What is the difference between a Dental Crown and a Dental Implant Crown?

Many patients have asked what the distinction is between a normal dental crown (many years ago referred to as a ‘cap’) and a dental implant crown. A traditional dental crown is supported by a natural tooth’s root structure. It is often recommended when a significant portion of the visible tooth is no longer healthy, due to disease or decay, in order to maintain the natural tooth in place. To restore the tooth Drs. Hochberg and Diora remove the damaged area, shape the remaining tooth structure, take an impression or digital scan and send it to our dental lab for fabrication of the crown. Our detail-oriented technician will use the information we provide to customize the color, shape, and size so that the new restoration appears natural and functions appropriately. To finalize the process the crown is then tried in or ‘fitted’ over the remaining portion of the tooth. When the fit and color meets both our patient and doctor’s expectations it is permanently bonded with a special dental adhesive material.

Hochberg ImplantIs a crown on a Dental Implant the same?
Oftentimes a dental implant is treatment planned when a natural tooth is either congenitally missing or must be removed due to decay or injury. The implant becomes the support system for a new tooth, replacing the root. Once the implant is in place and ready for restoration a mold is taken of the implant. A special type of crown, called a dental implant crown, will be fabricated to complete the restoration of the implant. As a dental implant ends at the gum line, and there no longer tooth structure to fill the center of the dental implant crown, normally we will have our technician use this mold to make an abutment, also called a connector. This portion of the restoration, typically made of a strong ceramic called Zirconia or titanium, will tie the submerged dental implant to the new crown. A feat of engineering, the abutment is held in place by a screw that goes through a small hole in the center of the abutment, ingeniously joining together the two components – the implant and the abutment. The abutment is designed to provide the strength to support the implant and to bear the forces of ones bite.

While most often our office fabricates the dental implant crown with the abutment as above, certain circumstances dictate an alternate method for the implant to be joined with the crown. Termed a screw-retained implant crown, in this scenario a screw goes through the crown directly into the dental implant (without an abutment) and allows the dentist to remove the crown for cleaning.

How are crowns and dental implant crowns held in place?
A crown is secured, bonded, in place using permanent cement. When we are ready to secure our dental implant crown, unless it is screw-retained, we bond the crown to the abutment with same material as we use for a traditional crown. This is considered the simplest technique and has less opportunity for bacteria to find a way underneath the implant crown.

How do I care for my dental implant crown?
Most often dental implant crowns often have their edges going slightly underneath the gum line, just like crowns placed on natural teeth. To keep the new restoration and the surrounding tissue healthy we do ask patients to maintain a good home healthcare regime. This entails brushing, flossing and regular visits to their dental hygienists. Also, an excellent tool to keep the area clean and free of bacteria is the use of an oral irrigator. All our patients are provided with personalized instructions as they proceed through their treatment. And we are always available to provide guidance and answer all questions to ensure our patients enjoy years of smiling with confidence and chewing in comfort.

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