Working Together: Why Dental Implants Need Dental Crowns

It's easy to think of a dental implant as a single, solid object made up of a false tooth and a small metal screw implanted into your jaw. The false tooth (which is called a dental crown) is connected to the screw, allowing it to function just like a natural tooth. Your implant and the dental crown secured to it are separate components that work together. 

Embedded in Your Jaw

The actual dental implant is the portion embedded in your jaw. This is a small screw-like object made of titanium alloy. The titanium screw is placed in your jawbone during your dental implant surgery. A process called osseointegration then begins. This is nothing more than your jawbone healing around the metal component that has been inserted into it. New bone tissue grows around the titanium screw. Once healing is complete, the implant's screw is locked in position, giving the implant the same strength as a natural tooth root.

Titanium Portions

The end of the screw that protrudes through your gums must be fitted with an abutment. This is a tiny metal disc (also made of titanium). Its purpose is to help the implant screw connect to its new false tooth. The titanium portions of your implant (the screw and abutment) are intended to be in place permanently. Surgery is generally required to remove the embedded section of a dental implant. This is why the process is considered to be permanent.

Your Dental Crown

Dental crowns attached to dental implants are not entirely permanent. Don't be concerned, because it's not like you'll have to replace the tooth anytime soon. The crown will be made of porcelain, which helps to mimic the appearance and strength of a tooth's natural structure. It's designed for long-term use. But how long is long-term?

Dental Crown Longevity

On average, expect around ten years of use from a dental crown. Depending on other dental factors (the evenness and force of your bite), your diet, your oral hygiene, and your general lifestyle, your crown can last even longer. It's porcelain, so it won't be susceptible to tooth decay, but accidents still happen. If the crown becomes cracked, chipped, or damaged in any way, you'll need to have it replaced.

A dental implant shouldn't ever need to be replaced. But the dental crown attached to your implant? That will eventually need to be replaced—even though it won't be for quite some time.