If you don't have adequate jaw bone to support traditional dental implants, you may need to undergo additional surgeries to get bone grafts. Some people may not want to proceed with additional surgeries and their costs or wait too long to get their implants. One way to speed up the process is by considering an all-on-four procedure instead of traditional implants. Read on to learn more about all-on-four surgery and its pros and cons.
What Is an All-on-Four Surgery?
All-on-four surgery is a technique where about four to six implants support a bridge or a denture. Instead of replacing a lot of teeth with individual implants, your dentist can construct a dental appliance, like a denture, that can snap on to a few implants. Although you may not have a permanent crown, the denture or bridge is semi-permanent and is much more stable than other appliances that may need adhesives.
What Are the Main Benefits of All-on-Four Implants?
The main benefit of all-on-four implants is that you usually do not need bone grafting beforehand—even if you have some resorption. Instead of placing the implants perpendicularly to the jaw line, doctors who use the all-on-four technique tend to angle the implants to take advantage of denser bone that usually remains in the front of the patient's jaw. This angulation helps the doctor avoid having to place implants in weaker bone near the sinus cavities.
Besides helping more people qualify for implants, the all-on-four surgery may be more economical if you want to replace a lot of teeth. Costhelper says that a single implant could cost between $2,400 and $3,000; but with all-on-four surgeries, you can replace multiple teeth since the dental appliance only needs a few implants for support.
Some people like all-on-four surgery just because treatment and recovery are less time consuming; your implants can be loaded and the appliance can be placed on the same day! Although other appliances may need to be taken out at night for cleaning, you can keep all-on-four appliances in and brush then like you would natural teeth.
What Are the Downsides to an All-on-Four Surgery?
Like every option, there are both pros and cons. Your dentist can help you weigh your options. One possible issue with all-on-four appliances is that they can be bulky, so some people have trouble adjusting their speech and may even experience hissing or spitting when they try to talk or eat. This issue is often resolved as you get used to the new restoration. Your dentist could even remove the appliance and make adjustments to help you have a better fit if things don't improve.
Another possible downside of this route is that each implant must work in harmony for the appliance to work correctly. So if one implant isn't integrating properly, it can cause issues for the whole jaw and damage the appliance's retention capabilities. However, implant surgeries have good success rates; your dentist will do everything he or she can to reduce the possibility of implant failure. He or she will help you adjust your oral health and habits so that you can recover quickly. He or she will take x-rays and other imaging tests to make sure your jaw bone can support implants.
Contact a dentist in your area to learn more about dental implants and whether or not you'd be a good candidate for an all-on-four procedure.