When replacing your missing smile with either All-On-4 or All-On-6 dental implants, you should only choose which option is best for you.
Most dentists agree that the best way to replace missing teeth is with dental implants. After a tooth is extracted, a person's jaw starts rapidly changing in response. The jaw depends on the daily chewing force of teeth to keep it strong and healthy. Without this stimulation, the alveolar bone meant to support the teeth starts breaking down and shrinking in the resorption process. Dental implants are inserted directly into the jaw, providing almost the same amount of pressure as real teeth. Unlike a dental bridge or dentures, which rest on top of the gums, implants are the only dental prosthetic that stop bone resorption in its tracks.
While a traditional tooth implant replaces a single tooth, modified versions enable patients to replace all of their teeth at once. The most popular are All-On-4 and All-On-6 dental implants. All-On implants are made of three main components:
Implants. The implant is the titanium root inserted directly into the jaw to help anchor the teeth. While traditional implants use a single implant for each tooth, All-Ons require multiple implants to give enough support for the whole dental prosthetic.
Abutments. Abutments are the metal connectors keeping the entire dental prosthetic together. They hook onto the implant posts and give a base for the denture to attach itself to.
Denture prosthetic. The denture is the final crowning piece that fully restores your bite's look and function. Unlike standard dentures, this prosthetic is not removable but is instead screwed into the abutments to replace the missing teeth permanently.
What Type Of Dental Implants Are Best?
When patients decide they want to replace an entire arch of teeth with a tooth implant rather than denture, the question comes down to, “Should I get All-On-4 or All-On-6? What is the difference?” All-on-4 dental implants, as their name implies, secure an entire row of false teeth on four dental implants. These implants are placed at strategic positions throughout the jaw to keep an even amount of pressure to keep your bite and supportive jawbone healthy.
All-On-6 dental implants use six rather than four implants to support your false teeth. With more implants in use, All-On-6 teeth implants give you a more balanced and powerful bite. This can allow eating to be easier without working as hard to chew your meals properly.
Six implants also give your prosthetic greater stability by keeping the underlying alveolar bone stronger. They provide greater pressure along the jaw, maintaining more of the natural bone. While resorption can only be stopped if there is an implant for every missing tooth, increasing the number of implants used better slows down the bone loss process. As the jaw stays in better shape, these denture implants fit much more comfortably over time and can potentially last longer.
If six implants are better than four, why are All-On-4 implants recommended for patients instead? Some advantages All-On-4’s have over their counterparts include:
Reduced cost from fewer implants
Shorter recovery time
Easier to clean and maintain, particularly when flossing
Less jawbone tissue is needed overall, meaning fewer bone graft surgeries are required
Am I Too Old For Implants?
There is no age limit for implants, even if you need to have an entire smile replaced with false teeth. Even at 90 or 95 years old, patients' mouths heal at about the same rate as those who are much younger. As long as you have a generally healthy smile and body and are missing all of your teeth, you are generally a great candidate for All-On implants. Those with prior oral health problems will need to have them treated before starting the implant process.
Waiting too long between teeth extraction and your dental implant procedure can also put a setback in your prosthetic plans. Even if you had dentures or bridges in the time between, jawbone loss will still have made your jaw shrink and weaken. Dental implants need a healthy and robust base to support them. Otherwise, they can slip and ultimately fail. Bone resorption starts relatively quickly after teeth are pulled. The first signs of your changing jaw can appear within six weeks. After a whole year, up to a quarter of the original bone can be lost.
Some patients may find that they don’t have the required bone mass even if they wanted to start the implant process right away. These patients typically had their teeth pulled due to gum disease. Late-stage gum disease attacks and destroys the connective ligaments and alveolar bone anchoring the teeth. If there isn’t enough bone to hold the natural tooth steady, then there isn’t enough for a titanium implant either.
What Happens If You Don't Have Enough Bone For Dental Implants?
You're not barred from getting implants if you don't have the required amount of bone foundation. You will just need a preliminary bone graft surgery* to prepare your mouth. This procedure replaces the missing bone tissue with transplanted material, which integrates with the natural jaw and reinforces it. Grafts also help your jaw create new bone tissue to strengthen it further. Grafting material typically comes from one of three sources:
Your own bone taken elsewhere in the jaw
Donations made either by other people or by animals
Bone grafting is an incredibly commonplace procedure done before a periodontist can place the implant. About half of all dental implant patients need at least one bone graft beforehand. Those getting All-On prosthetics often require multiple grafts to support some of all of their titanium implants.
Depending on how many surgeries you need, your dental implant timeline will be set back a few months to half a year. It’s critical to an implant’s success that we don’t rush the recovery process. If enough time isn’t given for the transplant to integrate with the jaw, then the implant won’t fuse correctly with the surrounding bone. The implant can slip, loosen, or become infected, meaning your implant will fail before it has the chance to truly start.
How Long Does It Take To Heal?
The dental implant process is not one to be done hastily. Slow and steady does win the race with this teeth replacement option. While 90 to 95% of all dental implant procedures succeed without any complications, the very few that do often fail within the first year from rushing patients' recoveries. Overall, the dental implant process typically takes between six months to a year, giving enough time to heal between each surgery:
Bone graft: three to four months for the bones to integrate, if required
Implant: four to six months for the implant to fuse to the jaw
Abutment: two to four weeks, unless abutment and implant are placed simultaneously
Crown: no recovery time needed
How Do You Care For Dental Implants?
Dental implants are the longest-lasting tooth replacement option available. The fixed denture can last up to 20 years, and the implants themselves can last you a lifetime. However, to get the most out of them, you must take excellent care of them. To keep your All-On implants clean, you should:
Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. Electric toothbrushes allow you to clean more effectively in circular motions.
Use a waterpik or water flosser to remove any debris trapped between your false teeth and gums.
Use a rubber tip gum stimulator to clear any stragglers stuck around the gum line, preventing them from attaching to the implant.
No matter how good a brusher or flosser you are, you should still make sure to visit your dentist for a dental cleaning regularly. Your hygienist will remove any plaque that may have built up on your implants and ensure your mouth stays healthy.
How Much Do Dental Implants Cost?
There is a lot that goes into a patient’s dental implant procedure. Your smile’s specific needs and goals determine the number of implants used, whether initial treatments are necessary, and the overall timeline. As such, your dental implant cost is dependent upon several key factors:
Type of full mouth dental implants
Whether a local anesthetic or dental sedation will be used
Cost of tooth extraction, if necessary
Cost of bone grafting, if necessary
Many of these factors directly affect each other. For example, All-on-4 implants usually cost less because they require fewer implants and surgeries to be performed. As a result, patients who need grafting may also require more bone grafts to support each implant.
Dental insurance typically does not cover dental implants. However, our dental office offers alternative financing options for our patients to ensure their denture implants are affordable. For an exact pricing or consultation, you can call our dental office in South Pasadena at (NUMBER) to schedule an appointment with our prosthodontist team. We can go over the expected specifics of your treatment and plan the whole process.