Losing all of the teeth on your upper or lower jaws is a nightmare scenario for many people. The thought of dentures has long struck despair into the hearts of many. But as technology has developed, so too have the ways we could replace rows of teeth. One of the biggest breakthroughs was dental implants — and the biggest breakthrough of dental implants, was All-on-4.
What is All-on-4?
All-on-4 is a method of replacing an entire arch of teeth by supporting a denture with just four dental implants. This is in contrast to other implant-supported mouth restorations which use anywhere from 6-8 dental implants.
The All-on-4 system was designed to minimize the amount of implant surgery needed, while still maintaining optimum support of the denture.
What are the benefits of implant-supported dentures?
There are two key benefits of implant-supported dentures.
Firstly, they help maintain good bone volume in your jaw. After teeth are extracted, bone volume begins to decrease. The surrounding bone around where the tooth used to be begins to shrink into the gap left by the missing tooth. Dental implants help fill these gaps and maintain volume. This in turn helps prevent the jaw from warping or reshaping as drastically as it might otherwise.
The second benefit, and the one most patients are concerned about, is support. Traditional dentures have a bad reputation for being uncomfortable, unreliable, and falling out at the worst possible moments. Dental implants provide a solid foundation for the denture, holding it in place and making it a more secure biting surface than before. It’s still possible to get removable dentures supported by implants, but these are still held firmly in place until intentionally removed by the wearer.
What are the benefits of All-on-4?
All-on-4 has several specific benefits.
The primary benefit is the decreased number of implants. This allows for faster healing and less time in surgery.
All-on-4 can also support same-day restorations. While this is not true of every case, select patients will be able to leave the surgery with new temporary teeth already in place. This is not possible with traditional implant-supported dentures.
What are the downsides of All-on-4?
Unfortunately like all good things, there are some downsides to All-on-4.
Firstly, the selection criteria is much stricter. All-on-4 requires very precise planning for the placement of the implants to ensure you get the most support. Not everybody has jaw bones or jaw volume suitable for the placement of the implants.
Secondly, the implants in All-on-4 are all placed in the front of the jaw. There are no implants over the molars, where most of the bite force is concentrated.
Thirdly, because there are fewer implants, one failing results in the whole system failing. When there are 6-8 implants and one fails, only the failed implant needs to be replaced. Because All-on-4 is so precise, failure in one implant means redoing much of the procedure.