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Dental Implant Attachment Methods

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Dentists and specialists, such as endodontists, always aim to save a patient's natural teeth before resorting to any other type of treatment. But if you have a tooth that's beyond saving with a root canal, or if you currently have an empty space from a previous extraction or loss, getting a dental implant might be the best solution. Implants generally blend in with your natural teeth better than removable dentures, and they're easier to care for since they stay in your mouth and get brushed and flossed just like your natural teeth.

Implants consist of a metal post that's placed in your jaw to mimic a tooth's natural root and the crown, which is the part you'll see that is made to look like a natural tooth. The crown can be attached to an abutment or the implant post with cement or a screw. The attachment methods both have pros and cons that you should consider:

Screw-Retained Crowns

Screw-retained crowns have a hole in the crown that allows a dentist to attach it directly to the implant post with a screw. Many dental implants, meaning the post part in your jaw, will last a lifetime, but the crown will likely need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years. Screw-retained crowns make replacement easy since all your dentist will need to do is unscrew your old crown and place a new one. Most crowns attached with screws are covered with a tooth-colored material to make the screw hole less noticeable, but they can still be pretty obvious if they're in teeth that show when you smile or talk. Screw-retained implants are also more prone to chipping or cracking since the hole, and the screw itself weaken the crown slightly. 

Cemented Crowns

The biggest advantage to using cement to attach the crown to the abutment and implant post is that it is more aesthetically pleasing for teeth near the front of the mouth since there won't be a screw hole in the crown. While this isn't typically a concern for implants in the back of the mouth, screw holes can be noticeable when you talk or eat if they're in crowns near the front of your mouth. If you need to have your crown replaced, removing a cemented crown is more difficult than removing a screw-retained one. In some cases, your dentist may have to drill through the crown to remove it and the abutment from the post.

Consult with your dentist or endodontist about which type of implant is right for you. It's best to weigh both options and consult with a specialist who knows all of the facts about your personal situation before deciding on a treatment plan.