Implant-supported bridges are a type of dental implant that are sometimes used when you are missing multiple teeth in one section of your mouth. They are a good option for people who don't have enough bone tissue to support many individual dental implants and who don't want to get traditional bridges. Here's what you need to know about this option.
What are implant-supported bridges?
Traditional bridges are artificial teeth that are attached to adjacent teeth with a metal apparatus or crowns. Implant-supported bridges are similar, but they attached to your jawbone with metal posts instead of being attached to your adjacent teeth. Since an implant-supported bridge is manufactured in one solid piece it's not necessary for each tooth to be supported by a metal post. This allows the dentist to anchor the bridge with fewer metal posts than would be required for individual dental implants.
Why do dentists offer implant-supported bridges?
Implant-supported bridges don't require a post underneath every tooth like individual dental implants do. This is a major benefit since missing teeth cause your jawbone to atrophy, or re-absorb into your body. This is a natural process that occurs because the bone is no longer needed to anchor the tooth in place, but it also makes it hard for dentists to attach individual dental implants.
Some parts of your jawbone may be too thin to attach a post, which makes you a bad candidate for traditional dental implants. You would need to undergo jawbone grafts before you could get these implants. If nearby areas are thick enough to support a post, you should still be able to get implant-supported bridges without needing any grafts.
Implant-supported bridges also have a major advantage over traditional bridges: they prevent further jawbone atrophy. This is because the posts that hold your implant-supported bridges in place will stimulate your jawbone, just like the roots of your natural teeth did.
How long does it take to recover?
Implant-supported bridges usually require multiple appointments, and you'll need to recover between these appointments.
First, the metal posts that will anchor your bridge will be surgically attached to your jaw through incisions in your gums. These incisions will then be sewn shut. Once the posts are in place, you'll need to heal for between 2 and 6 months. The healing period is long because your jawbone needs to grow around the posts to secure them in place.
Once you've healed, your gums will be cut once again to expose the posts. Temporary healing caps will be placed on top of the posts to allow your gums to heal. The healing period after this appointment is much shorter than after your first appointment, only a couple of weeks.
Once your gums have healed, your final implants will be attached to the posts. It will take you a while to get used to your new teeth, but you shouldn't feel any pain at this stage.
How long do implant-supported bridges last?
Implant-supported bridges are designed to last for the rest of your life, so the multiple appointments and long healing time are well worth it. Studies have shown that these implants can last for more than 50 years. In comparison, a bridge that is supported only by your adjacent teeth can only be expected to last for somewhere between 7 and 10 years.
If you've been told that you're not a good candidate for individual dental implants, you should ask a dentist such as Jacqueline Subka DDS APC about implant-supported bridges. Since these bridges don't require as many posts as individual implants do, you may be a good candidate for this procedure, even if you have jawbone atrophy in some areas of your mouth.