What is All on 4 Dental Implants?
Data from the American College of Prosthodontists shows that around 40 million people in the US are missing all of their natural teeth, so it’s not surprising that there are so many options for replacing multiple missing teeth. These range from traditional dentures, to bridges, to dental implants, with all sorts of technologies in between. Dental implants are considered the gold standard for replacing missing teeth, providing long-lasting stability while also enhancing the health of the bone, but it’s unrealistic to replace multiple missing teeth with individual implants. In most cases, however, dentists can use a single dental implant to support more than one tooth in a row, and in many cases, dentists can use as few as four dental implants to support an entire arch of artificial teeth. This innovative approach allows dentists to optimize support from available healthy bone, reducing the need for bone grafts that might be required for more invasive implant procedures.
In many cases, tooth loss is the result of periodontal disease, or periodontitis, the inflammation of the tissues that support the teeth and hold them in the mouth. These tissues include the gums, bone, and teeth, as well as the connective ligaments that attach the teeth to the bone. Periodontitis destroys these tissues and leads to tooth loss; with the loss of the teeth comes the loss of the bone in the jaw, which is reabsorbed by the body. Dental implants are tiny titanium posts that are surgically inserted into the jawbone, under the gums, and the health of the bone that surrounds them is integral to proper healing after surgery. This means that sometimes, when a person is missing multiple teeth, their bone deteriorates significantly, and there may not be enough healthy bone tissue available to adequately support the eight or ten dental implants traditionally used for overdentures and other full-arch restorations.
Using 3D imaging, your dental professional can tell you if you’re a good candidate for All on 4 dental implants and plan the best placement arrangement for your All on 4 implants. If you have existing periodontal disease, you’ll work with a dental team that includes a periodontist to make sure your oral cavity is free of infection and diseased tissue, including remaining diseased teeth, before implants are placed, ensuring a good prognosis for implant success. Once the oral cavity is prepared, you will be sedated with a general anesthetic, and your oral surgeon will pull back the gum tissue and insert each implant into its precise location, suturing the gum tissue into place around the implant before placing a temporary denture for you to wear during healing. As the bone heals, it integrates with the implant post and forms a permanent bond; this process takes a few months, and your permanent denture will be affixed once healing is complete. As you eat, speak, and chew with your All on 4 denture, you’ll continue to help maintain your bone health, and, with effective oral hygiene that includes regular brushing and routine visits to the dentist, you can play your part in ensuring decades of security and enjoyment from your dental implants.