A dental implant crown is the final and permanent step in replacing a missing tooth with an implant. Dental implants are the standard of care for replacing missing teeth in the United States. They can preserve surrounding oral tissues normally compromised by a missing tooth. They are better than dental bridges since no additional teeth will be altered to replace the missing teeth. They are better than dentures since they are fixed and they preserve your jawbone by integrating with the bone.
Approximately 3-6 months after the implant placement surgery, the permanent implant crown will be fabricated.
A typical implant crown requires two visits and takes 1-3 weeks to complete.
- The healing abutment is removed.
- Impression coping is temporarily placed.
- Impressions for the implant crown are taken.
- The correct shade is chosen to match the patient’s natural teeth.
- The lab-made custom abutment and crown are placed and screwed in.
- Minor adjustments may need to be made to ensure proper occlusion (bite).
TYPES OF IMPLANT CROWNS
There are two common types of implant crowns – screw-retained and cement-retained.
A screw-retained implant crown is attached to the implant abutment with a metal screw through an “access hole”. There are two major advantages of screw-retained crowns. First, the screw allows for the easy removal of the implant crown for professional cleanings or repair. Second, multiple studies have indicated that screw-retained implant crowns preserve the health of the surrounding gums significantly better than cement-retained implant crowns. The disadvantage of screw-retained implant crowns is the minor aesthetic imperfection caused by the presence of the filled access hole on the occlusal or lingual side of the crown.
A cement-retained implant crown is attached to the implant abutment using permanent cement. While somewhat more aesthetic (via the lack of access hole), cement-retained implant crowns have been linked to higher rates of inflammation in the soft tissue around the implant. Furthermore, depending on the cement used, a cement-retained implant crown can fall out easily (where a weaker cement was used); or conversely, it may be extremely difficult to remove the crown when needed for cleaning and repair (when a very strong cement was used).
Dental implant crowns require diligent daily home care and regular professional dental cleanings in order to ensure their longevity. Brush gently with a soft bristle tooth brush, and use dental floss or soft proxy brushes to clean between your teeth on a daily basis. We recommend Waterpik for patients with implant-supported bridges to be used daily.
Typically, we recommend that patients with dental implants return for professional dental cleanings every 3-6 months. Radiographs may also be taken during these routine visits. The professional cleaning and checkup will help maintain the health of the implant, and spot any potential issues early on.
A less common but more serious complication of dental implants in peri-implantitis. Peri-implantitis is chronic inflammation of the tissue around the implant that leads to bone resorption and implant failure.
Smoking is one of the risk factors that cause dental implant failure. Smoking increases the risk of gum disease by restricting blood flow to the gums and slowing the healing process; it also causes dry mouth by blocking salivary gland production and that creates an unhealthy oral environment. Vaping is even more damaging than cigarettes due to creating higher temperature in the mouth. It is important that you stop smoking in order to maximize the longevity of your dental implants.
Other risks of implant failure include periodontal disease, age, certain medications and poor oral hygiene.
Insurance coverage for implants varies significantly across dental plans, and some plans don’t offer coverage at all. Other plans offer coverage but only if the tooth has been extracted while insured with the same policy. When coverage is available, it usually varies from 50% to 75%. The office of Dr. Mazen Natour will handle all insurance matters for its patients. Please call us if you have any questions about your coverage.