Implant Supported Dental Bridges: an Introduction

If you have a history of dental problems, there’s a chance that you need to replace more than one tooth, or a tooth that’s too close to another tooth that’s been fixed.

One common dental appliance we use when replacing teeth in this situation is an implant supported dental bridge. Implant supported dental bridges differ from traditional bridges in that they are supported by implants instead of natural teeth. Typically, when you get an implant supported bridge, a titanium implant is placed into the jawbone for each tooth. Next, once the implants are placed into the jaw the crowns are connected to one another to form a unified piece for your bridge.

When an Implant Supported Bridge is Used

Implant supported dental bridges are used for a few reasons. Most frequently, we use an implant supported dental bridge because more than a single tooth is missing. We also use an implant supported bridge when there’s a chance that you could put too much pressure on individual implants when they aren’t secured to each other.  This can often occur if you clench your jaw or grind your teeth, which could eventually cause the bridge to loosen over time. With an implant supported bridge, the pressure is reduced so that it’s evenly placed across the entire appliance – and not just a single pressure point. In order to be suitable for an implant supported bridge (and if the teeth “next door” are natural teeth) it is important that the natural teeth and the nearby gums are in great health. If this isn’t the case, and you need additional bone to support the dental implants, your dentist will most likely recommend bone augmentation to ensure success for the actual dental implant.

The Big Difference: Implant Supported Dental Bridge vs. Traditional Bridge

An implant supported dental bridge begins with the implant. A dental implant is typically titanium, and is carefully placed into your jawbone. Sometimes, your dentist will recommend an implant for each missing tooth. Other times, it might be possible to skip a space or two if there’s not enough jawbone available or the space doesn’t work for an individual implant.

Next comes the abutment. The abutment is the element of the implant supported dental bridge that you wouldn’t need if the surrounding teeth were healthy. An abutment is a cylinder that’s usually made of titanium (like the implant). During installation, it is screwed onto the implant. Finally, the part of the bridge that actually looks like a natural section of teeth is connected to the abutment to complete the bridge.

How Soon Can Implant Supported Bridges Be Used?

If your dentist needs to graft bone to provide enough jawbone for a dental implant to stay-put, you will need at least 5 months for your bone to heal enough for the titanium bridge to successfully attach to the jawbone. If you don’t require bone-grafting, the implant process can begin relatively quickly. After implants are installed in your mouth, they need time to fuse with the bone. This can take several months, especially if bone grafting was required. Once this has happened, a second surgery is required to install an implant collar that separates the gums from the head of the implant so that a bridge can be installed. Once the collar is added, your dentist will generally install a temporary bridge.  Finally, a few weeks after getting your temporary bridge, a permanent bridge is designed to match your teeth and implanted.

The best part about getting an implant supported denture is that it will feel more secure than virtual any other implant or denture, and will allow you to eat foods almost as if you didn’t have a tooth replaced at all.

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