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Show Your Teeth Some Respect

Think about how many times per day you rely on your teeth. You use them to chew breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. You press your tongue against them to make certain sounds when you speak. There's really no doubt about it — your teeth are important, and they deserve your respect. You can pay them that respect by visiting your dentist for regular cleaning and checkup appointments. You should also call at the first sign of dental pain, tooth discoloration, or other oral health changes. Read more about dentists and dentistry here on this blog, where we dive deep into related topics.

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Show Your Teeth Some Respect

Getting A Dental Implant? Why You Need Healing Abutments

by April Myers

Some people think that dental implants require only one surgery, but there are often a series of appointments for implant placement. For example, you may need to have teeth extracted, or you may need to undergo bone grafting if you don't have enough jaw support for the implant. Your dentist may need to take impressions and find the right shade of the implant crown so that it matches your natural teeth.

With all these steps, one appointment you should be aware of is the placement of a healing abutment. Read on to learn what the healing abutment is and why it's necessary before your dentist places your final crown.

What Is a Healing Abutment?

Your implant is made of three basic components:

  1. The post or fixture, which is embedded in your jawline and simulates the missing tooth root

  2. The abutment, which is the connector between the post and the prosthetic or false tooth

  3. The crown, which is a false tooth that is screwed into or cemented on the abutment

After your dentist places the post, then your gum and bone tissues need to heal around it. This healing phase can take months as the implant integrates with the jawbone. As you can imagine, you wouldn't want this post to be exposed to food debris or plaque; that's where a healing abutment comes in.

A healing abutment — sometimes called a gingival former or a healing cap — is a metal cover that your dentist can screw on to the post. This cap keeps the site free from infection. The healing abutment is also slightly wider than the implant to shape the gumline and prepare it for crown placement.

What Is the Procedure Like for Healing Abutment Placement?

The abutment can be placed in either a one-stage procedure or a two-stage procedure.

During one-stage procedures, your dentist will place both the post and healing abutment at the same time. Once your bone fully heals, then your dentist can remove the healing abutment and replace it with a final abutment and crown.

During a two-stage procedure, your dentist will insert the implant post and then stitch up the site so that the post is completely covered by gum tissue. After the post fuses with the jaw bone, your dentist will have you come in for a second procedure where they will make an incision to expose the top of the implant post. Your dentist will then attach the healing abutment to the post so that the gum tissue conforms to the final abutment and crown's size.

One procedure isn't better than another; which procedure you get can depend on a number of things — your dentist's standard of care, your personal preferences, your overall health, etc. For example, if you have good bone density for post stability, then your dentist may opt for one-stage placement. If your dentist wants your post to have a longer healing time, then they may opt for a two-stage procedure and place a healing abutment later.

To learn more about dental implant services, reach out to a local dental provider like Patrick T. Hunter D.D.S. for more details.

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