Placing a stabilization screw into jawbone has the effect of preserving the bone around it. Without it, the bone slowly disappears over the years, both in height and in width. Having a way to fasten an abutment to that screw on which a crown can be placed is genius. Together it is known in dentistry generally as an implant. Even though they have been around for decades, they are still the new kid on the block when it comes to replacing missing teeth and many insurance companies use that as an excuse not to pay for them.
Stabilization screws get placed into the bone where tooth roots once were. After a period of months, the bone has osseointegrated to the screw, in essence fusing to it and is now acting as an artificial root. This is now the foundation for a variety of restorative options including a single crown, bridges, removable partials and dentures or complete fixed reconstruction.
Not everyone is a candidate for a dental implant, however. For a successful implant to take hold, a candidate must have proper bone density and adequate bone height and width and have a strong immune system. If you want them to last, you will also need good oral hygiene.
Implants can take months to complete from start to finish. If the tooth was recently extracted and was abscessed, it will need to heal 3-4 months prior to placing the implant. Any residual infection can lead to the implant failing to osseointegrate. If the tooth had been extracted years ago, there may not before enough bone to place the implant. If not, a bone graft may need to be done. Sometimes grafting can be done at the same time as the implant is placed, sometimes it needs to be done first. If first, again it will need to heal before placing the implant. Once the implant is placed, 2-3 months is needed to osseointegrate. Once integrated, a small incision is placed in the gingiva (gums) and a healing abutment is placed on the implant and comes up just above the gingiva allowing the gums to heal around it. The tissue side of it is the same shape as the crown abutment will be. Once healed in a couple of weeks it is time for the final step of getting an impression and the final pieces fabricated or ordered, depending on what is being done. Again that could be a single crown, or if a couple of implants were placed, a bridge may be made. A precision attachment which acts much like a snap can be placed allowing partials or dentures to snap into place. A custom made bar can be made to connect 4 implants together on which a denture can be fastened quite securely and be supported by it and not your gums.
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