Living with an incomplete smile can be life-changing. Missing teeth not only affect a person’s appearance but also their quality of life. It can make it difficult to speak the way you normally do and also make it a challenge to enjoy all of the foods you like to eat. Plus, missing teeth can actually harm your oral health over time by weakening your jawbone, leading to its eventual deterioration, and resulting in the movement and/or loss of teeth neighboring the gap where a missing tooth used to reside.
Thankfully, modern prosthetic dentistry offers several options for replacing teeth and restoring smiles. One of these options that has become increasingly popular is tooth replacement with all-on-4.
What Is All-on-4?
All-on-4 is a tooth replacement treatment option that is comprised of a denture-like dental prosthetic device that permanently attaches to four dental implant anchors that have been strategically placed in a patient’s mouth.
The Benefits of Replacing Teeth With All-on-4
All-on-4 is a tooth replacement treatment option that offers several benefits to patients. This treatment option combines the tooth-replacement power of dentures with the comfort, security, and natural appeal of dental implants. All-on-4 looks and feels natural, and since it’s fixed into the patient’s mouth, it takes little time to adjust to the feeling of the dental appliance.
Additionally, the all-on-4 dental appliance is easy to care for because it simply requires the same dental hygiene routine as brushing and flossing. Though we might recommend adding a water flosser to the routine, as well, to promote healthy gums around the dental implant locations.
All-on-4 can be used to replace entire rows of a patient’s teeth with just four dental implants. So, it is less invasive and less costly than replacing all of a patient’s teeth using dental implants.
Additionally, with all-on-4, the four strategically placed dental implants deliver stimulation and pressure directly to the patient’s jawbone. This triggers the body to continue supporting the bone’s health and structure, generating bone matter to keep the bone healthy and strong while preserving the patient’s bone structure and physical appearance.
What to Expect When Getting All-on-4
The process of getting all-on-4 can be fairly lengthy due to the nature of the dental implant procedure process. We start with a patient consultation and diagnostic imaging to create a treatment plan.
If necessary, the process begins with the extraction of remaining teeth and then bone grafting procedures to strengthen the patient’s jawbone. These procedures are followed by a recovery period during which the jawbone grows and generates new matter.
Once adequate jawbone mass is present, the dental implants can be placed, and implant placement is also followed by a period of recovery and healing during which the dental implants osseointegrate with the jawbone to create secure attachments and anchor points. At this time, we take a digital scan of the patient’s mouth to design a customized denture to fit over the implants and replace the patient’s teeth.
When the dental implant anchors have become securely integrated with the jawbone, the patient’s all-on-4 denture can be permanently fixed to the dental implants using specially designed abutments.
Depending on the number of procedures needed and each patient’s individual healing time, this process can often require between six months and a year for completion.
Is All-on-4 the Right Treatment Option for You?
All-on-4 is a popular treatment option, but it’s not always the best tooth replacement option for everyone. We recommend all-on-4 to patients who are missing all or most of their teeth and who are healthy enough to undergo the dental implant placement process. This process requires patients to have generally healthy gums and good oral health. Additionally, it might require that a patient quits using tobacco and refrains from consuming alcohol throughout the process to ensure proper healing of the gum tissues.
Patients must also have adequate jawbone mass present to support the four dental implants. If there is not adequate jawbone mass available, our prosthodontist can discuss the option of bone grafting procedures to strengthen the jawbone.
Other Tooth-Replacement Treatment Options
If all-on-4 is not the right treatment option for you due to oral health challenges, fewer missing teeth, or varying treatment preferences, you can still restore your smile. There are a variety of other treatments and types of dental prostheses that can replace your teeth and restore your smile. These include traditional dentures (full and partial), snap-on dentures, individual dental implants topped with dental crowns, and a variety of dental bridges.
Smile Restoration With Our Prosthodontist in Loveland, Colorado
Whether you’re missing one tooth, a few teeth, most, or all of your teeth, our prosthodontist, Dr. Andrew Bock can work with you to restore and revitalize your smile. During a smile restoration consultation, we can talk with you about your tooth replacement needs and examine your teeth, gums, and jawbone to help you determine the best course of treatment for you.