If you have multiple missing teeth, you may be looking at different dental prosthetics—like dentures—and more permanent restorations, like implants. If you are missing multiple adjacent teeth, you may want to look into an implant-supported bridge. Read on to learn more about this restoration and its benefits.
What is an implant-supported bridge?
A bridge is a dental restoration that replaces groups of missing teeth. The gap is bridged with false teeth, and the restoration is secured by abutment teeth on each side of the gap. Usually, your dentist will use a dental drill to shape the abutment teeth so that crowns can fit over them. The rest of the bridge then connects to these crown abutments. In an implant-supported bridge, however, the implant itself acts as the abutment teeth to hold the bridge in place.
Why is an implant-supported bridge better than crown-supported bridges?
In order to have a crown-supported bridge, you still need some healthy teeth on each side of the gap to act as an abutment. If a lot of your teeth aren't healthy and need to be extracted, then an implant-supported bridge is a better option since you don't need a healthy teeth for an abutment.
One downside of crown-supported bridges is that you will have to have enamel cut and removed on abutment teeth in order to support a crown. If you have very healthy teeth on each side of the gap, then you may not want to have these teeth fitted with crowns. With an implant-supported bridge, you don't have to have any of your natural enamel reshaped and fitted with crowns. The crowns will fit over the implant posts imbedded in the jawline.
Couldn't you just get multiple implants for missing teeth?
You could get multiple single-unit implants to fill in the gap instead of an implant-supported bridge, but that could get expensive.
Plus, implants that are spaced out from one another tend to heal better than implants that are placed too closely together. One study found that people with more than five implants in fixed restorations tended to be more at risk for peri-implantitis and bone loss. Peri-implantitis is an inflammatory condition where the implant that affects the jaw bone and gum tissues, making it more likely for the implant to fail. An implant-supported bridge may be a better option and help you avoid peri-implantitis. With an implant-supported bridge, you'll only need one or two implant abutments, so you can reduce the risk of peri-implantitis that was cited in the study.
Reach out to your dentist to learn more about dental implants and implant-supported bridges.