All-On-4 Dental Implants
It’s estimated that over 35 million Americans have lost all of their teeth. Many of these people have tried wearing dentures, but dentures have their drawbacks: slipping, the inability of the wearer to sense food temperatures, continuing loss of underlying jawbone mass, and the fear to eat certain foods, among other issues. Replacing all of the missing teeth with dental implants would be a great solution, but the cost is prohibitive for most people. So, many people simply suffer through the embarrassment, nutritional deficiencies, and decreased quality of life that is part of living without their teeth.
But now Dr. Steier, who is an expert at placing dental implants, has a new option, All-on-4 dental implants. This is a hybrid between implants and dentures. The All-on-4 method uses just four implants on the top arch and four on the bottom arch to anchor full sets of top and bottom false teeth. Because the false teeth are now anchored solidly by implants, the wearer can eat normal foods again, and can show the world a perfect smile.
What Are All-On-4 Dental Implants?
Using dental implants to anchor dentures isn’t new, but it has typically involved six to eight implants on each arch. These implants were placed vertically into the jawbone.
Dr. Steier’s All-on-4 method requires only four implants per arch. This is possible thanks to the two back implants on each arch. Instead of being placed vertically, these back implants are placed at a 30- to 45-degree angle from the biting plane. Doing this usually precludes the need for bone grafting. Patients who have been missing their teeth for some time usually have lost some degree of jawbone mass, and vertical implant placement often requires grafting to build the bone back up. After the back implants are placed at an angle, the front two implants are placed vertically. This is possible because there is usually less bone loss toward the front of the jaw.
Next, a prosthesis with 10-14 teeth is permanently attached to the four implants on each arch. For these prostheses, the patient can choose between porcelain or composite resin.
Benefits of All-On-4 Dental Implants
For a person who has been missing all of his or her teeth, the life changes made by All-on-4 implants are hard to sufficiently detail. Instantly the patient can smile confidently, eat a normal diet again, speak more clearly, and feel a real boost in self-confidence.
These are the benefits associated with the All-on-4 implant system:
- Eat a normal, diverse diet without worrying — Because your new teeth are fully anchored into your jawbone, you can now return to a normal diet.
- Return to a confident smile — Your new teeth will function, feel, and look just like natural teeth. Your smile will be back.
- Acquire a complete set of fully functioning teeth in a short amount of time — The All-on-4 implant procedure takes around 2.5 hours per arch, and you will have temporary functioning teeth the same day (they will be replaced with your permanent teeth when your implants have fully healed and solidified).
- Chew and bite with confidence — Your anchored new teeth will give you a bite force with 70 percent more power than dentures.
- Teeth for life — Your four or eight implants are permanent, and your new teeth can last the rest of your life.
- Implants without painful bone grafts — If you’ve lost jawbone mass you won’t need to suffer through the bone grafting often required with traditional implants.
- Put an end to further bone loss — Your implants will now transfer bite force energy down into your jawbone. This energy triggers the jawbone to continually create new bone cells, the key to healthy bone mass.
Who Is a Good Candidate for All-On-4 Dental Implants?
There are very few limits for a person to be an All-on-4 candidate. Ideally, the patient should be missing all or the majority of his or her teeth. Age is not a factor.
All-On-4 Implant Procedure
Another amazing thing about this method of implant placement is that it can be done in most cases in just a single day. The first step, if necessary, is to remove any remaining damaged teeth. We’ll also thoroughly clean out and remove any diseased gum tissue. From there the actual placement of your implants takes just two and a half hours per arch.
We begin the process with a CT scan of your jawbone. This shows Dr. Steier the overall condition of your jawbone, and lets her plot the best locations for the eight implants. Next, we will create a computer simulation of your mouth and map out the implant locations. We’ll also take impressions to create your temporary false teeth.
For the actual placement, we can use local or general anesthesia (your choice). We place the two back implants at an angle and the front implants vertically. The implants get their name from the titanium “implant” that is screwed down into the jawbone. For the angled implants, Dr. Steier will drill a tiny hole to start the implant. She will place the vertical implants in sockets formerly occupied by the natural tooth roots. After the placement of the implants, an abutment, like a post, attaches to each implant. The final step is to attach a temporary set of teeth to the four posts top and bottom. Since the implants are not fully integrated, at this point you’ll eat a soft diet.
The jawbone will take a period of 3-6 months, depending on how fast it grows, to fully accept the implants and grow around them. When Dr. Steier feels the implants are fully integrated into the jaw, she replaces your temporary prostheses with your permanent teeth. Now, you’re good to go. You can eat what you want and show your beautiful new teeth to the world.
What Is Recovery Like After All-On-4 Procedure?
After we place the implants and attach the temporary prosthesis, you will return home and allow the incisions to heal. We’ll provide pain medication, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory medications, but your recovery will not involve an undue amount of pain. Your newly placed implants are delicate at this time, so you will need to follow a soft diet. You’ll also need to avoid strenuous exercise for a couple weeks.
Your jawbone then begins to bond onto the bases of the titanium implants, growing around the implants and making them a part of the bone. This process varies by the patient, but usually takes between 3-6 months. Over this period, you’ll periodically come back to see Dr. Steier so she can check your progress and adjust your temporary bridges.
How Are All-On-4 Dental Implants Different from Traditional Dentures?
The difference is the anchoring. Dentures usually adhere to the gums through a combination of suction and pressure from the surrounding tissues. This is why they can slip when talking or chewing and why people need to avoid certain foods.
All-on-4 dental implants anchor a top and bottom set of false teeth. Because they don’t sit on the gums, as traditional dentures do, we call these prostheses not dentures. The implants attach to the prosthesis in four spots that span your arch. These give your false teeth incredible strength, allowing you to eat whatever you want without any fear of your teeth slipping.
Plus, traditional dentures don’t stimulate the jawbone under your gums. This allows the jawbone to continue to deteriorate (this process begins as soon as a tooth is missing). This problem makes it necessary to refit dentures periodically. Implants send the energy created by biting and chewing down through the implant into the jawbone. This energy is delivered into the jawbone just as a natural tooth does, and it triggers the body to continually create new bone mass to ward off deterioration.
Your new teeth will be a part of your jawbone (thanks to the implants) and will look, feel, and function just like real teeth. We take great pride in the prostheses we provide and guarantee you’ll love your new teeth and your new smile!
Schedule a Consultation
Want to learn more about All-On-4 dental implants? Schedule a consultation to see if you are a good candidate. Call our Boca Raton office (561) 395-3190 for an appointment with Dr. Carolina Steier.