If you’re missing several teeth, multiple tooth dental implants can replace them as well as some of their roots.

What are the advantages of implant-supported bridges over fixed bridges or removable partial dentures?

Multiple tooth implants provide several advantages over fixed bridges and removable partial dentures. In addition to looking and functioning like natural teeth, multiple tooth dental implants replace teeth without support from adjacent natural teeth. Other common treatments for the loss of several teeth, such as fixed bridges or removable partial dentures, are dependent on support from adjacent teeth.

Another big advantage is that multiple tooth dental implants don’t require the time-consuming maintenance associated with removable partial dentures, which should be removed and cleaned after eating and soaked overnight. Instead, multiple tooth dental implants need only be cared for with the same daily brushing and flossing routines that are recommended for natural teeth.

In addition, because multiple tooth dental implants will replace some of your tooth roots, your bone will be better preserved. Dental implants integrate with your jawbone, helping to keep the bone healthy and your natural smile intact. In contrast, with a fixed bridge or removable partial denture:

  • The bone that previously surrounded the tooth root may begin to deteriorate. This can lead to recession of the jawbone and a collapsed, unattractive smile.
  • Gums and bone can recede around a fixed bridge or removable partial denture and leave a visible defect.
  • The cement holding bridges in place can wash out, allowing bacteria to decay teeth that anchor the bridge.
  • Removable partial dentures can move around in the mouth and reduce your ability to eat certain foods.

In short, multiple tooth dental implants are more natural-looking, functional, decay-resistant and comfortable than a fixed bridge or removable partial denture.

How will the implants be placed?

There are three components to an implant-supported bridge:

  • The implants, which look like screws or cylinders and are placed into your jaw.
  • The prosthetic (artificial) teeth, which look and function like healthy, natural teeth.
  • The abutments that are inserted into the implants and allow the new teeth to connect to the implants.

The first step of the procedure is usually to use a scalpel to create and peel back two gum flaps to expose the underlying jawbone. (In some cases it may be possible to access the jawbone through a small circular incision rather than by raising tissue flaps.) A hole will then be drilled into the jawbone to make room for the implant, and the implant will be inserted. This process will be repeated for all of the implants. It may be possible for temporary teeth to be worn over the implant sites. If not, a temporary healing cap will be screwed into the top of each implant to seal off the implant’s interior from the surrounding oral environment. The two flaps of gum tissue will then be trimmed, shaped and repositioned back over the jawbone and around the implant’s healing cap. A few sutures will be placed to hold the gum tissue in place; the sutures will be removed in seven to ten days.

During the following two to six months, the implants and the bone will be allowed to bond together to form anchors for your new teeth. It will then be time to uncover the implants, remove the temporary healing caps (or the temporary teeth) and attach the abutments. Your gums will be allowed to heal for a couple of weeks following this procedure.

Finally, the bridge created to replicate your natural teeth will be attached to the abutments. After a short time, you will experience restored confidence in your smile and your ability to chew and speak normally.