Getting Dental Implants? Understand These Terms Your Dentist May Use

Posted on: 11 June 2015

When you have dental instruments in your mouth and a million thoughts running through your mind, it's easy to miss some of the instructions and explanations your dentist presents to you. If you gain a thorough understanding of some of the terminology used to describe dental implant procedures, you'll have an easier time understanding your dentists' explanation of the process, even when you're frazzled.

Here's a look at some common terms used when discussing dental implants, and what each one means:

Post: The post, also sometimes called the actual "dental implant," is the part of the new tooth that is actually implanted in your jaw bone. It is usually made of titanium and is essentially a false tooth root.

Abutment: This is the "connector" portion of the implant that attaches to the post and also to the new crown, or chewing portion, of the dental implant.

Osseointegration: This term refers to the process by which the post portion of the implant becomes fused to the jaw bone into which is has been implanted. In most patients, this occurs over a period of several months.

Resorb: If you do not have a dental implant put into the place of a missing tooth within a certain period of time, the bone in the empty socket may "resorb," or in other words, be dissolved by your body. If the reabsorption process is too far along, you may no longer be a candidate for dental implants.

Periodontal: This term refers to the area surrounding your teeth. Your dentist may say you still have some "periodontal pain" or "periodontal inflammation" several days after implant surgery.

Graft: When used in relation to dental implants, this term usually refers to a bone graft. If your jaw bones are not substantial enough to support the implant, you may need to have cadaver bone "grafted" or "added on to" your own jaw bone. This is done through a surgical process several months before you have the actual implant surgery.

Endosteal: This term refers to the most common type of dental implant used—the type that is buried directly in your jaw bone. "Endosteal" literally means "in the bone." Subperiosteal implants, which sit between the bone and the gums, are a less common type of implant.

Now that you know the meanings of some common dental implant terms, you should have an easier time understanding your dentist's explanation of your required procedures. If you don't understand any additional terms your dentist (such as Peter J. Kaufman, DMD) uses, don't be afraid to ask him or her to explain further. The more you understand about the procedure you're having, the less worried you'll be.