What is an Implant Supported Bridge?

An implant-supported bridge offers a solution for people who are missing two or more teeth next to each other. Implant-supported bridges are comfortable, natural-looking, and beneficial for patients who are missing teeth, providing protection against bone reabsorption and helping patients to chew, speak, and smile confidently. Because implant-supported bridges effectively replace the roots of the natural teeth, they are a stable and effective long-term solution that stimulates healthy bone growth while attractively accommodating the needs and forces of everyday life.

Like traditional bridges, implant-supported bridges replace two or more missing teeth in a row. Traditional bridges rely on dental crowns that are placed over the teeth adjacent to the bridge, which requires the dentist to shave away healthy dental tissue in order to accommodate crowns, while implant-supported bridges are affixed to dental implants, or tiny titanium posts that are surgically implanted into the jawbone. Larger bridges usually require more dental implants than smaller ones, but once the implant-supported bridge is placed, these implants can hold it securely in place for a lifetime with the proper care.

Following the initial consultation and planning, dental implant surgery is the first procedure required for implant-supported bridge placement, though peripheral procedures or treatments may be necessary to prepare the jaw before implants are placed. In most cases, dental implant surgery involves two separate procedures with a comprehensive healing period between them, usually about four to six month. While this healing time may be daunting for some prospective patients, the advantages conferred by implant-supported bridges far outweigh the investment of additional time and other expense. Implant-supported bridges don’t require the removal of healthy tissue, and dental implants actually enhance the oral health by stimulating the growth of the bone that surrounds them; without this stimulation, the bone in the jaw will reabsorb so the body can use it elsewhere, which can cause a sunken, prematurely aged appearance and encourage the loss of additional teeth and bone. The bond that occurs between the bone and implant also helps keep an implant-supported bridge solidly in place for the duration.

In order to safely receive dental implants, the patient must have adequate oral health and have enough healthy bone tissue to support implants. In some cases, bone grafts or sinus lifts can help enhance the amount of available bone and may be necessary before implants can be placed, and existing gum disease or tooth decay should also be addressed before a dental implant procedure. Certain health conditions or habits like smoking can adversely affect a patient’s ability to heal properly and should also be addressed as part of the overall dental implant treatment plan. For example, patients with diabetes or other inflammatory conditions will work with their primary care provider, as part of their implant dental team, to make sure the condition is effectively managed and healing is optimized, and smokers will practice smoking-cessation techniques during healing with the optimal goal of quitting altogether. Though it may take some strategizing and careful planning, implant-supported bridges can be an attractive, comfortable, durable, and long-lasting solution for many people seeking to replace two or more missing consecutive teeth.

What are Implant Supported Bridges Made Of?