All-on-4 dental implants are used to support a full set of false teeth and restore an entire arch of missing teeth. Unlike a full mouth restoration with single-unit implants, All-on-4 implants only require four implants per arch. This option is a major advantage over the single-unit alternative because the surgery is less invasive and provides a more affordable option for patients who are missing all of their natural teeth in a dental arch.
However, there are also some potential disadvantages to this type of implant. Some problems include placing more pressure on the bones and tissues surrounding the implants, leading to complications such as bone loss or gum recession.
All-on-4 dental implants are also not always as strong as traditional implants, so they may need to be replaced more frequently, especially if you grind your teeth or have habits like chewing on ice.
To understand if All-on-4 dental implants are a suitable treatment for you, weigh the pros and cons of All-on-4 dental implants before making a decision. Concerns you may have can include how long the recovery period takes, if there are any problems post-surgery, or what the final result will look like.
What are All-on-4 Dental Implants?
All-on-4 dental implants are a type of dental prosthetic used to replace all teeth in one or both arches. The All-on-4 system consists of four titanium posts implanted into the jawbone and act as artificial roots. These posts are then used to support a bridge of replacement teeth.
All-on-4 implants offer numerous advantages over traditional tooth replacements, including increased stability, improved chewing function, and a more natural appearance. They can also be placed in patients who are ineligible for conventional implants due to insufficient bone density.
What to Expect During the All-On-4 Dental Implant Process?
Understanding what to expect during the stages of the All-on-4 dental implant process can alleviate any concerns you have about the treatment and help you make an informed decision about which treatment is right for your oral health. The All-on-4 dental implant surgery involves:
- After numbing the area with a local anaesthetic, your dentist makes an incision in the gum tissue where the lateral incisors are located. They drill a small hole in the jawbone and insert the posts with screw-like threads to assist with osseointegration.
- Your dentist then opens the gum tissue to expose the bone above the location where the posterior molars used to be. They drill a hole at a 45° angle and insert the titanium posts. Angling the posts increases stability and reduces the need for dense bone tissue.
- After the post is placed, you’ll be fitted for a temporary bridge that you wear so you can eat and speak while you wait for your permanent prosthesis to be fabricated.
- In some cases, the permanent prosthesis can be fitted within a few days of the surgery. However, if you have an autoimmune disease, a condition that suppresses your immune system, or you have minimal jawbone thickness, you may need to wait six to nine months for the implants to fully fuse with the posts. This is because the osseointegration process is typically slower in these individuals, and immediate loading can place too much pressure on the underlying jaw, increasing the risk of implant failure.
- The surgery usually takes around two to three hours and can give you a natural, revitalised smile.
Pros and Cons of All-on-4 Dental Implants: Advantages
In addition to their natural appearance, All-on-4 dental implants offer several advantages over other types of dental prosthetics like dentures or a bridge:
High Success Rate
All-on-4 dental implants have a success rate of over 98%, much higher than other dental implants’ success rates.
All-on-4 implants are placed in and fuse with the jawbone, which is much more stable than the gums. This helps to prevent the implants from shifting or moving over time. It also stimulates hard tissue growth and prevents bone resorption, which can cause dentures or bridges to become misaligned or ill-fitting and require replacement.
All-on-4 implants are made from titanium, a very strong material resistant to fracture. It is also highly biocompatible and coated in growth factors to support osseointegration and reduce the risk of implant rejection.
Fast Treatment Time
When it comes to dental implants, one of the main concerns is treatment time. Traditional dental implants like the single-unit full mouth restoration require a lengthy healing period before the bridge can be placed and can take six to nine months to heal, during which the patient must wait for the osseointegration process to be complete before the bridge can be placed.
All-on-4 implants can be loaded comparatively quickly. Casey Dentists also offers immediate loading, which means you don’t need to wait for osseointegration to be complete – the bridge can be placed within several days of the initial surgery.
This shorter treatment time is a major advantage for patients who want to restore their smile as quickly as possible. Immediate loading eliminates the need for a second surgery, reducing treatment time and providing greater convenience for patients.
The healing process after any dental implant surgery is different for everyone. Depending on the type of procedure, some patients may experience more discomfort and swelling than others. Generally, it is necessary to take it easy for the first few days and follow your surgeon’s instructions.
For All-on-4 dental implants, recovery is typically shorter and less painful than a full mouth restoration using single-unit crowns. This is because the All-on-4 dental implants surgery is less invasive, and the implants are placed in strategic areas of the jawbone to minimise surgical trauma.
More Comfortable and Stable Than Traditional Dentures
All-on-4 dental implants are a more comfortable and stable alternative to traditional dentures. The implants are placed in the jawbone, providing a secure foundation for the replacement teeth. Unlike dentures, All-on-4 implants do not need to be removed for cleaning and will not slip or click when you talk or eat.
Restores Eating and Speaking Function
One of the many benefits of an All-on-4 dental implant is that they restore eating and speaking functions. All-on-4 implants don’t cover the soft palate; this ensures that you can pronounce words correctly. However, you may need several days to get used to the feeling of the implants in your mouth before you can speak normally.
The osseointegration process also stimulates hard tissue growth, preventing bone resorption; resorption is the primary reason dentures become ill-fitting and affect speech.
Less Likely to Need a Bone Graft
In the past, dental implant surgery often required a bone graft to ensure enough bone tissue to support the implants. However, the All-on-4 dental implant procedure uses angled implants that can be placed in denser areas of the jawbone, putting less tension on the bone.
As a result, patients who choose an All-on-4 dental implant procedure are less likely to need a bone graft than those who opt for traditional implants.
Pros and Cons of All-on-4 Dental Implants: Disadvantages
While an All-on-4 dental implant offers many advantages, there are also some disadvantages to consider:
One of the biggest disadvantages of implant dentistry is the high cost. All-on-4 dental implants are considered a more expensive option compared to dentures. A full set of All-on-4 implants can be pricey. In comparison, traditional dentures can be way more economical.
While the initial investment for All-on-4 implants is higher, they are worth the long-term investment. All-on-4 implants are more durable and have a longer lifespan than other teeth replacement options. When cared for properly, All-on-4 implants can last a lifetime. In contrast, dentures need to be replaced every 5 to 7 years, and other implant options have an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years.
Any surgery has the potential for complications, and All-on-4 dental implant surgery is no exception. A few specific complications can result from All-on-4 dental implant surgery, including infection, nerve damage, and sinus problems. However, these complications are rare and can usually be either avoided or effectively treated if they do occur. Common complications include:
- Infection is the most common complication associated with All-on-4 dental implants. If food particles become trapped under the bridge or in the implant site, it allows bacteria to grow, leading to peri-implantitis. Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics for an infection in the early stages. However, left untreated, peri-implantitis can lead to implant rejection.
- Nerve damage is another potential complication that can occur if the posts are too long and damage the alveolar nerve. This can cause tingling and numbness in your face. Your dentist can minimise the risk with careful pre-operative planning.
- Sinus problems are the least common complication but can be effectively treated with medication if they do occur.
Gum Colour Mismatch
In most cases, All-on-4 implants can be colour-matched to your natural gum tissue. However, on rare occasions, the bridge may exactly match the shade of your gum tissue. Gum tissue can also change colour over time due to gum disease or other illnesses.
If this happens, you may need to have the bridge replaced or refinished to match your new gum colour.
Small Risk of Failure
The All-on-4 dental implant procedure has a very high success rate, with a less than 5% chance of the implants failing. The most common cause of All-on-4 implant failure is poor osseointegration from insufficient bone density in the jaw, which can be caused by multiple factors like:
- Genetic disposition. Some people are more likely to have weaker bones due to their genes or a predisposition to osteoporosis.
- Tooth loss. The jawbone begins to deteriorate when teeth are lost and can become too weak to support dental implants.
- Smoking. Smoking is a major risk factor for All-on-4 implant failure because it significantly reduces blood flow to the gums and jawbone, making it harder for the implants to heal properly.
However, there are several ways to minimise the risk of implant failure, including:
- Choose a qualified and experienced dentist. They should have extensive training in implant dentistry and be able to provide you with references.
- Undergo a thorough pre-operative assessment. This ensures you are a good candidate for dental implants. This assessment includes a medical history review, physical examination, and imaging tests.
- Follow all post-operative instructions carefully. This includes eating a soft diet for the first few weeks, avoiding hard or chewy foods, and attending all follow-up appointments.
Pros and Cons of All-on-4 Dental Implants: How to Decide if All-on-4 Dental Implants Are Right for You?
Unlike dentures, which can slip and cause embarrassing moments, implants are firmly anchored in place. They also allow you to eat the foods you love without worrying about them slipping out of place. However, implants are not the right option for everyone. There are a few factors to keep in mind before you decide to get them:
- Consult with your dentist to see if you are a good candidate. All-on-4 dental implants require a healthy jawbone to support them, so you may not be a good candidate if you have suffered from extensive bone loss. Patients with mild to moderate bone loss can still receive All-on-4 dental implants.
- All-on-4 dental implants also require a healthy immune system to heal properly. If you have diabetes, an autoimmune disorder, or cancer of the head or neck, you may be unable to get implants.
- All-on-4 dental implants surgery can be expensive, so you must consider the cost. However, numerous financing options are available through Casey Dental, including National Dental Plan, AfterPay, and MediPay. This allows you to pay off the cost of All-on-4 dental implants in affordable weekly or monthly instalments.
Aftercare and Maintenance Tips for All-On-4 Dental Implants
Taking good care of your All-on-4 dental implants is essential to ensure their longevity. Immediately after the surgery, your mouth will be sore, and you may have some swelling. Be sure to take any pain medication prescribed by your dentist and follow their instructions for managing discomfort.
You should also avoid chewing hard foods or opening your mouth wide for the first few days.
Brushing and flossing carefully around the implants is still important as you heal. You may also need to use a special antibacterial mouthwash or a Waterpik to remove debris underneath the prosthesis.
Continue to see your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings, and contact your dentist immediately if you have any concerns about your implants.
Get High-Quality All-on-4 Dental Implants at Casey Dentists
At Casey Dentists, we are proud to offer our patients high-quality All-on-4 dental implants. This unique implant technology provides a convenient and effective way to replace missing teeth.
If you are interested in exploring All-on-4 dental implants as a solution for tooth loss, contact our practice on (07) 4801 7035 today to book a consultation and learn about the pros and cons of your unique smile. Our experienced dental team can answer your questions and help you decide if this treatment option is right for your oral health and overall well-being.
We’re confident you’ll find the results worth the investment!
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
A longitudinal study of the survival of All-on-4 implants in the mandible with up to 10 years of follow-up https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21357865/
Osseointegration: An Update