Because our teeth are so vitally important to our daily lives, social interactions, and overall functioning, total tooth-loss can feel stressful, devastating, and isolating. Missing teeth can become even more challenging if your dentures don’t fit properly or if you have already begun experiencing the bone deterioration that results from tooth loss.
Though you may feel alone, tooth loss is actually quite common. In the United States alone, an estimated 178 million adults are missing at least one tooth, while 40 million adults are missing all of their teeth. With so many adults experiencing or facing total tooth loss, implantology (the science of dental implants) has developed and refined All-on-4 dentistry—a technique for making dental implants more accessible, less invasive, and comparatively cost-effective.
What is All-on-4 dentistry?
All-on-4 dentistry is a dental implant technique that uses just four dental implants to support an entire upper or lower arch of prosthetic teeth.
A dental implant is a small, threaded titanium post that is surgically placed into the jawbone to create a sturdy anchor for one or more replacement teeth. Dental implants actually integrate into your bone structure (called osseointegration), effectively replicating the appearance, structure, and function of your natural teeth.
Implant-supported dentures vs. All-on-4
Implant-supported dentures (also called overdentures) and All-on-4s each provide a stable, functional, and attractive replacement for an entire upper or lower arch of teeth. However, overdentures require a certain amount of jawbone in order to securely anchor up to eight dental implants. Patients who have experienced significant bone deterioration as a result of tooth loss may either require bone augmentation prior to implant placement or may not qualify for this type of tooth-loss restoration.
An All-on-4 implant restoration is designed to utilize existing jawbone to create a full-arch replacement with four strategically placed dental implants. Generally, two straight implants are placed at the front of the jaw and two angled implants are placed in the back of the jaw. This strategic position offers many unique benefits, especially to patients who may not qualify for overdentures due to bone atrophy.
How can All-on-4 dentistry help me?
Tooth loss does not have to be a life-long sentence. Here’s how All-on-4 dentistry can help you reclaim your smile’s health, beauty, and function while boosting your quality of life and overall health and wellbeing.
Stable tooth replacement.
Like all dental implant treatments, an All-on-4 restoration provides the most stable tooth-replacement option. Because they fuse to and function with living bone, dental implants provide a strong and long-lasting foundation to keep your replacement teeth comfortably and reliably in place. Additionally, an All-on-4 restoration provides permanent teeth that don’t have to be removed like traditional or implant-supported dentures, eliminating the need for denture adhesives and special solutions.
Less invasive and cost-effective.
Full-arch restorations often require the placement of six-to-eight dental implants (which means six-to-eight incision sites), in addition to bone grafting or augmentation prior to implant placement. As they only require the placement of four dental implants and often don’t require bone augmentation, All-on-4 restorations are generally less invasive and therefore more cost-effective.
An All-on-4 restoration allows you to restore your ability to chew your favorite foods and smile confidently. Some All-on-4 patients may even meet the criteria to connect a temporary restoration to their new dental implants the same day as the implant procedure, restoring function even sooner. For all All-on-4 patients, your permanent restoration will be placed in approximately six months, after your tissues have healed.
Prevent bone deterioration.
In addition to lost function and self-confidence, bone deterioration is one of the most undesirable long-term side effects of tooth loss. Human teeth are normally embedded in the part of your jaw known as the alveolar ridge. Just as the force of weight-bearing and resistance exercises improve your overall bone health and density, the force of chewing preserves the health and density of your jawbones. When that force is eliminated due to tooth loss, the bone resorbs into your body, causing horizontal and vertical bone atrophy.
As full or partial dentures exert only a fraction of the force produced by natural teeth (as little at 10 percent), they are not effective at preventing bone deterioration. In fact, dentures can even accelerate bone loss by placing too much pressure on the alveolar ridge. This can ultimately cause the lower third of your face to collapse, creating a sunken appearance of your mouth and cheeks. Because they mimic the natural root-structure of your teeth, dental implants can help you prevent bone deterioration, maintain your oral health and function, and restore your facial features.
Improved Quality of Life.
Missing all or most of your teeth can have an immense impact on your quality of life and overall sense of wellbeing. As your teeth are often one of the first features people notice about you, missing teeth may make you may feel less self-confident and insecure about eating, speaking, smiling, or laughing in front of others. With a reliable tooth-replacement, restored oral function, and a natural-looking appearance, All-on-4 implant restorations ultimately aim to give you your smile back and to help you live your life with a greater sense of ease, freedom, comfort, and confidence.
With All-in-4 dentistry, you can make missing teeth a thing of the past. From suitability to financing, Dr. Jennifer Wohlers and her team are honored to help you understand all the options you have for replacing missing teeth. Schedule an appointment or contact us today to learn how you can restore your smile’s health, beauty, and function.