For patients experiencing widespread tooth loss due to tooth decay or gum disease, All-on-4® offers a permanent solution for replacing missing teeth. This treatment uses only four implants to substitute an entire arch of teeth, and most steps of the process are completed in a single surgery. Before choosing this restorative option, it important that patients have a full understanding of how the procedure compares to other alternatives, including the possible benefits and complications.
All-on-4® compared to other restorative treatments
Before treating a person’s tooth loss, the dentist studies the patient’s unique situation to determine if All-on-4® is a suitable solution or if another alternative should be considered. There are several other types of treatments often used to address missing teeth:
- Dental implants: There is technically no limit to how many single implants a person can get, but this solution is generally too involved for patients lacking a majority of the teeth.
- Dental bridges: Dental bridges can be used to replace up to two adjacent teeth and rely on other healthy teeth to keep the prosthetic in place.
- Dentures: While dentures are the method traditionally used to treat extensive tooth loss, there are several disadvantages of these appliances, including frequent adjustments, discomfort and unwanted shifting.
Benefits of All-on-4®
All-on-4® offers several unique benefits for addressing cases that involve restoring a majority of the teeth. For one, implants help preserve the patient’s jawbone, preventing unnecessary sagging in the face over time. Only four titanium implants are required to replace a whole arch of teeth, which includes 16 teeth in total. It is possible to do both arches in one treatment as well, requiring a total of eight implants.
While bone grafting may be necessary for some patients, less jawbone is needed to support All-on-4® than regular traditional implants due to the placement and positioning of the titanium screws. The artificial gums only cover a small portion of the mouth, and the place where the bridge meets the patient’s mouth is hidden from view. Unlike standard dentures that are removable, this solution is permanent and designed to function like natural teeth. Patients do not have to make many dietary changes and can resume normal brushing and flossing.
A possible complication of All-on-4® is implant failure, which occurs when the jawbone does not successfully integrate the titanium screw. As with any surgical procedure, there is always the risk of infection. Some people also may experience speech issues or report that the prosthetic feels unnatural or bulky in the mouth. If at any point in the healing process the patient is experiencing persistent or intense pain, it is important to get in contact with the dentist right away to ensure the surgical site is recovering as it should.
Patients must have all the information necessary to make an informed decision about using All-on-4® as a treatment option for missing teeth in the mouth. There are several factors to consider, including the extensiveness of the tooth loss and the overall health and bone density of the patient’s mouth.
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