Missing teeth can have a serious negative impact on oral health and function. In addition to causing difficulties while eating and speaking, gaps in your smile can also cause adjacent teeth to shift, resulting in significant bite problems. Individuals who are missing two or more consecutive teeth can benefit from an implant-supported bridge. Unlike traditional bridges, implant-supported bridges prevent jaw atrophy and require no alteration of surrounding teeth. At our Nashville, TN, dental practice, Dr. Jerry Hancock uses 3-D imaging to guide your dental implant surgery for safe, precise treatment.
The Anatomy of an Implant-Supported Bridge
Dental bridges consist of one or more replacement teeth. Implant-supported bridges are quite similar to conventional dental bridges with one major exception. Instead of relying on neighboring teeth for support, implant-supported bridges are connected to dental implants embedded in the jawbone. The number of implants necessary will depend on the unique needs of the individual. However, as a general rule, a single bridge replacing two to three teeth will require two implants.
Who Is a Candidate for an Implant-Supported Bridge?
Individuals who are seeking a permanent solution for two to three missing teeth in a row may qualify for an implant-supported bridge. Candidates should be in good general health, not smoke, and be free of any medical concerns that could hinder the healing process. If gum disease or tooth decay is present, Dr. Hancock can perform restorative procedures to improve oral health before implant surgery.
Because dental implants mimic the micromovements of natural tooth roots, they actively preserve existing bone tissue and prevent bone degradation over time.
Patients considering any implant-supported restoration will also need adequate jawbone tissue. In order for a dental implant to be successful long-term, it needs support. If you do not have sufficient jawbone tissue, Dr. Hancock can perform a bone graft or sinus lift to prepare your jaw for implant placement.
Planning Your Treatment
Treatment planning is a crucial step for any implant surgery. During your initial consultation with Dr. Hancock, he will take a cone beam CT scan of your jaw. This advanced technology captures thousands of images for an incredibly accurate representation of your oral anatomy.
Dr. Hancock will then use innovative computer software to determine the optimal location for your new implants, keeping a safe distance from the nerves and the sinuses. Combining your CT scan with digital impressions, Dr. Hancock can fabricate a guide for your implant surgery. This device highlights the specific points in the jaw where the implants should be placed, substantially reducing the risk of complications.
Implant-Supported Bridge Placement
The day of your surgery, Dr. Hancock will use the surgical guide to insert your implants into the jawbone. In most cases, this procedure generally takes about one hour. Following implant placement, patients require a few months of healing before the bridge can be attached. During this time, the jawbone tissue will fully integrate with the implants.
Once this process – known as osseointegration – is complete, Dr. Hancock can connect your implant-supported bridge to the posts. The result is a permanent restoration that looks and feels like your natural teeth.
Benefits of Implant-Supported Bridges
The advantages of implant-supported bridges are far-reaching. For example, these restorations can deliver:
- Improved oral health: Because dental implants mimic the micromovements of natural tooth roots, they actively preserve existing bone tissue and prevent bone degradation over time. In fact, dental implants are the only treatment that can stop jaw atrophy after tooth loss.
- Long-lasting results: With proper care and maintenance, dental implants can last a lifetime.
- Full function: Missing teeth can seriously hinder your chewing function and speech patterns. An implant-supported bridge can restore complete dental function.
- Enhanced confidence: Gaps in your smile can leave you feeling self-conscious and embarrassed. An implant-supported bridge can restore your confidence and allow you to smile, laugh, eat, and speak without worry.
While an implant-supported bridge requires a larger upfront investment, dental implants can protect the long-term health of your jaw, helping you avoid the need for a costly bone graft.
Learn More about Implant-Supported Bridges
If you have two or more consecutive missing teeth, an implant-supported bridge could be the solution for you. To explore your treatment options, call us at (615) 383-0132 or contact us online anytime.