With a couple teeth missing, you can always go for a bridge or an implant. But what happens when most or all your teeth are gone? Bridges/implants might not be possible and this could be cause for frustration, lack of confidence, and several other health issues. There are so many questions: How will this affect my health? How will I eat? Will people laugh at me for looking funny? Will I need dentures? Should you ever find yourself in that unfortunate situation, there’s hope.
What are All-on-4 Dental Implants?
All-on-4 implants are 4 fixed implants embedded in the patient's jaw so they can stably hold up the set of replacement teeth in place. These are a type of implant-supported dentures where all teeth are supported on four dental implants, and are a life-saver for edentulous patients- those with no teeth, or those with broken, decayed, or teeth compromised by periodontal disease or bone atrophy and resorption.
For people who are put off by dentures because they will be inconvenient and feel unnatural, the all-on-4 implants are a great option.
Together, the four implants support a fixed prosthesis with 10-14 teeth. This is a prosthodontic procedure where you can get your entire upper and/or lower set of teeth replaced. It takes about 2.5 hours per arch and has a 98% success rate. The implantologist will usually fix two implants vertically near the front of the mouth and two at the back in the molar area, at an angle to provide greater stability.
Who Should Go for All-on-4?
This is the best option for you if:
- You’ve lost all your teeth (or all your upper or lower teeth)
- Most or all of your teeth are broken, decayed, or affected by gum disease.
- You can't get conventional implants because of the bone loss in your jaw.
Are All-on-4 for Me?
You’re an ideal candidate for all-on-4 implants if:
- Most or all your teeth are missing
- You’re wearing dentures
- You don’t have major health issues
Age isn’t a factor.
Some Things to Consider
The all-on-4 procedure is irreversible. So there are some aspects of all-on-4 implants you might want to consider before reaching a final decision.
- Speech Issues- The denture will be bulkier than actual teeth. This can cause speech problems and difficulty pronouncing letters such as "D", “N”, "T", or “S”. This will take practice, but can be overcome with effort. If your job relies heavily on speech, like that of an anchor or an actor, you might want to reconsider.
- Psychologically adapting to the bulk- After getting all-on-4 implants, you may find it difficult or uncomfortable to adjust to the feel of the bulk. Without the denture, you feel your soft tissue and your teeth. With the denture, you'll also start feeling the prosthetic material. If this isn't for you, you could consider going for other options.
- Proprioception- Proprioception is the perception or being aware of the position and movement of the body. With all-on-4 implants, you may not realize how much force you're applying on your teeth. Excessive biting forces can lead to fractures of the restoration or bone loss.
- Parafunction- If you're habitual of aggressively performing bruxism (grinding your teeth) or clenching, you might be better off with a bar-supported overdenture to avoid putting excessive pressure on the implants. Overdentures are an all-on-4 procedure, but you can remove them at night to replace them with a flat-paned night guard that affixes to the bar.
- High caries index- A person with caries may be better off with an all-on-4 bar overdenture as he risks losing any remaining teeth to decay.
Benefits of All-on-4 Implants
All-on-4 implants have the following benefits:
- You get fully-functioning new teeth in as little as one day
- It preserves the jawbone and prevents further deterioration of the facial structure, reducing years off your face. It also decreases wrinkles.
- You get to eat what you want.
- It gives you a long-lasting smile that you don't have to remove to clean.
- Losing teeth can bring on many health problems from periodontal disease to heart attacks and diabetes. The all-on-4 implants eliminate these future health issues.
- These implants are easy to care for with daily brushing and flossing along with regular visits to the dentist.
- It looks natural and will save you the embarrassment of smiling without teeth, giving you greater confidence.
- It will allow you to taste food better.
All-on-4 over Conventional Implants
Here’s how all-on-4 is beneficial over traditional implant procedures:
- It prevents bone resorption.
- It is cheaper in the longer run.
- It heals faster because there’s no need for a bone graft.
- It has highly successful outcomes.
- You get fully-functioning new teeth in as little as one day.
- It is permanent and could last you a lifetime.
- It uses only four implants per arch, unlike traditional implants which can use from 6 to 8 implants in each arch.
- It doesn’t require bone grafting.
It is recommended to get your all-on-4 implants as soon as you can, because the more you delay replacing missing teeth, the more your body will move you towards gum disease, bone loss, and all the other problems that come with a lack of teeth.