When a missing tooth is about to be replaced with a dental implant, you might be wondering how it will all work. The end result of the process will be the same (as in, you'll have a prosthetic crown anchored by an artificial tooth root), and it will be seamless, regardless of the way in which your dentist attaches the crown to the implant. There are two primary means of attaching the crown to the implant itself, and it's a matter of your individual circumstances.
Your Alveolar Ridge
The actual implant is a titanium bolt inserted into your alveolar ridge. This is a dense, bony ridge which houses your individual dental sockets, which in turn support your individual teeth. The bolt is then topped with a titanium abutment, which is attached to the prosthetic crown. This crown is either secured by a screw or dental cement. But what's the difference?
Both methods of attachment are efficient, and the best method for you will depend on the nature of your dental implants. The alveolar ridge can lose density when a socket is empty (due to the missing tooth), but when an implant is placed shortly after tooth loss, this density is likely to be sufficient. This means you can be a candidate for a same-day implant, which is also known as an immediate-loading implant.
The Healing Process
Whether you receive a same-day implant or a traditional implant, the process relies on something called osseointegration. This is part of the healing process; it is when the alveolar ridge fuses around the implant, allowing it to actually function as an artificial tooth root. Osseointegration happens after the fact with same-day implants, and it's a matter of exercising caution during this period by being careful with your diet.
Cementing the Crown
Same-day implants usually involve the prosthetic crown being screwed into place, as cementing an implant isn't possible when the surrounding tissues are inflamed and bleeding, which is a byproduct of the implant installation. The same happens when a temporary crown is attached to the abutment, even though it will be replaced when osseointegration has concluded. In this case, the permanent crown will generally be cemented into place.
So whether your implant is secured with a screw or dental cement really depends on whether you receive a same-day implant or a traditional implant. With traditional implants, you may temporarily receive a screw, which will be replaced with dental cement. Your dentist will advise you about why one of these methods for securing the implant is best for you.