Flashing a stunning smile can make patients feel more confident and self-assured. Having a full set of teeth without any gaps can also make eating and speaking more natural and comfortable. While the goal of dental care is to help patients retain their natural teeth, that is not always possible. All-on-4® treatment may enable patients to restore their smile when they are missing most or all of their natural teeth.
How is All-on-4® Treatment Different from Dentures?
Dentures are designed to fit over the gums and replace a full upper or lower arch of teeth. They are removed for cleaning and while sleeping, and adhesive may be used to help keep them in place. All-on-4® is a fixed option where the replacement arch is anchored to the jaw using as few as four dental implants, and it does not need to be removed for daily care.
What are the Benefits of All-on-4® Treatment?
- All-on-4® dental implants require less bone volume than traditional implants because of how the implants are positioned.
- As few as four implants may be needed to hold an entire arch of teeth in place.
- Replacement teeth are secured to the jawbone and do not need to be removed for daily cleaning or while sleeping.
- The All-on-4® concept helps prevent bone loss and maintain facial structure because dental implants stimulate the jaw.
- Dental prosthetics secured using the All-on-4® technique will not shift out of place or move around while patients are eating, speaking, or laughing.
- All-on-4® treatment may be more cost-effective in the long term than dentures or other tooth replacement options that need to be replaced more frequently.
Ideal Candidates for All-on-4® Treatment
All-on-4® treatment is not a one-size-fits-all procedure. Every patient is different, and there are many factors that are taken into consideration when determining if a patient would be a good candidate for this procedure. Dr. Cherry will first review a patient’s medical and dental history. He will conduct a thorough exam, which will include current imaging, and will discuss the patient’s goals for treatment. In general, there are two overarching requirements when it comes to All-on-4® treatment:
- Missing Teeth: Ideally, patients should be missing most, or all of their teeth since the All-on-4® concept replaces the full upper or lower arch. Some patients may already have traditional dentures and are looking for a more stable, secure option. Other patients may be facing multiple tooth extractions and are looking ahead at how to replace their missing teeth and restore their smile.
- Good Health: Patients should be in overall good health before considering surgery, and any chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure should be well managed. Dr. Cherry works closely with referring dentists to understand the patient’s dental history, and patients should answer questions about their medical history honestly. Patients should be willing to quit smoking for a few weeks before surgery and several weeks after, as smoking can interfere with the healing process and increase the risk of implant failure. It is important that the oral surgeon and staff have all the necessary information to create a safe and effective treatment plan.
Getting Started with All-on-4® Treatment
Patients who are thinking about All-on-4® treatment or have been referred to an oral surgeon by their dentist should start by scheduling a consultation. Dr. Cherry takes the time to talk with patients and understand their concerns regarding missing teeth or their current dentures or bridges. He also discusses their goals for treatment and their desired outcome to help determine if All-on-4® is a good option.
A thorough examination of the gums, jaw, and any remaining teeth is performed, and a cone beam is used to take detailed pictures to create a 3D image of the mouth. This model allows Dr. Cherry to see if there is adequate bone available and to determine where the implants should be placed to support dental prosthetics. He also collaborates with the dentist to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that encompasses any additional procedures that may be necessary, such as the fabrication of temporary and permanent replacement arches and follow-up care.
Dr. Cherry answers any questions or concerns the patient may have so that they know what to expect before, during, and after surgery and can plan accordingly. He also discusses sedation options to make the process as comfortable as possible for the patient.
The All-on-4® Procedure Explained
Dr. Cherry creates a detailed treatment plan before surgery identifying the precise location and positioning of each dental implant. Implants placed near the front of the mouth are often inserted vertically, while those near the back are often placed at an angle. As few as four implants may be needed, but some patients require more for proper stability and to securely anchor the dental prosthetic.
A local anesthetic is used to numb the gums, and sedation is administered to keep the patient relaxed and calm. Any remaining teeth may be extracted prior to All-on-4® surgery or during the procedure. Patients will need to wait until the gums have healed before moving forward with dental implant placement if a tooth extraction is performed ahead of time.
Dr. Cherry will then make an incision in the gum to expose the jawbone and drill a small hole to insert the implant. This will be done for each implant site on the upper and lower jaw. Advanced technology is used to guide this process and accurately position the implants. The gums are secured around the implants, and a connector called an abutment is placed on top and sticks out through the gums.
The length of the surgery depends on how many dental implants are being placed and whether any tooth extractions or other procedures are necessary. Patients may not be fully awake during surgery depending on the level of sedation, and they may feel some pressure but should not feel any pain.
Often a temporary arch can be placed on the same day allowing patients to leave the office with a full set of teeth. The dental prosthetic is designed with connectors that align with the dental implants so that the prosthetic screws are secured into place and will not fall out.
Post-Op and Recovery Timeline
Post-operative instructions will be provided, and Dr. Cherry and his staff are available to answer any questions that may arise before the patient is discharged or once they are home. Over-the-counter pain relievers may be taken to manage any discomfort after the anesthetic has worn off, and ice packs may be intermittently applied to the cheeks to minimize any pain or swelling.
Many patients begin to feel better within a few days. Even though patients will have a temporary prosthetic in place, a soft food diet is recommended until the implants have fully fused with the jawbone. Foods that require little to no chewing, such as mashed potatoes, yogurt, oatmeal, or pureed soups, are good options to start. Patients can slowly incorporate steamed vegetables, well-cooked pasta, and other soft foods as they heal.
Patients may be able to resume a normal diet with some limitations more quickly with the All-on-4® treatment than with traditional implants because the impact of biting and chewing is distributed across all of the implants rather than on a single implant. It will take 3-4 months for the dental implants to fuse with the bone fully. Dr. Cherry will make sure that the implants are healing properly during follow-up appointments. A permanent replacement arch can be placed after recovery is complete, leaving the patient with a fully functional smile.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Risks Associated with the Surgery for All-on-4®?
There is some level of risk associated with any surgical procedure, but All-on-4® surgery is generally considered to be relatively safe and effective. Antibiotics are often prescribed to minimize the risk of post-operative infection. Many patients may be concerned about experiencing pain during surgery. Still, several sedation options are available to keep patients as comfortable as possible, and sedation can be safely administered in the office.
Some patients may experience numbness or tingling around their mouth or chin after surgery because there are nerves that run along the jaw close to where the implants are placed. Any changes in sensation typically resolve on their own, but patients should notify Dr. Cherry of any numbness or tingling.
Dr. Cherry will address specific concerns during a one-on-one consultation, as risks will vary from one patient to the next. He will carefully review each patient’s medical history to develop a personalized treatment plan and minimize potential risks.
What Can I Use for Teeth While the Implants Heal?
One of the advantages of All-on-4® treatment is that many patients leave the office with a full set of teeth the same day. A temporary replacement arch will be attached to the dental implants while they heal and while the permanent arches are being fabricated. Temporary prosthetics allow patients to eat softer foods and to feel more confident in their appearance because they take the place of missing teeth. Patients should continue to avoid eating hard, tough, or crunchy foods until the dental implants are fully integrated into the jawbone.
Patients should keep in mind that temporary teeth are just a placeholder during the healing process. Their permanent replacement arches will be custom designed as far as size, shape, and color of the teeth as well as fit to complement their appearance.
How Long Will the Implants Last?
Dental implants may last for years to come with proper care and maintenance. Patients should continue to brush and floss daily, as well as have regular annual checkups and professional cleanings. As technology has improved, dental implants have become a long-lasting solution to replace missing teeth and provide a strong, stable foundation for implant-retained dentures.
Clinical studies have shown that dental implants may have a success rate of 95% or higher over 40 to 50 years. They tend to outperform other tooth replacement options, such as tooth-supported bridges, which have an average lifespan of around 10 years.
Dr. Cherry supports patients in understanding the risks and benefits of All-on-4® treatment as well as other tooth replacement options so that they can make an informed decision that fits with their needs and goals.
Request a Consultation with Dr. Cherry
The All-on-4® treatment concept has enabled more patients to transform their smiles and improve their quality of life by providing them with a fixed alternative to traditional dentures. Dr. Cherry works closely with patients to determine if they are good candidates for All-on-4® and develop an individualized treatment plan. Contact Cherry Orchard Oral & Implant Surgery at (864) 603-2464 to schedule a consultation and learn more about the benefits of All-on-4® treatment.