The Dental Implant-Supported Bridge Procedure
The treatment plan for an implant-supported bridge usually consists of four steps and can take five months to over a year, depending on where the implants are located and the health of your jawbone.
Step 1: Initial Consultation
Before any work is started, you will visit a prosthodontist or general dentist with advanced training in restoration and replacement of teeth for an initial consultation. There you'll receive a comprehensive exam, which includes looking into your dental and medical history, creating an impression of your gums and teeth, completing X-rays, and sometimes taking a computed tomography (CT) scan of your mouth to locate your nerves and sinuses.
If the X-ray shows your jawbone is lacking enough bone to receive an implant, you may be given the option for bone grafting or augmentation. With this procedure, it may take an additional four months or more before your jaw is strong enough and ready for implants.
Step 2: Dental Implant Placement
Your first of two surgeries will involve placing the implant fixtures into your jawbone. This procedure could be performed by an oral surgeon, periodontist, prosthodontist or dentist with additional training in implant placements.
Once the screw-like fixtures are surgically placed, osseointegration occurs, where your jawbone grows around the implant to hold it in place. This process can take three to six months before you're ready for the next step.
Step 3: Healing Caps
The second surgery requires making a small incision in your gums to expose the top of the implant fixture. Healing caps are attached to the fixture to expose the implant and guide the gums to heal correctly. The healing process can take several weeks. Some one-stage implant systems come with the extension already attached and do not require this second surgery. Your periodontist or oral surgeon can recommend the best system for you.
Step 4: Restoration
Finally, your dentist or prosthodontist will custom-make a bridge to look like your natural teeth. First, they will remove the healing cap and take a new impression to help fabricate the permanent abutment and bridge. Once it's completed, the final abutment and bridge will be placed in your mouth and secured.