If you need to replace missing teeth, your oral surgeon may recommend a dental implant. The procedure involves the placement of the implant and the attachment of the abutment and crown. Healing abutments can help in the healing process. It is important to learn more about the procedure and the benefits of the healing abutment.
A healing abutment, also known as a healing cap or gingival former, can help promote soft and hard tissue healing around an implant. The healing cap also protects the main part of the implant from plaque and debris accumulations. It is often fitted on top of the implant. It is slightly wider than the implant to help shape the gumline. An oral surgeon can fit the healing abutment in either the one-stage or two-stage procedure.
In the one-stage procedure, the oral surgeon will place the implant and the healing cap at the same time. The implant is first inserted into the bone, then the healing cap is attached to it. The healing abutment will protrude through the surface of the gum and stay in place while the dental implant heals. Once the implant and jawbone fully integrate, the healing cap will be removed to gain access to the implant. The abutment will then replace the healing cap. Finally, the crown will be placed over the abutment.
In the two-stage procedure, after the oral surgeon inserts the implant into the bone, it is covered with gum tissue and left to heal. After healing, the implant fuses with the bone in the process of osseointegration for several months. The second phase involves making another incision to expose the implant before the healing cap is screwed on it. The healing abutment will help the surrounding gum to heal. After some weeks, the healing cap will be removed before the attachment of the abutment and eventually the crown will be put in place.
Some people opt to use the healing abutment because it makes the process shorter. In the one-stage procedure, once the oral surgeon places the healing cap, there is no need for the second surgery to connect the abutment. The healing abutment is removed after the gums heal and then the connecting abutment is fitted before the crown is attached. However, people are usually advised to see an oral surgeon to get information and guidance on the ideal method.
Healing abutments should not be reused. Patients should not reuse healing caps. One of the main reasons is because the recreation of the surface of a new abutment is not feasible even with sterilization. Sterilization can also change the initial composition of the titanium surface, which makes the product less effective. Sometimes cleaning may damage the healing cap implant screws. This can make it hard to fix it tightly in an implant.
Another equipment also called standard abutments, are pre-manufactured abutments, made by dental implant companies to fit an existing implant system. Mass-produced and fitted to the implant, these dental stock abutments are cost-effective but are not custom-fit to the patient. This means that though the implant is less expensive, the result can vary in aesthetic appearance. Smart Abutments, or fitted abutments, are custom-made abutments, created by a dental laboratory using an impression of the individual's mouth. This data, as well as the position of the implant, is then used to create a custom abutment that fits perfectly into the patient's implant and gum line, bringing optimal aesthetic results, albeit with a higher price tag.