If you need full mouth implants to replace lost teeth, you’ll almost certainly be looking at ways to save money on your treatment. All-on-4 implants offer a more cost-effective solution as they require fewer implants in the jaw than traditional methods.
What are All-on-4 implants?
All-on-4, a registered trademark of Nobel Biocare, is a technique for replacing teeth using fewer implants than traditional methods. This technique has the following three traits:
1. As few as four implants per jaw
Whereas a full mouth of implants using traditional methods would require 8-10 implants per jaw, the All-on-4 technique uses just four. Sometimes five or six are needed on the upper jaw due to lower bone density.
2. Angled rear implants for optimum strength
Rather than being inserted vertically, the rear implants are at a 30-45 degree angle. This means even patients who have suffered bone loss should be eligible for All-on-4 without having to go through the costly and lengthy process of a bone graft.
3. The ability to be implanted and fitted in a day
This last trait has earned them the nickname ‘teeth in a day’, ‘smile in a day’ or ‘same day teeth’. This is a drastic improvement on traditional implant procedures which can take six months or more to complete with extensive recovery time at each step of the process.
All-on-4 dental implants offer many benefits over conventional implants and removable dentures. These include:
- Short treatment and recovery time
- Implants placed on the same day as extraction
- Comfortable and stable structure to support crowns and bridges
- Fixed in place – no need to remove for cleaning
- Don’t slip or fall out
- Suitable for patients with jaw bone loss
- Cheaper than traditional techniques that use 8-10 implants
Of course, there are also some drawbacks to this type of implant:
- Results may not be as good as with traditional implants
- Some people report problems with spitting or hissing while speaking
- Some dentists see it as a ‘shortcut’ to replacing teeth properly
- Not a fully customized solution
- A single implant failing can cause problems with the whole jaw
- The artificial gum bridge may feel bulky in your mouth
Keep reading for more information about each of these pros and cons and how they might affect you.
All-on-4 vs. dentures
The traditional way to replace a full jaw of teeth is with removable dentures. Also known as “false teeth”, these consist of a gum-colored acrylic base and teeth made from resin or porcelain.
Dentures fit over the gums and stay in place either with suction alone or with a dental adhesive. Properly fitting dentures shouldn’t require any adhesive.
However, the supporting bone shrinks over time as there are no teeth for it to hold in place, and this change of shape will cause dentures to become loose. This means they need to be replaced regularly to avoid discomfort and problems eating.
Removable dentures are custom-made to precisely fit the patient’s mouth. The upper denture covers the roof of the mouth and the lower one is a horseshoe shape to allow room for the tongue. They must be removed for cleaning, usually overnight (hence the cliché of false teeth in a glass on the bedside table).
In contrast, All-on-4 implants are fixed in place and should act just like natural teeth in terms of appearance, chewing, and comfort. There is no risk of them slipping out of place while the wearer is talking or eating.
Although the prosthetic teeth are fixed to an artificial gum, this covers only a small area of the real gum when compared to dentures. The join is hidden far enough behind the lips that it won’t be visible when you smile.
Dentures offer a clear cost benefit over any kind of implants but they do need to be replaced every five years on average.
All-on-4 vs. regular implants
The conventional way to replace a full jaw of teeth with implants would be with a combination of single-tooth implants and implant-supported dental bridges. Bridges allow several ‘teeth’ to be supported by one implant at each end instead of one implant per tooth. This technique usually requires 8-10 implants per jaw for a full set of replacement teeth.
You can read more about how traditional implants are fitted here.
While both techniques involve drilling sockets in the jaw bone, All-on-4 requires fewer implants. This makes the process quicker, easier, and more comfortable for the patient. It can also be considerably cheaper because of the reduction in time and materials required.
Aside from the lower cost, a big advantage of All-on-4 is the reduced treatment time. Dentures can be affixed as soon as the implants have been placed, rather than the patient having to wait six months or more for healing as is the case with traditional implants. Usually, temporary dentures are placed on the day of surgery and permanent ones are added a few months later.