If your dentist has suggested an all-on-4 dental implant as a treatment option for restoring your damaged or missing teeth, make sure you fully understand the process so you can determine whether the solution is the right one for you. All-on-4 dental implant procedures are complex, but when performed by an experienced dental surgeon with advanced training in aesthetics and state-of-the-art dentistry, you can expect a radiant, new smile.
You want your new smile to look, feel, and function like natural teeth, and all-on-four dental implants, designed to replace your entire upper set, lower set, or both sets of teeth, can do just that. But before you agree to undergo any dental implant procedure, educate yourself on other viable options, then look deeper into the details of your preferred solution to ensure you are making an informed treatment decision.
The Basics of Full Arch Replacement Options
The three most common full arch dental appliances, designed to replace a full set of teeth on either the upper or lower arch, are removable dentures, denture implants, and all-on-four dental implants. Knowing some of the key pros and cons of each option can give you a general idea of which one is more suitable for your needs and desires.
When you choose a board-certified, experienced dental specialist for your treatment, safety should not be an issue. Full arch replacements are routine procedures today, are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and are deemed safe and effective. In fact, The American College of Prosthodontists report dental implants are “predictably successful” with success rates often above 95 percent.
All-On-4 Dental Implants
Whereas a traditional dental implant is used to replace a single missing tooth, all-on-4 dental implants offer patients replacement of an entire arch for either their upper or lower teeth. Just four titanium implants are surgically inserted into the jawbone forming a sturdy base to support a full arch dental prosthesis. All-on-4 implants are strategically placed to maximize existing bone and to preserve and stimulate natural bone growth, leading to a successful procedure. There is typically a six-month healing process for all-on-4 implants which requires a modified diet, and adherence to a strict oral hygiene program. The final replacement teeth are as close to natural as you can get. All-on-4 implants are permanent, fixed implants, and are typically the most expensive tooth replacement option.
Often referred to as implant-supported dentures, implant-anchored dentures, or overdentures, denture implants are an alternative to removable or traditional dentures and provide an increased level of comfort and function. Similar to the all-on-4 implants, titanium screws are surgically inserted into the jawbone, usually just two are needed to support the dental plate, then the dentures are attached to the implants. Denture implants can be installed as permanent or removable fixtures. Overdentures are more stable than conventional dentures, are more natural looking, and are less irritating. However, as with any implant procedure, the patient must have a healthy jawbone to support the implants. If this is not the case, sometimes bone grafting or a sinus lift must precede the procedure.
Also called full arch dentures, these conventional dentures are a removable tooth replacement option that sit directly on the gums of a patient needing all their teeth replaced. Once crafted according to the patient’s requirements, dentures are an immediate solution that can be installed in the dentist’s office at completion of any additional extractions or dental work. If you want teeth in a day, dentures are a quick, effective, and cost-effective option that can restore confidence in a patient’s visual appearance and quickly improve their ability to speak and eat. On the downside, dentures are often uncomfortable and feel bulky, require frequent adjustments and re-fittings, and may not fully restore speech and eating function.
All-on-4 Dental Implants: 5 Considerations to Help Ease Your Mind
Regardless of the cause of your tooth loss — natural aging, periodontal disease, or traumatic injury — an all-on-4 dental implant may be a good option to restore your missing teeth and improve your quality of life. Just like a standard dental implant is used to replace a single tooth, the all-on-4 dental implant is a similar process used to replace a full arch.
Your friends and family members have them and love them, and your dentist recommends them for you, but you still need more evidence that they are right for you. Review these considerations, pros and cons, and questions to pose to yourself and to your dentist to help paint a clearer picture of the all-on-four dental implant procedure.
1. Benefits of All-On-4s
First and foremost, it is important to understand the benefits of an all-on-4 implant. Ask your dentist for a complete list, but when compared to the other options, these top benefits often lead patients to go with the all-on-4 instead of dentures:
- Aesthetics. Tooth and bone loss can affect your facial structure and alter your appearance by making you look gaunt and drawn. All-on-4s restore the original height between your upper jaw and lower jaw returning fullness to your lips and cheeks. In addition, your all-on-four implants look, feel, and function like natural teeth.
- Comfort. The new teeth are supported via solid implants and do not rest on your gums. This eliminates the potential of contact sores or friction marks on your gums. In addition, it provides a stable base eliminating slippage when you eat or talk. Once enough recovery time has passed and your mouth is fully healed, you will barely even notice that you have replacement teeth.
- Durability. The high-quality titanium all-on-4 dental implants, through the process of osseointegration, allow bone to grow around the implant while preserving the existing bone keeping the jaw strong and the implants stable. All-on-four implants are made from very durable materials like porcelain or acrylic, and with proper care and regular dental check-ups, the implants can be a permanent solution that lasts a lifetime.
- Freedom of food choice. Unlike dentures, all-on-4s do not impact your ability to chew or taste your food. With an all-on-4 you can eat virtually anything you want — and enjoy it.
- Restored confidence. Many patients report all-on-4s instill a sense of confidence they have not had in a while. As their teeth degraded over time, or they struggled to adjust to dentures, they felt self-conscious and their confidence began to erode. All-on-4 implants helped restore speech clarity and brought out their smiles. Patients report feeling happy and confident after undergoing an all-on-4 implant procedure.
2. Cost For All-On-Four Dental Implants
is important that you are comfortable with the all-on-4 procedure and associated costs, but the price alone should not be your deciding factor. If you have dental insurance, contact your provider to determine whether the policy covers dentures or an all-on-4 implant. Some companies may view implants as cosmetic and will not cover the procedure, but they may cover some of the underlying procedures.
Request an itemized list of all expenses from your dentist, and create a preliminary dental budget to plan for financing. The final cost for your all-on-four dental implants will be determined by a variety of factors, including type of prosthetic, associated costs of procedures such as extractions or bone grafts. For a full arch expect to pay anywhere between $15,000 and $30,000.
Make sure to check with your dentist about available financing options and payment plans they offer to help pay for your all-on-4s.
3. Health Issues and Eligibility
Not everyone is a candidate for dental implants. Ideal patients are in good overall health and must be able to tolerate anesthesia and surgery. Certain conditions and medications may disqualify you as an implant candidate. If you smoke or have a chronic health condition, first check with your medical provider to determine if you are a candidate. Although underlying health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, may not automatically disqualify you, your dentist may need medical clearance prior to agreeing to taking you on as an implant patient.
All-on-four candidates must also have good oral health including adequate jawbone density and healthy gums. However, even if you have lost bone mass from missing teeth, the dentist may be able to be precise enough with implant placement to utilize the existing bone mass to ensure a stable foundation. Bone graft procedures are another option to shore up the jawbone.
Bruxism, or clenching, grinding, or gnashing your teeth, can be a reason for ineligibility as it can lead to failure from the constant pressure placed on your teeth.
Be forthcoming with your dentist in regards to any health concerns to ensure a safe, effective outcome.
4. Experience and Chairside Manner of Your Dentist
It is very important that you are comfortable talking to your dentist and that you feel confident in their skill and competence. Before you undergo an extensive implant procedure, do your research. Research your dentist’s credentials and trainings, review the practice’s website, and ask friends or family members for references. Ask questions of your dentist or dental professional to gauge your confidence in their knowledge and your comfort level with them.
Here are some sample questions:
- Do you have any concerns with my health?
- How many all-on-4 implants have you personally performed?
- What is your success rate for this procedure?
- What do you think about me getting a second opinion?
- How do you handle emergencies?
- Will the procedure hurt?
- What is a typical post-implant recovery and implant treatment plan?
Use the consultation time to get your questions answered, and to voice any fears and/or concerns you may have. Your dentist should address all of your concerns, without being dismissive, during the consultation. If you are going to replace all of your upper or lower teeth, or get a full set of replacement teeth, your restorative dentist should put you at ease. When you walk out of your consultation, you should know whether this restorative dentist is right for you.
5. Adherence to the Treatment Plan
If you are going to replace all of your upper or lower teeth, or get a full set of replacement teeth with an all-on-4 implant, your restorative dentist should spend time discussing the process with you and creating a comprehensive treatment plan. The treatment plan will be your best tool for gauging your personal commitment to the procedure. Understanding the dental implant services your dentist recommends, the expected timeframe for those services, recovery and care, and the anticipated costs, will give you a complete view of your dental needs and should all be part of the comprehensive treatment plan.
The plan should not end on the day of surgery. A successful all-on-4 implant requires a strict follow-up schedule, proper management of healing and oral health, clear long-term dental hygiene practices, and special dietary requirements. Instructions for all of these items should also be included in the plan.
Are You Ready to Commit?
All-on-four dental implants are a significant undertaking, but they can change your life for the better. Do your homework, ask questions, and assess your time and financial resources to determine whether all-on-4s are the right solution for you.
Carefully read and re-read the treatment plan until you are sure you can commit the time and resources it will take to get you the smile you want.
Schedule a Consultation with the #1 Rated Restorative Dentist in Santa Clarita
Contact one of the dental professionals at Aesthetic Dental & Specialty Center to determine if you are a candidate for an all-on-4 dental implant. We offer personal, innovative and state-of-the-art care. As dentists in Santa Clarita who care, we will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan based on your dental needs, resources, and personal preferences.
Let us give you back your smile and self-esteem! Schedule your appointment online or call our Santa Clarita dental office today at (661) 290-2825.
Aesthetic Dental & Specialty Center features a comfortable relaxed atmosphere. Our friendly staff and hygienists help put our patients at ease — even the most nervous ones. Our Santa Clarita dentists also provide oral conscious and IV advanced sedation for those patients who need more help to relax.
Whether you need general dentistry services or you have more complex dental needs, our expert dental team serves patients of all ages, and we accept most dental insurance.
No matter where you’re traveling from — Valencia or Stevenson Ranch — Aesthetic Dental & Specialty Center is here to serve you. Take a look at the areas we serve below and schedule a complimentary consultation today!