When you were a child, missing teeth were a cause for celebration, and depositing them under your pillow yielded a fortune in loose change. Best of all, you knew a brand new tooth would always grow in to fill the gap in your smile.
Adults tend to view tooth loss a little differently -- there's no cash prize anymore, nor will any more natural teeth appear to replace your pearly whites.
However, your dentist can still restore a natural-looking smile with a variety of options, including prosthetics and dental implants. These appliances are even secure enough to allow normal speaking and chewing, thanks to a strong foundation, called an abutment.
A dental abutment is a fixed point in your mouth used to anchor an artificial tooth or prosthesis. Typically, your dentist will use your surrounding teeth to hold new dental work in place. In other cases, he or she may implant a small post to provide a proper fit. Because the new tooth (or teeth) is fastened to the sturdiest parts of your smile, it feels and functions similar your natural teeth.
When Is an Abutment Needed?
There are several scenarios when your dentist will need to use an abutment. For a dental bridge or dentures, which can have one or more artificial teeth attached, your natural teeth provide adequate support. In the case of dental implants, your dentist will place a specially created metal abutment for each new tooth.