All-on-4 dental implants. What the heck are they? Every time we read it, our brain converts it to ‘all for one’, the famous motto of the three musketeers. It’s not a bad way of looking at it, either. Dental implants are, in layman’s terms, screw-like metal implants inserted into the bone structure of your jaw, with a tooth attached to the end outside.
The All-on-4 dentures, however, are teamwork personified. The name itself is a brand, trademarked by Nobel Biocare, a Swiss enterprise. They were first to identify the technique, which has been dabbled with since the 70s. They saw its potential and bankrolled Portuguese dentist Paulo Maló to develop it to what it is today. A global undertaking!
One for all, with All-on-4 So, how does it work? Four implants are inserted into the jaw, either top or bottom. Here’s the clever bit. The back two are set at an angle. This means that if there is bone degradation in the jaw, which is common in people with tooth loss, then they can still be inserted and support the prosthetics. Once they are in, a whole set of 12 or so teeth can be attached as one unit. Voilá, a full set of smilers.
Who can have the surgery?
There are all the usual complications. With great beauty comes great responsibility. The usual rules apply. Non-smokers are preferred as your gums will be healthier and will also heal much faster. Only adult jaws, please. Children’s bones are still growing until their late teens. They will outgrow their implants. General oral health levels need to be reasonable. Gum disease will be a problem that might rule you out.
This is classed as a prosthetic procedure, except in very rare cases. Your insurance is unlikely to pay up. There are ways to keep the cost down, for example, get both top and bottom done at once if you need both. Go to a clinic that specializes. Take a dental vacation down to central America.
The good news is that people who may not be able to have regular dental implants may still be able to go for All-on-4. As mentioned, jaw damage can be circumnavigated. Also, the need for bone grafting rules out diabetes sufferers and those with osteoporosis. This technique eliminates that need.
How long will it take?
The news just keeps on getting better. This is a one-day surgery. In and out. The recovery time is also vastly reduced compared to regular implants. Removing old teeth to make way for the implants, the surgery itself, and affixing your new teeth on afterward can be done in the same appointment. Even better, you can go home and eat dinner! That’s not to say that you should be chewing toffee or gnawing on spare ribs. Be sensible, keep it soft for a while.
All in all, though, it’s definitely the way of the future. It’s rather like laptops versus desktop PCs. Laptops are great. They’re convenient, they look good, they take up less room. But if your ‘e’ key stops working, the whole thing is useless. It has to be taken in and taken apart by an expert. On the other hand, you drop your PC keyboard into a heady combination of sulphuric acid and fertilizer. Your ‘e’ key, along with most of the rest of them, has dissolved completely. Your keyboard is a write-off and a toxic hazard to boot. You just pop down your local computer store and get a new one. You PC won’t even notice. But, laptops and All-on-4 are both here to stay. The procedure is young, but results suggest that your implants will last longer than 10 years. Which is more than my laptop will! As interest focuses and research and development continue both will come down in price and up in quality and usability. It might just be right for you.
Resources: The Malo Clinic https://maloclinics.com/en
Authority Dental https://www.authoritydental.org/all-on-four-implants