How are implants restored?

Dental implants are restored in a variety of ways.

First, the two most common ways implants are used are for removable prostheses, such as for added retention for a mandibular (lower) complete denture. The other way is for a fixed prosthesis, such as a tooth root replacement, followed by a restoration with a crown(s).

For complete denture retention, the implant has a post (abutment) placed into the implant, which is used for an attachment mechanism. There are several forms of retention, such as ball abutments, Locators, ERAs, etc., the selection of which must be left up to the dentist, and agreed to by the patient. The restoration is a complete or sometimes a partial denture.

For a fixed prosthesis, the restoration can be for a single unit or several units, including a full arch of teeth. A single unit is restored similarly to a crown on a tooth, which is restored with porcelain, porcelain-to-metal, or an all metal crown. For multiple units, they can be done with the same materials, the same as for crowns, or as acrylic molded to a metal framework, called a "hybrid" or "fixed-detachable" prosthesis. There are advantages and disadvantages for each, which can be discussed at treatment planning.

Different materials are used to replace teeth. Porcelain, porcelain-to-metal, or all metal is inherently the strongest and most esthetic type of restoration. It is also more of an investment with regard to fees. If the restoration is functioning against other materials in the mouth of a similar nature it is probably the best investment. Acrylic bonded to a metal framework is a very good restoration, especially for similar materials in the opposite arch. However, acrylic materials are not a hard as porcelain and can wear after a time, which will require the teeth and base to be replaced at some time in the future.

Any restorations that are retained by screws (which is really all implant restorations) may become loosened. Periodic checks and maintenance is necessary to maintain normal function and avoid problems or premature failures. Regular hygiene checks and periodic removal of the entire prosthesis is necessary.

Implant Questions and Answers

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