Are you wondering if a dental implant crown is right for you? A dental implant provides a realistic replacement for a tooth that has been removed, and a crown is affixed to the implant as a final step in the procedure. Dental implants are not right for every patient and situation, but in some cases they are an excellent option. Here is what you need to know about implants and crowns:
How is an Implant Crown Different from a Regular Crown?
The crown itself is the same, but in typical dental treatments, it’s attached to the natural tooth following a procedure to prepare it. An implant crown is attached to a part of the implant called an abutment, which extends out of the jawbone to connect with the crown, while a typical crown simply covers an existing tooth.
Why Would You Need a Dental Implant Crown?
A dental implant is one type of solution for a missing tooth. Sometimes tooth extraction is necessary if the tooth can’t be saved with a root canal or other restorations, but this leaves a gap or hole between teeth. Aside from the cosmetic issues, this can sometimes complicate chewing or cause issues with your bite. Some patients find that food gets caught in the gap or that it’s harder to chew in that area, and people with missing front teeth may find that this affects their speech.
In some cases, we’re able to solve this problem with a bridge, which is a false tooth cemented between two crowned teeth. However, bridges don’t work well for every patient. Some people notice that the bridge moves or slips when they’re chewing. Problems with the anchor teeth on either side of the gap can also prohibit placing a bridge.
A dental implant may provide a good solution when a bridge isn’t the best option. In this procedure, which takes several steps over multiple months, we will insert a titanium rod into the jawbone where the tooth used to be. The bone slowly heals around the rod, which fuses with the bone over the course of several months. Once this osseointegration is complete, we will add a small piece called an abutment to the rod. The abutment extends out of the jawbone, and the gums will be stitched closed around it, leaving the abutment exposed.
If your jawbone is too weak or brittle to support the rod, we may consider a bone graft, in which we either take healthy bone from another part of your body or use a bone substitute, and graft it onto the existing bone. This step adds several more months to the time the implant process will take, as the graft also needs to integrate with existing bone.
After the abutment addition, we’ll schedule you to come back in a few weeks to make impressions of your mouth, which we’ll pass on to a dental lab that makes crowns. They’ll use these specifications to create a realistic-looking crown that blends in with your other teeth. This process also takes a few weeks.
There are two types of crowns you can choose from:
- Removable. This crown can be attached to the abutment but removed for cleaning. The benefit of a removable crown is that if it’s damaged, you can simply take the tooth out to have it repaired.
- Fixed. This crown is cemented onto the abutment and is not removable. For this reason, it may feel more like a natural tooth, and you won’t have to worry about taking it out to clean it.
Once the crown is ready, you’ll come back to the office for the placement. The crown will be attached to the abutment and glued on if it’s a fixed crown. If there are any difficulties with your bite, we can adjust the crown for you. Some people need to take a few days to get used to chewing on the crown before they can identify any bite issues, so let us know if you have any difficulties with it.
Is Dental Implant Surgery Painful?
You should not feel any pain during the procedures. For rod and abutment placements, we offer several types of sedation in addition to local anesthetics. Your gums will likely be sore and swollen afterward, and we may prescribe pain medication and antibiotics. We recommend eating soft foods and getting plenty of rest for several days after these oral surgeries.
The crown placement itself should not be painful, although a few people may experience mild discomfort as their gums get used to the new crown.
Who Should Get a Dental Implant and Crown?
Dental implant surgery is not right for everyone. It’s a lengthy procedure that can put a lot of strain on your jawbone, so it isn’t right for some people with bone or jaw problems or certain other health issues. If you’re considering an implant, we’ll ask you a series of questions and perform an exam to determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure. In general, dental implant surgery might be a good option in the following situations:
- When you have at least one missing tooth and find that a bridge isn’t a good option
- If your jawbone has completely finished growing (this procedure is not for kids or younger teens)
- When you have enough bone to support fusion with the rod or are a good candidate for a bone graft
- If you generally have good oral health
- If you don’t have any health problems that interfere with new bone growth
- When you can’t or don’t want to use dentures
- If you have speech difficulties caused by a tooth gap
- When you are willing and able to spend several months on the process
- If you don’t smoke or use tobacco products, which can raise the risk of complications, pain, and swelling with oral surgery
What About a Temporary Implant Crown?
As you’ve probably noticed after reading about the process, a lot of time passes during different stages of the procedure. For this reason, you may be wondering if there’s anything you can do about the appearance of the gap in the meantime. We understand that not everyone wants to wait months to fix a cosmetic issue, so we can create a temporary crown to use in the meantime. This will not be as secure as a permanent crown, so you will want to chew carefully on it, but it should look like a natural tooth.
What to Do After a Crown Placement
Once your crown is in place, you should be able to chew normally. However, your crown will last longer and hold up better if you make an effort not to eat too many hard foods that cause wear on the crown. You should also practice good dental hygiene, flossing and brushing regularly, and keep up with regular tooth cleanings and exams. With good oral care, you can expect a crown to last 10-15 years or more.
Contact a Gwinnett County Dentist About an Implant Crown Consultation
If you have a tooth gap you’d like to do something about or a bridge that isn’t working well for you, please contact us for a consultation. We’ll perform a thorough exam and go over your health history to determine if an implant crown or other options may be beneficial for you.