Dental implants are now considered to be, by far, the best method of replacing a lost tooth. Unlike partial dentures, dental implants are attached to a titanium ‘root’ which is held in place by the jawbone in the same manner as a natural tooth would be. This provides a strong base upon which a crown can be attached, offering a replacement tooth that should last for a minimum of 25 years, and very often much longer.
This is all very well, you may say, but wouldn’t having a number of these placed be fairly expensive? The answer to this is that, yes, it could prove to be quite costly, however, in cases where a full arch of teeth is missing, dental implants also provide a more cost effective option through the use of a technique known as all-on-four.
All On Four
The all on four procedure uses, as the name suggests, four dental implants. Two of these are placed at the front of the jaw and are placed at the standard ninety degree angle. The other two however, which are placed at the rear of the mouth, are placed at a forty five degree angle, and it is this which gives them extra stability.
Once these have been placed, a fixed bridge is then attached and the patient can leave the dental practice with a brand new full set of teeth.
Dentures v. All On Four
The inevitable question arises as to why bother with this procedure; why not, instead simply have dentures fitted.
The reality is that an All On Four procedure has a number of major advantages over dentures.
Dentures can be uncomfortable to wear. Because there are no actual teeth left in the jawbone, the density of the bone in this area will decrease a little over time. This in turn changes the shape of a person’s face and causes the dentures to become ill fitting. Because of the use of dental implants, the jawbone will not deteriorate in the same manner.
Once the dental implants have become fully established, there should be no limits on what the wearer can eat. The fixed bridge that is attached to the implants gives excellent strength and, unlike dentures, there is no need to avoid any food at all that you enjoy.
One of the biggest benefits that most people enjoy from All On Four is that you can almost consider them to be the same as natural teeth. Unlike dentures, which have to be removed at night and soaked; with a fixed bridge attached to the dental implants, you simply brush your teeth as you would if they were your own. It should be noted that, although these are natural teeth, and therefore will not decay, there is still a risk of gum disease if the area around them is not cleaned, so attention should be paid to this as gum disease, if left unchecked, could result in the failure of the implants.
Whilst having a fixed bridge attached with dental implants provides a very secure set of teeth with which to eat; it also means that there is no potential for your teeth to become loose, or worse still, fall out, as can happen with dentures. We have all probably seen films of cartoons where this happens and, whilst this may be a somewhat exaggerated, the fact is that dentures do have a tendency to move around in the mouth and can make speech difficult and cause social embarrassment for some.
Finally, for those that refuse to give up their dentures, the All-On-4 procedure can also be used to stabilise dentures. Using a very similar technique, the dental implants are placed and your dentures can then be attached to them. This means that you can continue to wear your own dentures but in the knowledge that they are held securely in place and will not come loose or fall out.
- License: Image author owned
- License: Image author owned
By Nick Davison
Nick Davison is passionate about dental care and cosmetic dentistry, he also writes about a number of other health related issues. Read more of Nick’s articles on Google Plus.