Losing teeth can be demoralizing with the changes to your face and smile. Other changes you might not be aware of include loss of gum tissue and shifting of other teeth in the mouth. These losses can affect your dental health and confidence.
You can choose from various tooth replacement options, including fixed dental implants. These implants are the perfect choice when you have several missing teeth. While you could choose options such as dentures, fixed dental implants provide the functionality and stability of your natural teeth. Encino Dental Implant helps in restoring your teeth using fixed dental bridges.
Overview and Definition of Fixed Implant Bridges
By the time they are 50, the average American has lost at least 12 permanent teeth. The leading cause of tooth loss among adults is tooth decay. Other causes include gum disease and physical trauma to the teeth.
Tooth loss can have several negative effects, including:
- Shifting teeth
- Reduced confidence and self-esteem
- Problems when chewing
- Difficulties with speech
- Lost support for facial structures
Fortunately, you have several tooth replacement options from which to choose. The option you choose will depend on several factors, including the number of teeth you are replacing and your budget.
Implants are an ideal solution for single tooth replacement, especially if you have sufficient bone tissue to support them. However, if you lose more than one tooth, it would be expensive to replace these teeth with single implants.
In such a case, you would rush for traditional dental bridges or dentures. However, you can opt for a more permanent option – implant-supported bridges.
From the name, you can tell that these bridges rest on implants. The implants serve as supportive pillars (or roots) for the attachment of fixed or removable bridges (overdentures).
Non-removable dental bridges are those that attach to implants permanently. Your dentist will usually create a dental bridge with custom abutments and place an implant as the permanent root.
Fixed implant bridges are a great solution for people with several missing teeth. They also benefit you by supporting your facial structure. When you chew, the action of the teeth on your bone leads to bone growth.
Without the teeth, the bone deteriorates over time, leading to facial collapse. Facial collapse occurs due to the resorption of the jawbone. It is common if you lose teeth and delay the replacement with implants, or are using dentures.
When your face collapses, you appear older than you really are. This is because your lower jaw loses so much bone such that you appear as if you have a sunken chin. And that is not all; losing the jawbone will ultimately affect your ability to chew.
Fortunately, you can reverse the effects of lost teeth using fixed dental bridges. The dentist will first restore your jawbone by grafting bone materials. These materials will then trigger the regrowth of your jawbone.
Fixed implant bridges differ from removable dental bridges in that you can remove the latter for cleaning or when sleeping. Fixed implant bridges do not require special cleaning, as they are similar to natural teeth.
Traditional dental bridges are attached to two natural teeth. The dentist will first shape the teeth to fit in the crowns. The shaping process means your natural teeth are damaged and are at a higher risk of decay and cavities.
However, a fixed implant bridge spares your natural teeth by using implants to support the bridge. The placement of the implant does not affect the position or health of the neighboring teeth. Therefore, you can retain the healthy teeth you have.
The implants are placed in strategic positions inside your mouth. The choice of the exact location will be based on providing stability and preventing too much pressure on one implant.
Fixed dental bridges are the closest thing to natural teeth you can get. The implants provide stability similar to that of your natural roots.
Fixed dental implants have several features, including:
- An implant: the implant serves as the root of the tooth. It is inserted through a dental implant surgery into your jawbone. The placement of the implant will depend on the health of your jawbone and proximity to the sinus cavity and nerves. Implants are made from titanium.
- An abutment, which is screwed onto the implant to provide support to the crown. The abutment can be made of gold, titanium, or porcelain.
- The bridge: a dental bridge consists of connected crowns that look like teeth. They are usually made from porcelain and will be attached to the abutment. The bridge can be made from different materials such as porcelain, gold alloy, porcelain fused to a gold alloy and zirconia metal oxide.
They come with several benefits, including:
- They offer a permanent solution
- They maintain the structure of the surrounding teeth (other bridges require that the supporting teeth be trimmed to fit the crown)
- They are strong and stable which offers great support for chewing
- They restore normal functions such as eating, talking and smiling
- They protect your jaw from bone loss
- They are less expensive compared to individual implants
If you have lost your teeth, or your teeth are damaged, you need to consult with a dentist. Your dentist will help you determine whether a fixed implant bridge is the best option for you.
The evaluation will include an examination of the health of your gums and teeth. Your dentist will also conduct imaging tests to examine the depth of gum. The imaging tests will also help your dentist locate the position of the sinus cavity and nerves.
Your dentist will also review your medical history. He or she might also take impressions of your teeth for custom-made bridges.
The results from your dental exam will provide the way forward. Your dentist could advise against an implant, or take steps to prepare your gum for the implant surgery. Here are a few reasons an implant might not be the right choice for you:
- You currently have a gum problem (attaching an implant to an unhealthy gum will lead to implant failure)
- You have insufficient jaw bone tissue. Therefore, the jaw cannot fully support the implant
- You have medical conditions such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis which increase the risk of dental failure
- You are smoking (cannot quit smoking): smoking affects the health of your oral tissues. It causes dry mouth and recession of the gum tissue. Smoking also increases the risk of infection in the mouth; therefore, if you are smoking or cannot stop smoking, you have an increased risk of implant failure.
The cost of fixed implant bridges varies depending on factors such as:
- The materials used in creating the implant, abutment, and crowns
- The cost of constructing the bridge
- The experience of the dentist and his or her location
- The number of teeth to replace
- The number of implants used
While implant-supported bridges are more costly, they tend to last longer than other types of dental bridges. They are also stronger and less likely to cause damage to neighboring teeth.
Preparation of a Fixed Implant Bridge
The dental bridge is usually prepared separately from the implant. It consists of two or more crowns attached together to form a bridge. The size of the bridge will depend on the number of lost teeth.
During the initial consultation, the dentist will take an impression of your teeth and jaw. This impression helps him or her when constructing a bridge that matches your natural teeth. Before creating the final model, the dentist will create a wax-up of what the bridge should look like when complete.
Usually, the design of the implant bridge will determine its success in the long term. Your dentist must consider the pressure you will apply on the implant bridge over time.
Most dentists, therefore, prefer making stents to guide them on the best position of the implant. They prepare these stents after taking detailed CT scans of your jaw and use CAD/CAM software to guide the preparation of the stents.
The dentist must prepare the bridge in a way that the number of crowns on the bridge will not apply too much pressure on the implants. The fixed implant bridge must provide sufficient support and stability as that of natural teeth.
The size of the crown must also match the size of the root; that is, the two must have a balanced crown-to-root ratio to prevent implant failure.
Insertion of the Fixed Implant Bridge
Inserting a fixed implant bridges takes several months to complete. The exact period will depend on the health of your gum and additional procedures. The upper jaw also takes longer to heal compared to the lower jaw.
The first step in the process involves the initial consultation, where the dentist evaluates your dental health. The second step involves the removal of any loose or damaged teeth.
The next procedure will depend on your situation. If you have insufficient bone tissue, the dentist will perform a bone grafting procedure.
Bone grafting is one of the procedures that lengthen the recovery period during the implant process. The procedure involves adding bone tissue from another part of your body or using artificial materials.
Some of the common sources of bone grafting materials include the chin, ramus, hip, and shin bone. The hip is the most preferred source of bone tissue.
An alternative to bone grafting is a sinus lift. The goal of the procedure is to increase the height of the upper jaw. A sinus lift is done on the maxillary sinus if you do not have sufficient jawbone to support an implant.
Sometimes, the jaw lacks enough width to support the implant. In such a case, the dentist will perform a ridge expansion procedure.
Regardless of the procedure, you have to wait several weeks to months as the bone tissue develops.
Once you develop sufficient bone tissue, the dentist will insert the implants to provide a stable foundation for the bridge. Your dentist can also attach the bridge during the implant surgery, or you could come back for the bridge placement later.
The dentist will place the implant in or above the jaw in the gum, depending on the implant type. He or she will screw the implant into place.
Once inserted, the implant will take five to seven months to heal for the lower and upper jaw, respectively. Meanwhile, the dentist can place a temporary bridge over the implants.
After your implant heals, you have another appointment to place in the abutment. The abutment provides the support for the crown. In a traditional dental bridge, the abutment would be made by filing and shaping two healthy teeth. The abutment will provide the anchor for the crown.
The abutment takes about two weeks to heal. You will then return for the placement of the crown.
Preparing for Surgery and Recovery
The dentist will insert the dental implant bridge through dental implant surgery. As mentioned in the previous section, the process happens in different stages until, finally, the dentist places the bridge.
You can prepare for the procedure by:
- Stocking up food for the recovery period: plan for soft foods, which will not place extra pressure on the implant. Include foods that are nutritious and easy to swallow.
- Notify the dentist about any medication or treatment you are currently taking. Some medications and treatments can interfere with the success of the implant. You might, therefore, need to cease medication or reschedule the procedure.
- Rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash
- Avoid eating at least 12 hours before the surgery
The recovery process takes different periods for different stages of the implant procedure. After each procedure, you might experience several symptoms, such as:
- Minor bleeding
- Swollen gums
- Bruised skin
These symptoms improve within a few days. Most dentists will give you antibiotics and painkillers to deal with these symptoms. The dentist will also schedule several appointments during the recovery process.
Make sure you attend these appointments. Finally, notify the dentist if you experience the following symptoms:
- A fever that gets worse
- Severe bleeding
- Swelling that becomes worse
- Worsening pain
These symptoms could be an indication of a serious problem, which, if not treated early, could lead to serious problems or implant failure.
Caring for Fixed Implant Bridges
The care needed for fixed implant bridges is similar to that of natural teeth. Therefore, you have to establish a healthy dental routine to protect your teeth and the area around the implant.
Some of the healthy practices you can engage in to care for your bridges include:
- Thoroughly clean your teeth at least twice a day. You can get an interdental toothbrush to make cleaning more efficient. An interdental brush can reach the area beneath the bridge to remove any food remains.
- Visit your dentist regularly for monitoring of your oral health
- Avoid chewing hard items, smoking and caffeine products
Make sure that you visit the dentist at least every six months to check on your recovery progress. Your dentist will check your gum for healing and determine whether additional problems are arising.
You can help the recovery process by changing your diet and other lifestyle habits. These changes could include:
- Eating soft foods to reduce the pressure on your bridges
- Using a soft brush to avoid irritating the gum
- Rinsing your mouth with salt water thrice a day
- Avoiding alcohol and smoking
- Engaging in light exercises
Even with the best care practices, some people will experience complications from their implants. These complications arise during or after the implant surgery procedure. Heavy bleeding or nerve damage commonly occurs during the surgery. Complications that occur after the procedure include peri-implantitis and implant failure.
Implant failure occurs in up to 10% of patients who receive implants for single or multiple teeth replacements. The failure can happen immediately or years after you have had the implant.
Early implant failure arises due to complications during the implant surgery procedure. This complication arises within the first three to four months. It could manifest in different conditions, such as:
- infection at the site of the implant which is caused by smoking, poor oral hygiene and weakened immunity
- Micro movements of the implant, especially with bridges that are installed immediately after the placement of the implant. The best time to place the bridge is after the implant integrates with the bone. The process happens over several months, during which your doctor will encourage a soft-food diet to avoid putting pressure on the implant.
- The implant fails to fuse with the jawbone which is common where the patient has insufficient bone
- Allergic reactions for people who have titanium allergies
- Failing to follow your dentist’s instructions on caring for the implant as it heals
Sometimes, implant failure takes several years to manifest. It can arise in someone who had a successful procedure. The common late-onset implant complications include:
- Damage to the nerves near the implant: the problem arises when the implant is too close to a nerve. The condition presents symptoms such as tingling and numbness of the mouth or face.
- Your body might reject the implant as a foreign body leading to pain at the implant site, swelling and fever
- Protrusion of the implant into the sinus cavity
- Dental trauma
You should see your dentist immediately if you notice the signs of implant failure. These include:
- Difficulties when chewing
- Inflammation of the gum
- Receding gums
- Loosening of the implant
- Pain and discomfort
You can prevent the risk of implant failure by visit an experienced dentist. Such a dentist will evaluate your oral health to determine whether you are the right candidate for an implant-supported bridge.
Peri-implantitis is a serious condition that causes implant failure. The condition causes inflammation to the soft and hard tissues surrounding the implant.
Implants cannot deteriorate like natural teeth. However, the bone can be lost, or the surrounding tissues deteriorate. The factors that increase the risks of developing peri-implantitis include:
- Gum diseases
The symptoms of the condition include:
- Bone loss around the implant
- Swelling and redness of the mucosa
- Pain around the implant
- A movable implant
- Bleeding gum
Not all patients with the condition will have similar symptoms. Therefore, you must maintain a regular dental checkup routine to catch the condition early.
What If I Do Not Qualify For Fixed Implant Bridges
Sometimes, you might not be the right candidate for dental implants. However, if you are set on having dental implant bridges, you can increase your odds of qualifying for the bridge. Some of the things you can do include:
- Resolve any oral health issues you have: poor oral health practices such as smoking contributes to the loss of bone tissue. Your tooth roots are also exposed to bacteria, increasing the risk that they will decay. Another problem with smoking is that it dries your mouth, thus reducing the amount of blood reaching the tissues. Therefore, if you need a good excuse to stop smoking, then placing an implant bridge should be enough.
- Have your dentist graft bone into your jaw. As discussed earlier, one of the requirements before placing a fixed implant bridge is sufficient bone tissue.
- Explore other options such as dentures or dental bridges
Fix Your Implant Bridges Today
A toothless smile looks adorable on an infant. But, sporting the same as an adult can be demoralizing. Teeth play important functional and aesthetic roles. They contribute to proper digestion and support of facial muscles. They also prevent the deterioration of the jawbone.
Teeth replacement options have increased with modern technology to include fixed implant bridges. These bridges offer the affordability of traditional dental bridges with the firm support of dental implants and are similar to natural teeth.
The Encino Dental Implant specializes in providing implant treatment if you lose your teeth. We evaluate your oral health and additional factors to determine the best treatment for replacing lost teeth. We also love to hear your preferences so that we can offer a treatment that meets your needs and preferences.
If you are considering a fixed implant bridge, contact us today at 818-810-7535.