You might think of a dental implant as a whole, complete tooth because that's what it looks like and functions as once it's been placed. The implant itself is actually a metal screw in your jaw meant to hold a natural-looking crown in place. Many patients never have to replace the implant itself, but crowns typically only last for 10 to 15 years. Crowns in the back of your mouth may need even more frequent replacement since they undergo more stress from chewing. Having your implant crown replaced is generally an easier and quicker procedure than having an implant placed initially.
If your original crown was attached to your implant with a screw, replacing it is quite easy. Your dentist will loosen the screw and remove your current crown. The area underneath your crown will be cleaned. Before you get your new crown, your dentist will make any necessary repairs or adjustments to the metal implant itself. If you haven't had an annual X-ray to check the state of your other teeth and jaw, your dentist will most likely order one to make sure there are no signs of infection or bone loss around the implant structure. A new crown is placed and screwed into the abutment (the part that attaches to the implant itself to hold the crown).
Some crowns are cemented to their implant posts when they're originally placed. Cemented crowns are common near the front of your mouth on teeth where a screw hole would be more noticeable. If your original crown was cemented in, your dentist might have to drill into the crown to remove it. Some cements are able to be loosened with a water-soluble gel to make it easier to get them out for replacement. Since they are harder to remove, replacing a cemented crown can be more time-consuming and costly than replacing a crown attached with a screw is.
Talk to a dentist like Abrams Steven about replacing your crown if you're having your implant placed for the first time or if you've had it awhile and are thinking about replacing it soon. Even if your current crown isn't damaged or worn in any way that would suggest you need a replacement, you can opt for a new crown if, for example, you've recently whitened your teeth or had veneers placed on surrounding teeth and your implant crown no longer matches the shade of your other teeth. While most patients can have a new crown attached to an existing implant with no issues, your dentist might suggest another option if you've had any complications with your existing implant or if you've developed any conditions, such as diabetes, that put you at a higher risk for implant complications.