Implant Supported Bridges

When several neighboring teeth are missing, an implant-supported bridge is an excellent treatment for replacing them.

Although each case will be different, placing an implant-supported bridge generally involves two phases. The first phase is the surgical placement of the implants. The second phase is restoring the implants with the bridge.

The benefits of implants with a bridge

Implants restored with a bridge have several advantages. The implant stops the bone loss that occurs when a tooth is lost, and the bridge prevents the surrounding teeth from shifting into the space. Unlike a traditional bridge, there is no need to reduce the size of neighboring teeth. A bridge retained by implants looks and feels like your natural teeth when you chew and talk.

With proper home care and regular checkups, your implants can be a long-term solution for a natural-looking smile.

Placing the implants

For the surgical placement of the implants, your mouth is thoroughly numbed. Small openings are made in your gums, and a channel is shaped in the bone to receive each implant.

Next we place the bodies of the implants into the prepared channels. Sometimes covers are placed on the implants, and the gums are stitched closed. This method is called a two-stage procedure. In other cases that allow a single-­stage procedure, extensions are attached to the implants at the time of the surgery.

Healing may take several months as the implants become fused securely to the bone. During this time, we may place a temporary replacement bridge.

Restoring the implants with a bridge

If the first phase included closing the gums over the implant, the second phase starts with surgical re-exposure of the implant. Small incisions are made in your gums, and an extension is placed on each implant to bring it above the gum line.  Then we schedule a series of appointments to create your final bridge.

Though some of the steps might be different in your case, they usually include removing a temporary bridge and taking impressions of your mouth. The lab uses the impressions to make an accurate model of your mouth, including the implants. They use the model to create a bridge that fits the implants and your bite.

Depending on the circumstances, we may have you try in the bridge framework, or we have you try in the final bridge. When everything is right, we secure your beautiful new bridge to the implants.

Pros and Cons of Implant Supported Bridges as Compared to Traditional Bridges

Implant-supported bridges and traditional dental bridges are both viable options for replacing missing teeth, each offering distinct advantages and considerations. Implant-supported bridges are anchored onto dental implants rather than natural teeth. This approach provides a significant advantage in terms of preserving the integrity of adjacent teeth. Unlike traditional bridges, which require the adjacent teeth to be filed down to serve as supports for the bridge, implant-supported bridges do not compromise the health of neighboring teeth. This method is also beneficial for maintaining jawbone health, as the implants stimulate the bone in a similar way to natural tooth roots, helping to prevent bone loss that often occurs with tooth loss.

On the downside, implant-supported bridges involve a more complex and invasive procedure compared to traditional bridges. The process requires surgical placement of implants into the jawbone, followed by a healing period that can last several months before the bridge is finally attached. This makes the overall treatment time significantly longer and might not be suitable for all patients, especially those with health conditions that impair healing or those who have insufficient jawbone density without undergoing bone grafting. The cost is also considerably higher for implant-supported bridges due to the surgical procedures and materials involved, potentially making them less accessible for some patients.

Traditional bridges, on the other hand, offer a quicker and less invasive solution for tooth replacement. The procedure can often be completed in just two visits to the dentist without the need for surgery, making it a more straightforward and less time-consuming option. Traditional bridges are also less expensive upfront than implant-supported alternatives, making them a more cost-effective choice for many individuals. However, they do require the alteration of adjacent teeth, which can lead to long-term issues such as an increased risk for tooth decay and the need for potential future dental work on these teeth. Additionally, because traditional bridges don’t stimulate the jawbone, they may contribute to bone loss over time, potentially affecting the fit of the bridge and the appearance of one’s facial structure.

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