Is a Dental Implant the Same as a Crown?

As dental technology has evolved, one of the most significant advancements has been the use of dental implants.  However, since many people are familiar with the terms crowns and caps, they often wonder if a crown and dental implant are one and the same.  If you also have been wondering about this, here are some key facts and differences of which you should be aware.

What is a Crown?

A traditional dental crown, for years commonly referred to as a cap, essentially fits over a portion of a tooth that is no longer healthy due to decay or disease.  However, since the tooth’s root structure is still in place, the crown is supported by this and thus can be placed directly on the tooth once a dentist shapes the remaining tooth structure and fabricates a new crown.

What is a Dental Implant?

When referring to a dental implant, there are in fact many similarities between it and a traditional crown.  While the ultimate goal of both is to improve a person’s smile and ability to chew without pain, there is one key difference that separates dental implants from crowns.  When a dental implant is used, this means the natural tooth is already missing or needs to be removed due to disease or decay.  Thus, if the natural tooth is not there, neither is the root structure that is used for traditional crowns.  Therefore, the implant itself becomes the support system for the new tooth, taking the place of a natural tooth’s root.

How are Crowns and Dental Implants Held in Place?

When a traditional crown is used on a tooth, permanent cement is used to bond it into place on the natural tooth.  As for dental implants, they are usually retained by small screws inserted into a patient’s gums.  Though this may sound very invasive, the procedure is actually quite easy to perform and most patients experience little overall discomfort.

If you have been suffering from teeth that are decaying or have other issues, consider the possibility of crowns or dental implants.  To find out which one may be right for you, schedule a consultation soon with your dentist to discuss both options and learn how you can become pain-free and have a great smile.


Brief History of Dental Implants

If you think dental implants have only been around for a decade or two, you may be surprised to learn they got their start thousands of years ago.  In fact, as far back as 2000 B.C., carved bamboo pegs were used in ancient China to replace missing teeth.  Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then.  However, the journey has been filled with plenty of variety.

Gems, Seashells, and More

Believe it or not, it was not uncommon in ancient civilizations and even well into the 18th-century for dentists to use almost anything they could to replace a missing tooth.  For those folks who were wealthy, rare gems such as jades were sometimes used to replace a lost tooth. For other individuals, it was common to find their mouths filled with small seashells, rocks, or even the teeth of other people or an animal.  But as you would suspect, all of these methods were prone to infection and discomfort, leading dentists to look for more suitable methods.

Thank the Rabbit

As for how dentists finally got on the right track with dental implants, you can thank a rabbit for helping to show them the way.   In 1952, the femur bone of a rabbit was fused together with a titanium rod, and the process worked so well that the orthopedic surgeon who performed the surgery thought the same method could be applied to dental implants.  Thus, in 1965, the first human volunteer received a titanium dental implant, and the rest is history.

A Quicker Pace

Once the rabbit helped everyone see how well titanium would work with dental implants, researchers hit the fast-forward button and have been going full-speed ahead ever since.  Since titanium took care of the past problems where a person’s body would reject the dental implant, screws can now easily be secured to a person’s jaw and eventually fuse with the jawbone, allowing a crown to be inserted over the screw.

Thanks to digital technology, 3-D printers, and ever-increasing scientific knowledge, today’s dental implants have a success rate of over 97 percent.  Since you now know you won’t have bamboo, seashells, or other strange things in your mouth, make an appointment with your dentist to discuss how you may benefit from dental implants.