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Implant dentistry is rapidly growing in popularity and demand. Initially introduced by Swedish orthopedic surgeon Per-Ingvar Branemark for treatment of completely edentulous patients, the technique quickly gained recognition as a good approach for other dental treatments since it offers plenty of benefits in comparison with the traditional approaches such as fixed bridges or Removable dental prostheses. Most importantly, the use of implants eliminates the involvement of adjacent teeth and helps to maintain the health and structure of underlying bone.
General features of dental implants
So-called root form implants are by far the most commonly used type of dental implants. They are designed to mimic the shape of natural teeth. Dental implant is based on the fixture which is a screw-like component surgically inserted into the bone. The fixture is usually made of pure titanium or titanium alloys. Titanium can become osseointegrated, i.e. it forms a direct structural and functional connection with the surrounding bone tissues.
The process of osseointegration takes several months. Upon completion of this healing period, a crown is fabricated and attached to the implant. Crown can be either screw retained or cemented to the implant. While cemented crowns are permanently attached to the implant, screw retained crowns can be removed, if necessary. This was traditionally considered as an advantage since the removal of the crown might be needed to address problems with implant or surrounding tissues.
Cost versus quality: real value for money?
Because of more complex lab procedures involved, the screw retained crowns tend to be more expensive (by a factor of 1.5 to 2) than cemented ones. The conventional laboratory facilities are sufficient for fabrication of cement retained restorations, while screw retained restorations require additional components. Higher cost also means that patients have higher expectations in regards to the quality of crowns, their longevity and ease of maintenance. But does the more expensive technology really deliver the value for money?
Advantages and disadvantages of different types of dental crowns
Which type of crowns – cemented or screw-retained – is better is a hotly debated topic among both researchers and dental practitioners. There are numerous articles analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of both techniques. They scrutinize various particular aspects of both restorations, problems and complications usually encountered and applicability of both methods to a variety of practical situations. But even the most recent reviews of the problem don’t provide a definitive answer to the question which technique is better. There are several aspects that have to be taken into consideration when deciding which type of implant supported crown has to be used in each particular case.
The value of retrievability of screw-retained crowns is questioned by many now, since the rate of complications with modern implants seems to be no higher that with natural teeth. Since it is considered perfectly acceptable to cement the restoration on the natural teeth, it is reasonable to ask why implants have to be treated differently.