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22 May 2023

Implant Bridges in Dental Restoration


An implant bridge is a dental restoration procedure used to replace a row of missing teeth. The bridge consists of artificial replacement teeth and is supported by a dental implant that is drilled into the jawbone. 

This offers a more sturdy alternative to traditional dentures that can start to loosen and move as time goes by. The bridge provides a natural look, helping to restore your smile.

A regular implant bridge may require as many as 8 to 10 dental implants to replace a full row of teeth. All-on-Four implants are a dental development that provides a solid implant bridge that requires just four supporting dental implants.

Why Opt for All-on-Four Implants?

All-on-Four implant bridges offer time and cost benefits when compared to regular implant-supported bridges. By only using four implants, there is less dental work involved. 

Indeed, this implant bridge technique is also termed ‘teeth in a day’ as they can be fitted in just a single day. This compares to traditional implant bridges which can take up to 6 months to complete, including a considerable amount of recovery time that accompanies each part of the procedure.

Less implants and less time in the dentist chair equates to lower costs too. While still not cheap, costing between £7,000 and £14,000 per jaw depending on the extent of work required, this still compares favourably to traditional implant bridges that can see you pay between £10,000 and £21,000.

Another reason All-on-four implants may be recommended is if you have suffered jaw bone loss from missing teeth. This can make you an unsuitable candidate for a dental implant unless you have a costly bone graft to help support the implant. 

With an All-on-Four implant solution, the two rear implants are fitted at an angle between 30 and 45 degrees.

Angling these rear implants provides additional strength which means someone who has experienced jawbone loss could now qualify for an implant bridge without needing a time-consuming and costly bone graft procedure first.

The Procedure for Fitting an Implant Bridge

Not everyone will be a suitable candidate for implant bridges. Good overall oral health, including healthy gums, is a prerequisite for an implant-supported bridge. As mentioned, a traditional bridge will also require good jawbone density. 

When a tooth has been missing for some time, jawbone can be lost. However, an All-on-Four implant may be placed in a jaw that has lost density and otherwise might not be able to support a traditional bridge.

If you need an additional tooth extracted, this will be carried out before having the implants fitted. The holes in the jawbone are then drilled to fit the implants. In the case of an All-on-Four solution, there are four holes drilled, the rear two at an angle of up to 45 degrees. Temporary dentures are fitted on the same day, which are replaced with the permanent ones a few months further down the road.

This contrasts with a traditional implant-supported bridge which can entail multiple visits over a period of 6 to 9 months. Regardless of which bridge is fitted, most dentists will use dissolvable stitches to patch up the incisions.

Aftercare

Implant bridges can be cleaned as you would your natural teeth, However, the introduction of a water flosser to your oral care routine is advantageous in thoroughly cleaning around the bridge.

You can expect some bruising and discomfort in the immediate aftermath of the procedure. You will be limited to eating softer foods for the first few months while the implants take hold. Your dentist will advise you on the appropriate aftercare for your bridge.

After 6 to 9 months you should be in a position to have your permanent over-dentures fitted, replacing the initial temporary ones. From thereon, it is about sticking to your oral care routine at home and maintaining regular dental appointments. With the right care, implant bridges can last for 10 to 15 years.

Are There Any Downsides?

Implant-supported bridges are considered a strong and stable dental restoration. Providing a natural appearance, the bridge helps restore your smile which in turn can boost self-confidence. However, there are a few pointers to consider if contemplating All-on-Four implants.

  • The gum bridge can feel bulky and take a little getting used to
  • Usually only available at private dental clinics and not on the NHS
  • Not a totally customized dental restoration solution
  • Some people report an issue with spitting or hissing when they talk
  • Traditional implants can provide better results for some people
  • A failure with one implant can create issues for the whole jaw

Again, talk to a qualified dentist who can evaluate the most suitable dental restoration solution for you. This is the time to raise any concerns you may have about implant bridges.

Dentures as an Alternative Dental Restoration Option

Traditional dentures have long been used as an alternative option to replace missing teeth. Suction or a dental adhesive secures the dentures to the gums. 

Customisable and removable, dentures are taken out in order to clean. However, if more bone is lost due to not having a supporting tooth root replacement like an implant, dentures can start to loosen. This may lead to discomfort as well as difficulties when chewing. Dentures will therefore need periodic replacement, although costing between £400 to £2,500, they remain the least costly option.

Final Thoughts

Replacing missing teeth can help boost your smile while preventing sagging of the face from lost jawbone density. At your initial consultation, your dentist can evaluate your suitability for an implant bridge. 

One such bridge is the All-on-Four implant, which requires fewer implants than traditional implant bridges. These can be fitted in a day with temporary dentures, representing significant time and cost savings. However, costing from £7,000, they are still a major investment, with dentures providing a traditional alternative for the more budget-conscious.

 

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