I just love having a conversation that I can’t understand—said no one ever! Take a conversation about dental implants, for instance. Your periodontist will likely use some words that you’re not familiar with, because—well—you’re not a periodontist. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn those words. Read on for a cheat sheet that will help you understand and may even make you feel less apprehensive about the procedure.
Let’s start at the beginning. A dental implant is a small medical device that is surgically embedded in your jawbone. Once in place, the implant secures a dental prosthesis, which can be a denture, a crown or a bridge. Most periodontists today use endosteal dental implants, which are in the bone. The other option is subperiosteal—on the bone—implants that are part of a metal framework with posts that extend above your gums.
The abutment is that portion of the prosthetic connecting the implant to the denture, crown or bridge. The periodontist will either build it into the implant or secure it on top. An abutment is essential to holding the prosthetic restoration in place.
If you’re up on your Latin then this word shouldn’t be a problem. But in case you’re not—osseo is from the Latin ossum, bone, and integrare, to make whole. The word refers to the firm anchoring of the dental implant by the growth of bone tissue around it.
Titanium is a type of metal that is used to construct most dental implants. The advantages of titanium are numerous. First, not many people are allergic to titanium. Secondly, it’s strong but also lightweight so the weight on your jawbone is less once the implant is placed. Finally, titanium integrates well with bone tissue, which is why it is also used in other surgical procedures like hip and knee replacements.
Zirconia is another material used to manufacture implants. It is naturally white and reduces the risk of bacterial growth around an implants and attached restoration.
Dental implants can even be made of ceramic, a clay-based material. As such, ceramic is usually white or ivory, so it may be preferable to metal implants for some patients. In addition, for someone who is allergic to metal, ceramic implants offer a viable solution.
These definitions should get you by when you have a conversation with your periodontist. However, if there’s anything you don’t understand, ask!
Meet the Doctors
Dr. Handsman and Dr. Jenny are periodontists in Worcester. Both are trained and skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease through non-surgical and surgical treatments such as dental implants. Call to schedule an appointment today.