All-on-4 Dental Implants 101
Believe it or not, tooth loss is a very common problem in America today. According to the American College of Prosthodontists, an estimated 178 million Americans have at least one tooth missing, and around 40 million have no teeth at all. That means more than half of America is missing a tooth, and around 1 in every 8 Americans is missing all of their teeth.
If you’re one of those Americans, knowing that you’re far from alone may be reassuring, but that doesn’t mean it’s not difficult to eat, speak, and feel self-confident when you’re missing teeth. People who have missing teeth report embarrassment, social anxiety, reluctance to speak or smile, and even feelings of grief.
Fortunately, modern dentistry offers many solutions for the problem of missing teeth. Dental implants are advanced enough to fuse with your jawbone and essentially become a part of your body, allowing for the installment of a prosthetic that is indiscernible from your other teeth, and in many cases, can look even better than them.
But what happens if you’re missing several teeth? Do you need to receive a dental implant on every single one of them to have your smile back?
Thankfully, with All-on-4 dental implants, the answer to that question is no. All-on-4 allows you to receive a whole new set of teeth with only, you guessed it, four surgical implants in your mouth. It’s a more permanent alternative to traditional dentures with a more natural look, and the amount of surgery required is as minimal as possible.
If you’re interested in All-on-4 dental implants, read on to learn everything you need to know about them.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are the state-of-the-art method for tooth replacement today. In a dental implant surgery, a titanium screw is positioned in your gums in place of a tooth root. Your jawbone then grows over the screw over the course of a few months through a process known as osseointegration. After that process is complete, a piece known as an abutment is then attached to the screw, and a crown designed to match the rest of your teeth is installed.
Through osseointegration, the implant essentially becomes a permanent part of your jaw, making it strong, sturdy, and able to last you the rest of your life. Dental implants generally have a much shorter recovery period and are vastly superior in quality and appearance to dentures.
What Are All-on-4 Dental Implants?
If you’re missing several teeth, the idea of having a titanium screw installed in place of every one of your roots may seem a bit overwhelming. That’s where All-on-4 comes in. With All-on-4 dental implants, you’ll be able to receive a full set of teeth with only four strategically placed screws implanted in your gums. Think of them as permanently installed dentures that are not only sturdier but more real looking.
What Are Some All-on-4 Benefits?
You may still be reluctant to have oral surgery, even though All-on-4 reduces the amount of surgery required to a minimum. That’s understandable, but there is a wide array of benefits from opting to receive All-on-4 dental implants.
All-on-4 benefits include:
- Renewed self-confidence
- Strengthening of jaw and prevention of bone loss common in missing teeth
- One single surgery to receive a full set of teeth
- Money saved by reducing the number of implants required
- Security and stability, unlike dentures, which can move around in your mouth
- Last a lifetime
Drawbacks of All-on-4
Of course, no option for tooth replacement is a perfect one. All-on-4 is no different. There are a handful of reasons why you may find that this particular dental implant procedure is not for you.
- You won’t find out exactly how your implants feel and look until you’ve had the procedure
- With several teeth supported by four roots, bite force is reduced
- Requires careful maintenance to avoid plaque and tartar buildup
How Long Does All-on-4 Take?
If you’ve weighed the pros and cons and have come to the conclusion that All-on-4 dental implants are for you, you may now be wondering about the details of the procedure.
When you receive All-on-4 dental implants, you’ll be placed under anesthesia to ensure the procedure goes as smoothly as possible. The surgeon will then remove any remaining teeth that are no longer viable and clear out any infected gum tissue.
Titanium screws are then placed into four strategic and evenly distributed areas of the jawbone. Two screws are usually placed in the front, and two are placed in the back. After the screws are successfully implanted, the dentures are connected, and the area is cleaned and stitched.
An All-on-4 dental implant procedure will typically take around two to three hours per row of teeth, but for you, it should feel like the blink of an eye.
Recovery from All-on-4 is generally pretty short, with many recipients able to return to their regular lives within a few days. However, there are some precautions you should take to ensure your mouth heals fully and your implants work properly.
- Avoid touching your mouth, as this can potentially cause infections and can further irritate the area
- Gently rinse your mouth with salt water after every meal and at least 3-4 times a day
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol during recovery as they delay the healing process
- Once you are able to brush your teeth, do so regularly, thoroughly, and only use toothbrushes and toothpaste designed for dental implants
- Expect some pain, swelling, and bleeding over the course of the first few days, but if the swelling and bleeding last longer than that, consult your doctor or oral surgeon
- Schedule regular checkups with your dentist to ensure that your dental implants remain clean, healthy, and working properly