If you have never heard of the term All-On-4 dental implants, then consider yourself fortunate. It’s not that they bad, quite the contrary the are wonderful, but they are only for those who have lost most or all their teeth. Its difficult to image not having any teeth, but with the advent of All-On-4 dental implants, you will be the proud owners of pearly whites and a brand-new smile.
What exactly are All-On-4 implant supported dentures?
The somewhat unusual term refers to “all” the new teeth being supported by 4 dental implants. These 4 implants are the cornerstone of the dentures or bridge and in the end, will be what supports your new teeth. This is not an “invention” per se, but more of a procedure to replace most or all of your teeth. The teeth are supported by a denture or bridge, creating a long-lasting solution for tooth loss.
Who qualifies for All-On-four dental implants?
It’s hard to image not having any teeth or just a few remaining. With dental technology as sophisticated as it is, we would assume that total tooth loss is a condition of the past. Unfortunately, this is not the case and there are various reasons for a condition such as this. Disease, especially gum (periodontal) disease is one of the leading factors for total tooth loss. Certain illnesses can cause tooth loss, but gum disease is the biggest factor and in many cases, can cause health issues for the entire body.
The most common factor is poor dental hygiene which in simple terms means, not taking care of your teeth. From lack of brushing, consuming sugary fizzy drinks and sweets, as well as never flossing, can lead to periodontal disease, which will eventually cause tooth loss. Other reasons for tooth loss can be serious tooth decay, broken/cracked teeth, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Why replace your teeth?
The simple answer is that if you would like to eat and chew your food, then its recommended that you replace your lost teeth. In the case of requiring an All-On-4 implant, you’re at the point where it’s not just the case of a few missing teeth, but most or all of your teeth. Appearance is a big issue, but to provide your body with the proper nutrients, it is essential that you consume foods which you will need to chew, and of course enjoy. As we have seen with people with no teeth remaining, their facial structure suffers as well.
Benefits of the All-On-4 procedure
Apart from the above-mentioned content, here are just a few of the benefits of having the All-On-4 procedure.
- Reduces the need for a complex bone graft
- The procedure is quick compared to other types of implants
- Restoration of a Full Arch (Full Upper or Lower Arch replacement)
- Decreases and prevents bone loss
- Enables normal eating habits
- Less expensive than a piece meal approach to implants
- Restoration of facial features
Although the upfront expense might seem costly, you will have a permanent solution to a serious problem. Other procedures might seem less expensive in the short-term, but long-term health, convenience and cost are what makes the All-On-4 implant the best solution.
Risks or downsides to the All-On-4 implant
There are risks with any surgery and dental procedures, but in the case of All-On-4 implants and the advances in Dentistry, these are kept to a bare minimum. Here are some of the issues with All-On-4 implants.
- Minimal risk of failure of the implants, although many times the failure is due to the patient not following the proper procedure after the implants, such as smoking and drinking
- Staining and residue accumulation due to using plastics and acrylics instead of zirconia.
- Chewing and biting issues due to improper placement of the implants
Who would not be a good candidate for All-on-4 implants?
Before the procedure it is necessary to have a full physical exam to make sure that there are no underlying diseases that can cause complications. Paradoxically a disease which was the cause of your tooth loss and makes you a potential candidate for the procedure, could be the determining factor in not qualifying to be a candidate. In the case of diabetes, this could be the reason for your tooth loss, although it could also be the reason for not qualifying for the procedure. An uncontrolled diabetic condition could cause the failure of the implant procedure as well.
Although smoking may not completely disqualify you from having the procedure, if you are a habitual smoker and not able to kick the habit, chances the implants will not be successful, or at the minimum, create issues with your teeth. A healthy jawbone is necessary, as this is where the implants are permanently anchored, and some jawbone issues could cause complications.
What is the procedure for All-On-4 dentures?
In theory, it is quite simple as it requires a base of 4 implants which in turn support the dentures or bridge that constitute the rest of your teeth. The 4 implants are placed in the jaw (this explains the need for a healthy jawbone) although more than 4 implants may be required. The implants are placed in the back of the mouth on the upper jaw (maxilla) as well as the lower jaw (mandible). The denture or bridge on both the upper and lower jaw will consist of approximately 12 teeth for a total of 24. This is usually done within 24 hours of the implant surgery.
How long is the procedure and recovery time?
Before the procedure/surgery you will meet with the doctor and have a CAT scan, x-ray and photos of your mouth so that the doctor can establish the course of the procedure and work out any outstanding issues. This could include two visits, but one is the norm. As for the surgery, this usually happens in a day in which you arrive at the office in the morning and leave with new and healthy teeth in the afternoon.
Recovery time is minimal and some patients go back to their daily routine, such as work, the very same day. As with any surgery and with anesthesia being involved, it is recommended that you take a few days to relax and let the implants heal. Many times surgery of any kind will prove unsuccessful because patients to not heed the doctor’s advice and warnings on post-op recovery issues.
How will I look after the procedure?
There might be some swelling initially but after a few days you will look as if you have a natural set of beautiful teeth. The transformation is incredible as you will be able to smile with confidence and live the life you’ve always wanted!