When a patient is missing multiple teeth, a dentist may recommend an implant-supported bridge. The porcelain used has a natural look, sensation and implant-supported bridges stimulate bone growth to improve functional stability. As a result, this option has become a popular restorative dental procedure.
About Implant-Supported Bridges
Traditional bridges use the adjacent natural teeth for support and add crowns in between. An implant-supported bridge places titanium screws into the jawbone for each missing tooth, rather than shaving down the surrounding teeth for crowns.
Implant-supported bridges have multiple advantages, including:
- They are one of the strongest and restorative systems available.
- They look and function like natural teeth.
- Compared to traditional bridges, there is less risk for gums and bones to recede.
- They replace some tooth roots, helping better preserve the jawbone.
- The risk of bacteria gathering and causing tooth decay around the bridge is much less.
- You can resume your regular eating habits, unlike the adjusted diet for removable dentures.
- If a patient grinds or places pressure on their teeth, an implant-supported bridge helps better distribute the force and decreases the chance of implant failure.
- None of the adjacent teeth have to be shaved down – a necessity for traditional bridges, which may place stress on neighboring teeth and compromise existing bone structure.
What to Expect
Implant-supported bridges require multiple procedures over several months. A dentist embeds the implant into the jawbone and the bridge is added to the abutment in a second procedure. From start to finish, including healing, the procedure takes about five months for the lower jaw and seven months for the upper jaw.
Your dentist begins with an oral exam and reviews your relevant medical and dental history, before taking an X-ray of your teeth and gums. The scans illustrate the state of your teeth, indicate if the implants could affect sinuses or nerves in the area and if your jaw has enough bone growth for support.
During your first surgery, the periodontist or oral surgeon inserts the implants into the jaw, covers them with gum tissue and ensures correct positioning. After three to six months, during which your gums heal and the implants fuse to your jaw, a dentist will assess the bone growth with an X-ray. If everything goes as planned, a second surgical procedure exposes the implants.
The bridge won’t be attached right away. Rather, a collar-like device called a healing cap is placed on top of the exposed implants to ensure the gum tissue heals correctly around the screws and abutments.
The initial impression of your teeth is used to create a wax model for a plastic surgical guard. It fits over your existing and missing teeth to indicate where the implants will go.
By your next visit, the caps will be replaced with a temporary bridge to protect the implants. You’ll wear the temporary implant for one to two months. Then, the dentist will attach the porcelain bridge and make any adjustments for a secure fit.
Are Implant-Supported Bridges for Everyone?
Although the strength and stability benefit many patients, those currently living with dental issues or gum disease are not the best candidates for an implant-supported bridge.
Individuals with a weakened or diminished jawbone will have to wait longer. Bone augmentation or grafting may be needed to strengthen the area before the procedure can officially begin.
Are you experiencing pain following a recent bridge procedure? Don’t wait. We see emergencies same day!