tissue are called healing abutments. Also referred to as healing cuffs, these healing abutment fit over an implant, and because of their bigger width more space is allowed for a crown. Dentists typically use healing cuffs just following an implant surgery to cover up the center of an implant (which is hollow) so that the gums restore in the healthiest way possible. With the support of these healing cuffs the gum tissues can heal effectively around the site of the implant. In some cases, a dentist will even use a customized healing abutment to address a specific oral anatomy or circumstance.
These healing abutments vary in shape and size and there are many things that can affect what kind of abutment is used. Titanium is considered an optimal material for abutments because it blends well and naturally with other implants and/or teeth.
After gums have fully healed the final abutment placement is made, which allows for the implant and prosthesis to join.
Reasons Why Healing Abutments Are Often Preferred
Abutments are placed above the gums and implants are placed below. Some people choose not to use healing abutments because they don’t want to have an abutment protruding from the gum during the time that it takes for the implant and jaw to bond. This protrusion can be uncomfortable for some people. However, there is no need for additional surgery with the use of the healing abutment. If a healing cuff is NOT used the dentist will have to open the gums again after the implant and jawbone have fused in order to properly attach the crown. Whereas if a healing abutment is used, the only thing that will need to be done after the healing process is to make sure the fit is feeling natural.