In a situation where several teeth are missing, a dentist can recommend that you get fixed implant bridges. A fixed implant bridge will preserve the jawbone, maintain function, as well as restore your beauty. However, all these can only be achieved if you have an experienced dentist working together with a skilled oral surgeon to handle your case.

Our dentists at the Northridge Implant Center use advanced equipment and experience to offer excellent dental implant services. Every patient is treated with the maximum level of accuracy and friendliness, which yields the best possible outcome. If you have missing teeth, reach out to us to schedule a consultation and find out whether or not fixed implant bridges are the right option for you.

What are Fixed Implant Bridges?

Fixed implant bridges use dental implants instead of frameworks or crowns. Generally, dental implants are inserted through a surgical procedure in your jawbone as the foundation. Then later, tooth-like porcelain restorations (non-removable bridges) are fixed onto the implants to replace the missing teeth. In many situations, when implant bridges are used, a single implant is inserted in the jawbone for each missing tooth. After that, several crowns get attached to create one piece (a bridge).

Apart from preserving your jawbone and surrounding teeth, non-removable implant bridges can also help maintain your smile as well as prevent any future dental problems. When you have missing teeth, fixed implant bridges have proven to be the best option for dental restorations.

Fixed implant bridges differ from removable implant bridges. The difference is that a removable implant bridge is meant to be attached to the neighboring teeth, and you can take it out to clean. Fixed bridges, on the other hand, are made to be attached to the dental implants to provide a permanent, stress-free solution that acts and looks like your original teeth.

Considered the most stable and most reliable system, placing a fixed implant bridge usually needs two surgeries:

  • The first surgery is to insert the implants in the jaw

  • The second one is to attach the bridge

These procedures can take several months for them to be entirely finished. A fixed implant bridge is the same as an ordinary dental bridge. However, an implant bridge is supported by implants, not by your original teeth.

When to Use Fixed Implant Bridges

You can use fixed implant bridges when you have more than a tooth missing. Also, you could use it when the dentist advises that you may put so much force on separate implants that aren’t connected. For instance, grinding or clenching your teeth may put much pressure on unconnected implants. This may elevate the chances of them loosening from the jawbone and failing. An implant bridge lowers the stress on implants in the jawbone by spreading it all through the whole implant bridge.

In case the implants are placed adjacent to the natural teeth, these teeth and the surrounding gums have to be in better health. In case you do not have adequate bone on which to fix the implants or one that can support them, the supporting jawbone could be strengthened using grafting or bone augmentation before the real implant procedure starts.

How It Works

In particular instances, your dentist might not want to place an implant bridge in a given location in a patient’s mouth. This is because there might not be sufficient bone to support the implant, or that place may be closer to a sinus cavity or nerve. In this case, the dentist may avoid this area by putting the implants on either side of that space. Then, a dental bridge is put on top. Also, implant bridges could be made to look similar to traditional bridges, with a crown placed in-between two implant-supported bridges.

A fixed implant bridge is composed of:

The implant itself- This is made up of titanium. Your dentist fixes it through surgery in your jawbone. You might have a single implant for every tooth that’s missing. In other cases, the dentist could skip a single or several spaces because there is not adequate jawbone. The spaces could also be skipped because they are neighboring a sinus cavity or nerve.

The abutment- Abutment is cylinder-like and can be made of gold, porcelain, or titanium. It’s attached to the implant. Before, abutments were fixed on the implant with cement. Nowadays, they are fused using screws. An abutment can be custom-made or prefabricated in a dental lab.

The restoration- This is the resembling natural teeth. It’s a sequence of crowns joined together to create a bridge. These restorations are porcelain-made and are attached and integrated with a metal structure.

The Implant Procedure

The period it will take to finish the implant procedure depends on several factors. If the implant placement is done using the traditional process, the shortest timeframe it can take is approximately seven months when it’s the upper jawbone and five months for the lower jawbone. This period is inclusive of surgeries as well as the placing of the fixed implant bridge. But, the procedure may last one year or even more, especially if there is a need for building up bone first. Recently, most dentists have successfully been doing the placement of an implant plus the crown in one visit.

Usually, two surgeries are needed for the placement and preparation of the implant. In the initial surgical procedure, the implant will be fixed into the jawbone and then covered using gum tissue. After this, the dentist waits between three and six months. When this period ends, a second surgical procedure will be done. This procedure is carried out to uncover the implant to enable the placement of the bridge.

  • Initial consultation

You will have to visit a prosthodontist or general dentist before any procedure is conducted. This is because these two are highly trained in matters of restoration and placement of implants. The dentist will perform a detailed examination. He/she will analyze your dental and medical history, take x-ray pictures, and build impressions of the gums and teeth so models may be created. In other situations, the dentist might order a CT (Computed Tomography) scan of a patient’s mouth. This scan will reveal where the nerves and sinuses are. If the dentist knows where they are, he/she will ensure the implants won’t affect them.

Also, you may undergo a Computed Tomography scan in case your dentist isn’t sure of the amount of bone available to support the implants and hold them in position. People who are missing two or more teeth are most likely to experience lost bone. Thus, these scans are quite common in multiple-implant surgeries compared to single-implant surgical procedures.

If the CT scans and X-rays indicate that your jawbone doesn’t have adequate bone to support an implant, your dentist may discuss alternative options with you. They include bone augmentation or grafting to build up sufficient bone amount. The bone may be extracted from your chin, hip, or mouth. Or, cow bone or processed cadaver bone may also be utilized. If your dentist recommends that you should undergo any of these processes, it’ll take approximately four months for your jawbone to heal so you can undergo the implant.

  • Implant placement- the first surgery

The first surgery takes one month to complete in case bone grafting isn’t necessary, and five months in case you need to undergo bone grafting. After your dentist has established that you’ve sufficient bone that can support an implant, you’ll schedule the initial surgery. This procedure involves the placement of the implant/implants in the jawbone. Usually, an oral surgeon or a periodontist performs this process. He/she uses a surgical guide prepared by your general dentist or prosthodontist. Your dentist plans the implant placement procedure carefully to ensure their positioning permits your new bridges to appear natural.

For your dentist to know where he/she will place the implants, he/she dentist will create a model (wax-up) of the bridge’s appearance when it’s completed. For him/her to achieve this, he/she utilizes your mouth’s model, which is usually created from impressions extracted from your jaw and teeth. The dentist will then use his/her created wax-up to come up with a surgical guide, which is a clear plastic piece, the same as a mouth-guard. This wax-up fits over the existing teeth and then extends to the place where you have missing teeth to indicate where implants should be placed.

Once the initial surgery is over, your oral surgeon will wait for a given period before he/she can schedule a second surgery. If he/she performed the surgical procedure on the lower jawbone, he/she would wait between three and four months. And if it was done on the upper bone, he/she will wait between five and six months. In the course of this waiting period, the implants and the bone fuse to each other.

Implants come in several types. The most commonly used is the root-form implant. It is designed to function as a tooth root. It’s put in the jaw in the precise space that a missing tooth creates.

  • Second surgery

A second surgery takes the following periods to complete:

  • Four or five months for the lower jaw when bone grafting isn’t necessary

  • Six or seven months for the upper jaw if bone grafting is not required

  • Eight or nine months for the lower jaw when there is bone grafting

  • Ten or eleven months for the upper jaw when there is bone grafting

After the bones and implants have fused, your dentist can schedule for you to undergo a second surgical procedure. First, he/she will confirm if the implants can stand this second procedure by performing x-rays. The second surgical process is more straightforward compared to the first one. The oral surgeon makes a slight incision in the gums to uncover the implant heads (tops).

A collar (healing cap) is then put on the implant head after it’s exposed. The healing cap guides the patient’s gums to heal properly. A collar refers to a round metal piece that supports the gums and holds them away from the implant head. The collar stays in place up to the time the surgeon will insert a temporary bridge.

The restorative stage

There are several types of non-removable implant bridges. Others could be attached to the jaw using screws or by cement. Also, others can be fixed directly to an abutment or the implant. It is your dentist that will decide what type will be ideal for you.

Should the dentist uses a screw-held bridge, the first stage is to detach the collar then screw a non-removable abutment in the implant. With an abutment in position, an impression is made. Abutment’s shape is like that of an original tooth that’s been cut to fit in a crown.

During the second visit, the dentist places a temporary bridge onto the abutment. The bridge will remain in position for a period ranging between four and eight weeks. Temporary bridges are created from softer materials compared to permanent ones. This material assists in cushioning and protecting the implants from the force of a patient’s chewing.

In the third visit, the dentist tests if the metal frame that holds the porcelain bridge fits. If it does not fit correctly, the dentist must have time to adjust to it, and you’ll have to go back for another fitting. It may take numerous visits before you get the fit right. In case the teeth aren’t connected, the dentist tries each tooth. If the metal frame fits correctly, the remaining part of the bridge is completed, then placed in the mouth and secured.

How to Care for Fixed Implant Bridges

You’ll be capable of cleaning the region between the bridge and the gum. Your dentist might suggest a special kind of small brush or floss for this form of cleaning. Or, you could treat the bridges like you do the natural teeth. Reach out to your dentist should you have a problem with your fixed implant bridges. The dentist may want you to visit once six months elapsed for a checkup. If your dentist conducts an x-ray during the checkup, you should be capable of seeing the implants attached to the bone. You should also view the dental bridge.

What to Expect from Fixed Implant Bridges

Fixed implant bridges feel more comfortable and secure compared to removable partial dentures, which rest on your gums. With fixed implant bridges installed in your mouth, you should be capable of chewing regular food comfortably. Also, a fixed implant bridge resembles the natural tooth it’s replacing.

Possible Complications

Apart from the dangers of undergoing surgical procedures and the likelihood of an implant failing, screws could loosen or break. Crowns may also come loose or break.

The Advantages of Fixed Implant Bridges

Fixed implant bridges have several benefits. They include

  • They provide a lasting solution that maintains the shape of the surrounding teeth.

  • These bridges feel, function, and look like a person’s natural teeth

  • They have a stable structure that can stand the pressure of a person’s usual biting & chewing

  • They restore normal talking, smiling, and eating without one worrying about their dental prosthetic falling out or loosening

  • They preserve bones

  • Fixed implant bridges are a dental treatment option that’s usually less expensive compared to replacing each tooth with an implant

What’s the Cost of a Fixed Implant Bridge?

The cost varies significantly based on the region, type of implant, doctor’s training, kind of material used for the final restoration, and the number of implants. For fixed implant bridges, they can range between $2500 and $6500 for every tooth that’s replaced. For instance, a three-unit fixed implant bridge will cost between $12000 and $16000.

Types of Fixed Implant Bridges

There are three types of fixed implant bridges. These are:

  • Fixed hybrid implant bridge

Fixed hybrid Implant Bridge is the most commonly used non-removable implant bridge replacement for the lower or upper jaw. Your dentist will install six to eight implants on every jaw to hold the non-removable bridges. Most dentists prefer fixed hybrid bridges because they’re stable and reliable. You can be capable of balancing the pressure of biting or chewing by identifying an ideal location to place the implants in the entire mouth.

The word ‘hybrid’ means a combination of light materials used to make the dental bridge. The pontic is made of three dental materials:

  • Metal frame- Made from quality titanium or metal alloy

  • Fake gums- Made from quality composite or acrylic

  • False teeth- These are from composite teeth or resin

The combination of the three materials makes the teeth replacement durable. Also, they’re flexible enough that they won’t break. Additionally, you will not have thick gums and the palate like those for denture implants. The materials are also light enough to prevent bone loss.

  • All on four dental implants

‘All on four dental implants’ is the most common name in the available options of tooth implant replacement. Here, your dentist will place four tooth implants in the front part of your jaw. Two of these four implants are positioned in an appropriate angle to support the non-removable bridge. Other names to refer to all on four dental implants include:

  • Immediate load dental implants

  • Teeth in one day/teeth in a day

  • All on six tooth implants (in case six implants are used on every jaw)

Using these implants is the fastest way to have a full set of bridges attached to the implants. If you are in good condition, the dentist may do all these in a single day:

  • Extract your teeth

  • Place implants

  • Fix a temporary bridge on those implants.

The dental bridges in this type of fixed implant bridges are of similar material as those of fixed hybrid bridges. That is, the framework is metal, false teeth are made from acrylic, composite, or resin, and fake gums are acrylic.

All on four dental implants could be the best option for you if:

  • You do not have enough bone in the molar area

Before undergoing the procedure to place a fixed implant bridge, you might need a sinus lift or bone grafting if you do not have adequate bone to hold tooth implants. Your dentist could prevent this by putting tooth implants in the front jawbone only.

  • You have enough bone in the front jaw

You must have sufficient bone in the front jawbone to hold all on four implants. However, if you do not, your dentist may recommend that you go for fixed hybrid bridges.

  • You cannot bear wearing temporary dentures

If you opt for zirconia fixed bridges or hybrid fixed bridges, you will need to put on temporary dentures. Ordinary tooth implants need three to four months for the gums to heal completely before the non-removable bridge is attached. This allows the implants adequate time to fuse with the jawbone. With all on four dental implants, two of the four implants are angled strategically to hold the temporary denture. This means you will walk out of surgery with your teeth secured, all in a single day.

  • Fixed Zirconia Bridge

Fixed Zirconia Bridge is the most expensive compared to the other fixed implant bridges. This is because of its material (zirconia). This material makes up for the whole framework of the bridge. It has diamond-like properties. Apart from being the most expensive, these types of implant bridges are also the most biocompatible compared to the other types. This because they do not have micro-pores like the ones you can find in acrylic.

Find a Northridge Dentist Near Me Specialized in Fixed Implant Bridges

Missing or decaying teeth may affect your appearance, the ability to bite and chew particular foods, and your quality of life. Fixed implant bridges may help restore your smile and bite. These bridges have their advantages as well as disadvantages. Therefore, before you choose this treatment option, you have to discuss its benefits and drawbacks in detail with an experienced dentist before you commit to any given procedure. If you are in the Northridge area of California and have a dental problem, you can talk to one of the dentists at Northridge Dental Implant Center about it. If your preferred treatment option is fixed implant bridges, the dentist will examine you and advise if it’s the best choice. If it isn’t, the dentist will select for you the best possible choice among the several treatment options we have at our offices. Call us at 818-925-9181 for the best dental advice and treatment you can get.