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What Is a Dental Abutment?

A dental abutment is usually custom-made to fit a patient's mouth.
A person getting a dental abutment.
An illustration of a dental implant with a titanium abutment.
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  • Written By: Dee S.
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 December 2014
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There are three parts that make up a dental implant: the crown or cap, the dental abutment, and the implant. A dental implant, and consequently, a dental abutment, can be a way to permanently replace a missing tooth, a few teeth, or even all the teeth. Although pricey, dental implants and abutments can last a lifetime. People who receive an implant and abutment can eat whatever they would like and experience few problems, similar to natural teeth.

The dental abutment is also called an implant abutment or a prosthetic abutment. By definition, it is a metal piece that connects to the implant via an abutment screw. So, the abutment is the piece that connects the implant to the final outer crown. Usually, it is made to custom-fit a person’s mouth in a dental laboratory using highly technical computerized technology or a dental technologist’s skills; however, in some cases, they are pre-made.

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There are several different kinds of materials that can make up a dental abutment. For example, ceramic, gold, titanium, or a high noble metal are all good materials for the abutment. A frank discussion between the patient and the dentist or dental surgeon will usually be the deciding factor in the type of abutment; however, there are advantages and disadvantages for each material. Titanium abutments respond well to the gum tissue when it comes to implant attachment, but gold is best for porcelain crowns because it lends to a more natural tooth coloring. Ceramic abutments are popular because they resist fracturing, look good, and allow light to flow through the crown, giving it the most natural coloring.

To install the dental implant and the dental abutment, there are several steps that must be taken. First, the patient must meet the dentist for an examination and a discussion of the process. Next, the implant must be installed. The implant is a screw that is placed directly into the jaw. The jawbone then bonds to the implant over a few months, making a firm place for the crown to attach. Sometimes, a temporary cap can be placed over the implant while the healing period is taking place.

Next, the dental abutment is attached to the implant. This creates the final step of the foundation where the crown will attach. After the abutment is placed on the implant, the gums are given a few weeks to heal. Lastly, the crown is placed on the dental abutment, and the patient has a brand new smile.

As a side note, there are some dental implant procedures that do not require a dental abutment. For those procedures, the abutment is pre-fabricated onto the implant. It makes the entire process shorter and decreases the pain associated with preparing the gum for the abutment piece, because it is already attached to the implant.

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