Why are there so many types of dental implants, you ask? And what is this “All-On-4” business?
To understand what a All-On-4 dental implant is, you first need to know what an implant is. A dental implant is basically a small (usually titanium) screw that’s inserted into your jawbone in the space left by a missing tooth. Once the implant is placed in your mouth, your dentist will attach a fake tooth to the screw.
Now, multiply this idea by four and you get an All-On-4 dental implant. Instead of using an implant for every missing tooth, you can simply use four implants on top and four on the bottom as the main anchors. Then your dentist can attach a denture at those spots.
The Cost Of An All-On-4 Dental Implant
The cost of All-On-4 dental implants can vary depending on the material used and how many fake teeth you need. Another factor includes what your insurance plan may cover.
Acrylic Or Composite All-On-4 Dental Implants
The standard All-On-4 option involves using an acrylic denture built around a titanium framework. For this type of denture, it can cost between $20,000 and $30,000. Keep in mind, you go to more than one dentist for the procedure, it can end up costing more.
Porcelain All-On-4 Dental Implants
Dentures made of porcelain are more realistic looking and will last longer than acrylic, but these types may be an additional $5,000 per jaw. So the whole procedure and denture could end up costing between $25,000 and $35,000. Replacing a broken porcelain denture can cost roughly $15,000.
What’s The All-On-4 Dental Implant Procedure Like?
It can be scary to get implants for the first time. Most of that fear is probably due to the uncertainty, so here is the step-by-step process for getting an All-On-4 dental implant.
First, your dentist will want to make sure your comfortable, so either local or general anesthesia will be administered.
Second, the dentist or surgeon will prepare your mouth for the implants, which involves removing your remaining teeth that are failing. They will then remove any diseased or infected tissue from your jaw and gums.
Next, they will begin the implantation process. This means they will insert the titanium screws into your jawbone. Most likely, they will place two implants toward the front of your mouth and two towards the back of your mouth so the “anchors” can evenly bare the force of the denture.
After the implants have been placed, they will thoroughly clean the surgical sites and suturing all the incisions. Then you’ll be taken to a recovery room where you can relax and take time to wake up from the anesthesia.
All-On-4 Dental Implants Recovery Time
The recovery time after getting traditional dentures can range from 3 to 8 months, but after getting an All-On-4 denture, you should be functioning sooner. The reason is because the implants fuse to your bone and promote stability of the denture from the very first day.
Here’s what you can expect the recovery to look like starting the day of the procedure.
First Day Recovery
During the first hour after your recovery or until you stop bleeding, you will have had gauze packs placed over the areas of surgery — you should gently bite down on these to keep them in place. After the first hour, you may be asked to remove the gauze, unless there’s excessive bleeding, in which case your dentist will probably replace them with new gauze. After that, they’ll want you to change the gauze every 30-45 minutes.
When you go home from surgery, make sure you don’t do anything that would disturb the tender areas. Do not rinse or touch the surgical areas, except for gentle brushing with a soft toothbrush. And obviously, smoking afterwards (or in general) is a very bad idea if you want the surgical spots to heal well.
Although you should be extra gentle, it’s also important to keep your mouth as clean as possible. Your doctor will likely prescribe a medicated rinse to keep the bacterial load down in your mouth and help promote healing.
Twenty-four hours after surgery, if there’s minimal bleeding, you can gently rinse your mouth with saltwater. Just mix one tablespoon of salt with about eight ounces of water and rinse gently, allowing the water to drip from your mouth into the sink. You can do this 2-3 times per day.
The Days Following Surgery
In the time following the procedure, the main activities you’ll be doing should involve resting on a couch or bed. Things you shouldn’t be doing include bending over, lifting heavy objects, or any strenuous activities as it could lead to more bleeding and swelling.
Also, when transitioning from a lying down position to standing, it’s best to do so slowly. Otherwise, you could get lightheaded. If you normally exercise, you’ll need to avoid it for 3-4 days after surgery.
All-On-4 Dental Implants Photos
Common Post-Surgery Issues And How To Deal With Them
Here are some common issues you may experience in the days following surgery and how to care for your All-On-4 dental implants.
If you find that you have bleeding that won’t stop, this usually means you may be biting down on the gauze packs without them covering the surgical areas. Reposition the gauze and see if that helps.
If this does nothing and the bleeding continues, try sitting upright, avoid physical activity, and put ice packs on the outside of your mouth.
Then you can bite down on one for an hour or a moist black tea bag for about 30 minutes.
If this still doesn’t help, call your dentist to schedule an appointment.
Swelling is a normal part of getting surgery, and it will reach its climax about 2-3 days after the procedure. Using ice or a cold pack on your cheek within the 24 hours following the procedure can help control it (20 minutes on and 20 minutes off). Your dentist may prescribe you medication as well.
This is something that’s just unavoidable when dealing with surgery. Your dentist will have given you a prescription for pain medicine — take it as directed and it should help decrease the discomfort.
If you feel that you need more medicine to control the pain, call your dentist.
As long as the food you eat doesn’t cause more discomfort, it’s probably okay to eat. Though you should avoid any hard foods or candies or very hot foods, and chewing is not recommended if the sensation in your tongue has not returned. The best-case scenario is to consume only liquids or pureed foods for the first few days after surgery.
Most importantly, make sure your getting nutrition, no matter how inconvenient it may be. It’s crucial to your healing.
You may experience nausea or even vomiting from any accidentally swallowed blood or from any of the medicines you’ll be taking. Usually, a carbonated drink and some crackers can help tone down the sickness. If the nausea persists or gets severe, call your dentist for recommendations.
About 2-3 days after surgery, you may notice discoloration or bruising near the surgical areas (usually black, blue, and/or yellow). This is normal. After the first 36 hours after the procedure, you can apply moist heat to your cheek.
Sharp Sensations In Your Mouth
If you start to feel something sharp in your mouth, this could be the bony walls that used to support the now missing teeth. Small pieces of the bone may protrude from the gums after a few days. If it becomes uncomfortable or concerning, you can speak with your dentist.
It’s expected that your lips will become dry as your mouth will be slightly stretch from wearing gauze. You can use chapstick or some other hydrating ointment.
Because your mouth may be open most of the time because of the gauze, this can lead to a sore throat, making swallowing painful. This is a passing symptom, usually going away after a few days.
Your jaw muscles may become stiff, again because of the gauze keeping your jaw in the same position for long periods of time. To counteract this, you can gently and slowing stretch your jaw every once in a while.
Common Problems With All-On-4 Dental Implants
Sometimes after the healing process, you may run into problems. Here are the most common problems you may experience with All-On-4 implants.
With any type of surgery, there are always risks involved. With an All-On-4 procedure specifically, the possible complications include infection, poor healing, and profuse bleeding. Obviously, your dentist will do everything in their power to avoid these risks, but sometimes they just happen.
It’s best to keep an eye out for these complications following the surgery and let your dentist know of any abnormal changes.
Dental Implants That Don’t Integrate With Your Bone
Sometimes the dental implants and your bone don’t agree with each other. Factors that affect how well an implant will integrate with your bone is if you smoke, the quality of your bone density, your nutrition, and many other things.
If an implant fails to work with your bone, your dentist can remove the implant, let the area heal, and insert a new implant.
This is a rare occurrence, but still a possibility. Dental implants have an extremely high success rate, but if one or more of them happens to fail, your dentist can replace the implant.
The most common reason for a failed implant can is gum disease, which you can avoid by taking good care of your implants and the surrounding gums and going to regular checkups.
Reviews Of All-On-4 Dental Implants
Generally speaking, patients who get All-On-4s are very satisfied with their new set of teeth. As long as you go to a reliable and trusted dentist, you should have a similar experience.
“I love them so much,” said one All-On-4 patient on RealSelf.com. “They went in a dream. Didn’t take very long and only a tiny little adjustment made to the lower set. Absolutely no pain at all. I can honestly say they feel so normal, exactly like my own teeth felt (without any of the pain).”
Another All-On-4 patients was super happy with their new teeth, despite wishing they still had their natural teeth.
“I have no regrets!” she said. “Would I rather have my original teeth? Of course. But I didn’t take care of them and I feel like I got the best thing available on the market at this point in time. The teeth look natural, the gums look normal…”
Cheapest Way To Do An All-On-4 Dental Implant
One of the cheapest ways to get an All-On-4 dental implant procedure done is through something called “dental tourism.”
Dental tourism (also referred to as “dental vacations”) is where a person who’s considering getting AO4s will travel abroad for both a vacation and to look for a cheaper dental procedure. People can often find more affordable dental care outside of their local or regional healthcare system, and many folks let that determine where they go on vacation.
Dental tourism is possibly the cheapest way to find dental care (although the cost of travel must be factored into the total cost).
Where Can I Find A Dentist Near Me Who Does All-On-4 Dental Implants?
The best way to find a dentist near you who will do an All-On-4 dental implant is to either do a Google search or look in your phone book for local dentists and start making calls. This may take some time, but in the end, it will be worth having a nice new set of teeth that last a long time.
In summary, All-On-4 procedure can be expensive, but a discount plan, dental insurance, or dental tourism can help curb the costs of dental implants, regardless of the type of AO4 implant you get. But despite all of this, AO4 patients, generally, have been very happy.