Tooth loss can be devastating. By impairing one’s ability to chew properly, having multiple missing teeth may ultimately lead to malnutrition and other related health issues. The condition also can cause embarrassment and lower self-confidence levels as it negatively impacts the quality of one’s speech and the appearance of their smile. Removable dentures previously were the only option available to fully edentulous patients in the San Marcos area who had lost most or all of their teeth.
Thanks to advancements in dental implant technology, there is now an alternative. All-On-4 implant dentures make it possible for patients to once again have full, fixed, non-removable sets of top and bottom teeth which may work to improve their health and make them better prepared to face the world with a stunning smile. Dr. Jeffrey Allred of Allred Dental in San Marcos, CA explains how this innovative treatment is changing lives.
What is All-On-4?
As its name suggests, All-On-4 is a full arch of custom-crafted prosthetic teeth. Similar to the process used with dental implants, All-On-4 requires that small, screw-like titanium posts be surgically placed into the jaw bone. In most cases, a pair of posts are implanted vertically near the front on the jaw and another pair is angled along the sides (for a total of four implants) in order to create a complete set of upper or lower teeth. When the entire mouth is restored, as many as eight implants may be required. Made of high-quality porcelain, acrylic, or composite materials, arches of prosthetic teeth are placed atop the posts to restore proper function and an aesthetically pleasing appearance to the mouth.
All-On-4 is different from traditional dentures in that the teeth are secured to the jaw. Dentures, on the other hand, are affixed with an adhesive which makes them prone to slippage, especially while eating and speaking. Most wearers remove them at night and must follow special care instructions in order to keep them clean and functional. One of the biggest complaints that San Marcos area patients have about dentures is the need to forgo certain hard-to-eat foods such as popcorn, raw apples, and sticky sweets, which are difficult to chew or have pieces that can become lodged beneath the appliance. This may cause dentures to move around in the mouth and feel uncomfortable. These issues are not a concern for All-On-4 patients, whose prosthetic teeth are fixed in place so that they function and can be cared for in exactly the same way as natural teeth.
The implant process
With a thorough oral examination, Dr. Jeffrey Allred of Allred Dental in San Marcos, CA, will be able to determine whether you are a good candidate for All-On-4. The jaw bone must be healthy and strong enough to support the titanium implants. If volume is lacking due to previous bone loss, it may be necessary to conduct a bone graft to build up and strengthen the jaw bone before the posts can be implanted. This may result in additional time to complete the entire All-On-4 process.
Digital x-rays and CT scans of your mouth will be taken and physical impressions might possibly be made. These will be sent to our in-house lab, where your prosthetic teeth will be custom created. An individualized treatment plan will be devised for you, which will designate precisely where the implants will be placed in your jaw. Those sites will be numbed before the surgery begins. Small incisions will be made on your gums to access the jaw bone. Using a surgical drill, small holes will be made in the bone into which the implant posts will be placed. The sites will be sutured closed so that the healing process, which may last between two and nine months, can commence. During this time, the jaw bone will bond with the implant. Also, your All-On-4 arches will be crafted.
Depending on the patient’s oral health, additional implant components may be added following the placement of the posts. In most cases, that will include installing a set of temporary teeth that allow patients in the San Marcos area to continue with their normal life and activities during the months that their jaw is healing.
What to expect during recovery
Some bleeding is normal during the first hours following surgery. Patients may experience slight bruising and swelling, which may worsen for 2-3 days after surgery before it begins to subside. Over-the-counter medication may be used to alleviate pain and other symptoms. During this time, it also may be necessary to eat a restricted diet of soft foods. It is important to keep the mouth clean. About 24 hours after surgery, you may begin to gently rinse with a saltwater solution, or Dr. Allred may prescribe a medicated rinse to promote healing. Only a soft brush should be gently used on the surgical sites until they are healed. Strenuous activity should be avoided in the days immediately after surgery, including normal exercise. Patients should refrain from smoking following implant surgery as this can impede healing and may increase the risk of having the implants fail in the future.
Placing your new teeth
Once healing is complete, during a future procedure, devices called abutments will be screwed onto the top of the implant posts to serve as a stable base for the All-On-4 arches. These will be affixed to the abutments. Dr. Allred will check to ensure that the arches fit well and that your bite is correct. Unlike dental implants used to restore single teeth or a small bridge to close a gap, All-On-4 restorations are crafted to include glimpses of the gums that inhabit spaces between the teeth. They are noted for their ability to closely resemble the appearance and function of natural teeth. Their durability helps to make them a long-lasting alternative to traditional dentures.
Is All-On-4 right for you?
For patients who have long struggled with the health concerns and self-confidence issues that can result when all or the majority of their teeth are missing, All-On-4 implants can be truly transformative. Able to restore form and function to the mouth, their benefits are innumerable. Contact Dr. Jeffrey Allred of Allred Dental in San Marcos, CA, to begin your journey toward discovering a new-and-improved you!