Why All-on-4 Treatment Concept?
Your teeth are an essential feature of your mouth. When you suffer tooth loss, all of these functions and your overall quality of life are greatly affected. Having your missing teeth replaced is important for giving you back your life. For decades, restoring missing teeth meant dentures. Today, you have more options. With the accidental discovery of osseointegration in the 1950s, and years of research and development, there are now dental implants. Dental implants offer a substantial number of benefits over traditional tooth replacement options and can be used to replace any number of missing teeth, from one to all of them. While a highly popular, and highly effective treatment, implants require a sufficient amount of bone mass to be in your bones before you can undergo treatment. Without enough bone mass left, implants could fail. This used to mean either you would have to go with dentures, or undergo another surgical procedure to replace bone mass. At Implant and Periodontal Wellness Center of Arizona, we offer the All-on-4® Treatment Concept.
Effects of Tooth Loss
Tooth loss has many causes. Some of the most common causes include gum disease, bruxism, smoking, tooth decay, and facial trauma. Your teeth are responsible for some different essential functions, and when you lose your teeth, they are all negatively impacted. One of the most obvious consequences that come with losing your teeth is the impact that it has on your smile. A diminished smile can also lead to a loss of confidence, as you do everything that you can to hide your mouth from the view of others. What’s more is that your lips and cheeks begin to sink in, which can cause you to look years older than you are.
Tooth loss affects your ability to eat. Your teeth play a crucial role in the first stage of digestion. They break down the foods you eat. In doing so, your teeth help to make the essential nutrients of the foods more readily available, and easier to absorb by the body. When you lose your teeth, it becomes significantly more difficult to break down the things you eat. As a result, your body cannot absorb essential nutrients, which can ultimately lead to malnutrition.
Tooth loss also impacts your speech. Your teeth play a vital role in speech by controlling your airflow, which allows you to make certain sounds and say specific sounds. Without your teeth, there is no way to control the flow of air while you are talking. It becomes more difficult to speak, and others have a harder time understanding you.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are the latest option available for replacing missing teeth. They got their start back in the 1960s after a Swedish orthopedic surgeon accidentally discovered that bone would fuse to implanted titanium, a process called osseointegration. Dental implants are small titanium rods, which are surgically inserted into the jawbone. As your bone fuses to the implants, they become strong, stable, “roots” which are then used to support your replacement teeth. Dental implants can be used to replace any number of missing teeth, from a single tooth to an entire arch. For patients having an entire arch replaced (whether it is the top arch or the bottom arch), 6 to 8 implants are used, their optimal placement based on x-rays that we take of your mouth. However, this treatment is not ideal for everyone.
Bone Density and Dental Implants
Tooth loss has several obvious effects. There is also another effect of tooth loss that cannot be seen. Your teeth play a critical role in maintaining the strength of your jawbone. They stimulate the bone, which lets your body know that nutrients are needed there. When you lose your teeth, this stimulation in the bone is lost. Your body stops sending as many nutrients, dispersing them elsewhere instead. Over time, your jawbone begins to resorb and weaken. It starts to change shape, which can also contribute to the alterations in your face shape.
Dental implants mimic the functions of the roots of your teeth. Because they are embedded in the jaw, they stimulate the bone, helping to put an end to the bone loss that inevitably follows tooth loss. However, dental implants require that you have a certain amount of bone mass in your jaw to place them successfully. If you have lost too much bone mass following tooth loss, your jaw may not be strong enough to support the 6 to 8 implants necessary to support an implant supported a denture. Even if only one implant fails, your entire implant supported denture is compromised.
It used to be that if you did not have the bone mass necessary for dental implants, your options became very restricted, one of them being dentures. While technological developments have made dentures significantly more natural in appearance and much more comfortable, they have several disadvantages. Dentures require additional care every night, which can be both tedious and time-consuming. These restorations rely on your gums for support, and they can slip out of place. This can lead to rather embarrassing situations as well as painful denture sores. Quite possibly the biggest disadvantage of dentures, however, is that even though they replace many of the essential functions of your teeth, they do not stimulate the jawbone. This means that, even though you have functioning teeth, your jawbone still resorbs and changes shape. Because your dentures are made out of a hard, acrylic material from molds of your mouth, they will not change when your jawbone changes. Eventually, your dentures will need to be replaced.
What Is the All-on-4® Treatment Concept?
All-on-4 allows patients typically considered ineligible for dental implants an opportunity to enjoy the benefits. Made for those who have already experienced bone loss and cannot support the 6 to 8 implants necessary for a typical implant supported denture, All-on-4 relies on the strategic placement of only four dental implants. Two of the implants are placed toward the front of the jaw, where there is naturally more bone mass. They are inserted vertically. The other two implants are placed toward the back of the jaw, one on each side. These implants are inserted at a 45-degree angle, which helps to maximize contact between the implant and the existing jawbone. When this treatment is used in your upper jaw, this angle allows the implants to miss the maxillary sinus cavities.
Avoid a Bone Graft
Before the introduction of the All-on-4® Treatment Concept, if you still wanted to avoid dentures and receive dental implants, you would need to undergo a bone graft procedure. A bone graft is a surgical procedure that takes bone mass from elsewhere in your body (usually your hip, tibia, or chin), or from a donor, and places it in the weakened areas of your jaw. In some instances, a bone graft substitute is used. As you heal from surgery, your jawbone fuses to (or around) the donor material, effectively restoring the strength and shape of your jaw. A bone graft is also used to perform a sinus lift surgery in the upper jaw. With this particular procedure, the floor of the sinus cavity is lifted, and the donor material is placed in the space. This allows for dental implants to be inserted without puncturing the sinus cavities.
After healing from a bone graft, surgery for dental implants can begin. While this treatment is effective, it can take several months (sometimes as long as a year) to heal from surgery. Then you undergo another surgical procedure to place the dental implants, and it will still be another several months before you heal from this surgery and receive your final restoration. With All-on-4, the need for a bone graft is eliminated. The implants are placed in such a way as to take advantage of the bone mass you have. Instead of healing from two surgeries, you only need to worry about healing from one. This means that you will not have to wait as long to receive your final replacement teeth, and you can get back to your life as normal that much faster.
Restore the Functions of Your Mouth
With All-on-4, all of the major functions of your teeth are restored. First, you can once again chew your food properly, breaking it down so that your body can more easily access and absorb vital nutrients. Along with proper chewing being able to improve your digestion, they can also greatly help to improve your overall nutrition.
Replacing your teeth with All-on-4 dental implants helps to improve your speech significantly. Your teeth are important for controlling your airflow as you speak. They also provide a surface for your tongue to touch while speaking. All of these things help you to say specific words and sounds. With All-on-4 dental implants, the speaking functions of your teeth are restored. Moreover, unlike dentures, you do not need to worry about your replacement teeth slipping out of place, causing a lisp or other embarrassing situation. Instead, the implants hold your replacement teeth securely in place.
Traditional dentures rely on your gums for support. Your gums are not designed to support such a structure, and having your dentures there can restrict blood flow and cause discomfort. Leaving your dentures out at night provides the tissue with an opportunity to rest and heal, but this is often not enough. Also, even properly fitting dentures can still occasionally slip out of place and rub against your gums, which can then lead to painful denture sores. This can make wearing your dentures, and using them for their intended purpose, very painful.
With the All-on-4® Treatment Concept, your replacement teeth do not rest on your gums. Instead, they are supported by the implants that are surgically embedded into your jawbone, meaning that there is no additional stress added to the gum tissue. Moreover, because your replacement teeth are secured in place on the implants with screws, there is no worry about them slipping out of place or causing sores.
Non-Removable and Easy to Care For
Dentures are notorious for requiring extra care every night. They needed to be removed every night for care and brushed using a special denture paste. Toothpaste contains abrasives that can leave microscopic scratches on dentures, providing an ideal hideout for oral bacteria. They then must be soaked overnight. In addition to caring for your dentures, you still need to take care of the rest of your mouth as well.
With All-on-4, your replacement teeth are held securely in place with screws. They are not designed to be removed for cleaning, nor do they have to be. Instead, your restoration can, and should, be cared for just like your natural teeth. They should be brushed at least twice a day (regular toothpaste is fine to use) and flossed at least once a day. Along with at home care, regular dental visits are also important. With regular care, your implants function properly and remain strong.
Protecting the Strength of Your Jawbone
Even though dentures replace many of the essential functions of your teeth, they cannot stimulate the jawbone. This means that your jaw will continue to lose bone mass, and ultimately change shape. Dentures are made from a hard material, and cannot change shape to keep up with the changes of your jaw. Because of this, your dentures will begin to fit poorly and will need replacing.
The implants used for All-on-4 not only provide support for your replacement teeth, but they also provide stimulation for the jawbone. As a result, your body receives the message that nutrients are required. This puts a stop to bone loss, preventing further deterioration, and helps it to maintain its shape and strength.
Whether you are currently wearing dentures, you have just lost your teeth, or you have been living without teeth for a while now, dental implants can help to greatly improve all aspects of your life, from your smile to eating, even your overall health as well. However, if your jaw has been deemed unsuitable for a typical implant supported a denture, you may still be eligible for the All-on-4® Treatment Concept. Contact Implant and Periodontal Wellness Center of Arizona today at (480) 504-0506 to learn more and schedule your appointment today.