As basic as it sounds, dental implants are essentially small titanium screws. Once implanted in your jaw, the screw becomes an artificial tooth root. The bone heals around it, and then a customized, realistic porcelain tooth is attached to the implant. But how does a dentist attach the tooth so it permanently stays in place?
Once your jawbone has properly healed so that it can support the pressure that its prosthetic tooth will cause, it's ready to be completed. An implant and its prosthetic tooth can take on an equivalent amount of bite pressure to a natural tooth and its root—and no other false tooth (like dentures or a dental bridge) can do this. But to withstand that pressure, the prosthetic tooth must be very securely attached to the implant.
The tip of the titanium implant that pokes out of your gums will be fitted with a small abutment, which is also made of titanium. Now your dentist is ready to connect the prosthetic tooth, which has been made either onsite at the dental clinic that performed your implantation procedure, or at an offsite dental laboratory. The way your dentist connects it depends on which of two classifications the tooth happens to be.
Front or Back
So what are these two classifications? Your upper and lower teeth? Not quite. They're your anterior and posterior teeth. Your upper and lower incisors and canines are anterior teeth. These are the most obvious, or most visible of all your teeth—at the front of your jaw. Posterior teeth are upper and lower premolars and molars. They're less visible in their position towards the back of your jaw. In terms of bite pressure, anterior teeth are used to grip and tear pieces of food. Posterior teeth grind the food into a consistency that allows it to be swallowed.
Cement or Screw
Anterior teeth experience less bite pressure than posterior teeth. A dental implant in the anterior zone will have its prosthetic tooth cemented in place, using a small amount of ultra-strong, permanent dental cement. Posterior teeth will undergo more pressure and friction due to all the chewing they'll perform. The prosthetic tooth for an implant in the posterior zone will have a small hole through its center. This allows the prosthetic tooth to be screwed onto the implant abutment to achieve the required strength. The hole is then filled using tooth-colored dental cement.
And that's how a dental implant's prosthetic tooth is permanently attached, with the method really depending on what type of tooth is being replaced.
For more info about dental implants, contact a local dentist.