All-on-four dental implants are a set of permanent teeth that attach to 4 dental implants. Unlike dentures, all-on-four dental implants are fixed teeth that stay in your mouth at all times. All-on-four teeth replace all of your missing teeth within the respective arch (upper or lower jaws). They offer you the full support and chewing efficiency of having all of your teeth back. Plus, all-on-four implants aren’t as expensive and complicated as full mouth dental implants. The teeth are made from porcelain or Zirconia, and they are screwed and locked onto your implants. The permanent teeth are supported by just four dental implants, which explains the name all-on-four.
All-on-4 teeth vs. dentures and full mouth dental implants
All-on-four teeth is priced between dentures and full mouth dental implants. For those who can afford them, all-on-four dental implants are the ideal compromise. The table below shows why more and more patients choose all-on-4 teeth and how it compares favorably to both dentures and full mouth dental implants:
|All-on-4 Teeth||Dentures||Full Mouth Dental Implants|
|Material||Pink & White Porcelain or Zirconia||Pink & White Acrylic||Porcelain or Zirconia|
|Treatment Times||Up to 9 months||1 month||Up to 3 years|
Is all-on-four implants a good option for me?
We don’t just wake up one day and decide to spend tens-of-thousands of dollars replacing our missing teeth with all-on-four dental implants. Typically, people who choose all-on-four teeth have had dental problems throughout their entire life. Some have already lost all of their teeth and are now struggling with dentures. Others have spent thousands and thousands of dollars replacing their teeth, only to have them break and fail year after year. For this latter group, getting their teeth removed and replaced with all-on-four teeth is nothing short of a blessing! With all-on-4 dental implants you no longer have to worry about cavities, deep cleanings or root canals. Here’s how you can decide if you’re a good candidate for all-on-four teeth:
(1) You want to replace all of your missing teeth with fixed teeth instead of removable ones
All-on-4 teeth is a great solution if you’re not happy with your current dentures. Since all-on-four teeth are fixed in your mouth, they are very similar to having natural teeth. With all-on-four teeth, you can eat, chew, speak and function as if you had your original teeth back.
(2) Your jawbone is too weak
Having weak jawbones your dentures loose and uncomfortable. At the same time, it’s very difficult to receive full mouth dental implants if you have weak jawbone. You will require extensive preparation, including multiple bone grafts and other augmentaion surgeries to receive full mouth dental implants. In contrast, the majority of people are good candidates for all-on-four dental implants. All-on-four teeth uses the high-quality jawbone in the anterior region, bypassing the need for extensive bone augmentation. This means that you can receive a set of stable, permanent teeth without having to undergo multiple surgeries.
(3) The best bang for your buck
All-on-four teeth are not cheap by any means. However, they are far less expensive than full mouth dental implants which typically costs twice as much. When compared to dentures, all-on-4 teeth offer far superior chewing capability, aesthetics, and overall function. Plus, all-on-four teeth last you a lifetime whereas dentures require frequent replacement. When you consider the lifetime cost of dentures, a lot of times it makes sense to invest in all-on-4 teeth instead, especially if you are relatively young still.
(4) You’re only missing teeth in one arch
Some people lose all of their upper teeth but have most of their lower teeth intact, or vice versa. If this applies to you, then you’re going to have a very hard time getting used to wearing dentures. The bite pressure from natural teeth destroys your denture. Plus, chewing with dentures on natural teeth is very uncomfortable. These cases are ideal candidates for all-on-four dental implants. All-on-four teeth provide stable opposing teeth so you can eat, chew and function comfortably again.
(5) You have managed to find a qualified implant dentist
Only a small percentage of dentists offer dental implants, and even a smaller percentage offer all-on-four teeth. Only very experienced general dentists, periodontists, prosthodontists, and oral surgeons are qualified to perform all-on-four treatment. So before committing to all-on-four teeth, be sure that you have found a reliable, experienced dentist who can perform your treatment with high success rates and minimal coimplications.
When is all-on-four teeth NOT a good option?
Despite its many benefits, all-on-four teeth is not always your best option. Sometimes it’s better to save your own teeth, wear dentures, or receive full mouth dental implants instead. Here are some scenarios where all-on-4 dental implants may not be the best solution:
(1) You still have plenty of healthy teeth
Generally speaking, if you have 6 or more healthy teeth in one arch, then there are other options than all-on-four teeth. If you only have 1, 2 or 3 healthy teeth left in an arch, then it’s better to sacrifice these teeth and receive all-on-four dental implants. However, when you have 6 or more healthy teeth, you should consider individual dental implants instead of all-on-4 teeth. Not only will this cost far less, but it’s easier, gives you better taste, function and proprioception. Now, by saying healthy teeth, we mean teeth that don’t suffer from advanced gum disease or extensive tooth decay. If your remaining teeth are loose or severely decayed, then all-on-4 is still the better way to go.
(2) You want your new teeth exactly as they were before you lost them
There’s no question that all-on-four teeth are beautiful, natural-looking, and fabulous! However, the all-on-4 teeth are connected to one another as one piece. Plus, they have pink gum tissue that shows when your lips are retracted. If you want your dental implants to look exactly like your actual teeth used to look, then you have to go with full mouth dental implants instead.
(3) You’re happy wearing dentures
Not every denture wearer dislikes wearing false teeth. Some denture wearers do extremely well with their false teeth and don’t mind wearing them at all. These people talk, eat, and function with their dentures as if they had natural teeth and you wouldn’t know it unless they told you. Investing in all-on-four teeth doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for those who are content with their dentures.
(4) You can’t afford it
At $15,000 to $40,000 per arch, all-on-four teeth are be no means inexpensive. If you can’t afford permanent teeth you might want to consider implant-denture dentures instead. By placing just a few implants you can stabilize your dentures. This allows you to secure your false teeth without having to spend a fortune.
(5) You can’t find the right dentist
If you’re in the market for all-on-four teeth, chances are you need to look to look for a new dentist. Only a small percentage of dentists offer all-on-four teeth. You need to find a dentist who is experienced with placing and restoring dental implants. Look for a very experienced general dentist, prosthodontist, periodontist, or oral surgeon who have experience with all-on-four dental implants. Replacing your teeth with all-on-four dental implants is a big decision. However, there is no price you can put on having your teeth and smile back again!