Although denture wearers often complain of discomfort and poor fit, dentures historically have been the only option for edentulous patients. Now, people who are missing all of their upper or lower teeth have an alternative—All-on-Four dental implants.
The basic All-on-Four process is similar to traditional dental implants, with the dentist anchoring each implant, which looks like a small metal screw, into the jawbone in a relatively simple outpatient procedure. While single implants involve the placement of a lone artificial tooth atop the implant, the All-on-Four variety relies on a complete arch of fabricated teeth that slides over the implants. The underside of the arch features four grooves into which the implants fit.
The main issue that has kept edentulous patients from benefiting from dental implant technology is jawbone resorption. A tooth’s roots help to keep the underlying jawbone from receding, so when the tooth is lost, along with the accompanying root, the bone is more likely to erode over time. Multiple missing teeth compound the problem. Because traditional implant procedures require an adequate bone structure to place the implant, patients with more than a couple of missing teeth were excluded as candidates. Bone grafts offered one solution, but that approach was often an unattractive one for patients due to the extensive surgery and recovery time it entails.
All-on-Four implants overcome this problem by maximizing the remaining amount of bone. The anterior jaw, or the area of bone near the front of the mouth, is typically the last to dissolve. With All-on-Four implants, dentists are able to insert all four implants in close proximity in the anterior jaw. The two outside implants are angled below the gum surface so that the jaw has room to accommodate them, but the part that extends above the gum is straight so that the arch of replacement teeth easily slides into place.
All-on-Four implants can be placed within a short treatment timeframe, allowing patients to leave the dental office with a full set of teeth after a single appointment. If you’ve struggled with dentures, or even resigned yourself to going without teeth, consider the All-on-Four procedure as another possible solution.
To find out more about the All-on-Four procedure, please contact our Dallas dental implant center.