Tooth loss, which is often the result of tooth decay, a failed root canal, gum disease, periodontal disease, or an accident, is a growing concern among aging adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 26% of individuals age 65 or older have eight teeth or fewer. Early intervention is important to save the natural teeth.
Preventive care, including bi-annual cleanings, X-rays, scaling, and treatment for gingivitis and periodontal disease, is essential. But when tooth loss occurs despite healthy dental hygiene habits and professional intervention, there are replacement options like All-on-4® and dentures.
Patients who desire permanent replacement find All-on-4 to be a promising alternative to dentures and a more affordable and quick solution compared to individual dental implants. There are multiple benefits to having missing teeth replaced with either All-on-4 or dentures. Still, both of these popular dental solutions use vastly different processes to restore a healthy smile and full dental function.
What are Dentures?
When a patient smiles, speaks, or laughs, missing teeth may be seen. These gaps cause difficulty chewing and often trigger social anxiety or embarrassment. Dentures are custom-made plastic or porcelain teeth with a plastic base replicating gum tissue that forms a seal with the gums or is held in position with dental implants surgically placed in the jaw.
Traditional dentures are held in place with adhesive and offer cosmetic and functional improvements for patients with multiple missing teeth. Traditional dentures (partial and complete) have been used for decades to restore missing teeth. Removable partial dentures are an option when several teeth are missing, and complete dentures offer an affordable way to repair the entire arch of teeth on the top and bottom.
Removable Partial Dentures
Removable partial dentures are designed for each patient based on their unique needs. Partial dentures may include a metal structure with clasps attached to adjacent teeth or devices called precision attachments, which have more cosmetically appealing fasteners. Crowns are usually needed on the adjacent natural teeth to accommodate a partial denture.
Typically, partial dentures feel bulky, but most patients become comfortable inserting and removing partial dentures with practice. The dentist provides patients with specific instructions on wearing and removing partials. Patients are asked to consistently wear the partial denture in the beginning to identify areas that need to be adjusted.
Removable Full Dentures
A complete set of dentures requires the removal of any remaining teeth and time to allow the gum tissue to heal before the dentist sets the prepared dentures in place. Immediate dentures are made in advance and placed in the mouth after the removal of the teeth. The entire process typically takes 8 to 12 weeks after the extractions.
Immediate dentures are usually temporary until the healing is complete and the conventional dentures are created. Because bone and gum tissue shrink over time, especially after tooth removal, temporary dentures would require multiple adjustments to fit after the healing process.
Implant-Supported Removable Dentures
Dental implants may be used to secure a removable denture in the jaw with attachments called locators. Implant-supported dentures provide patients with increased biting power so they can enjoy a wider variety of foods. While implant-supported dentures offer improved support compared to traditional dentures, new technology like All-on-4 offers permanent dental restoration.
Patients must remove their dentures daily and clean them thoroughly with a moist brush and denture cleaner. Dentures must be kept in a cleaning solution or water each evening to protect their shape.
Bone and gum ridges typically shrink with age and tooth loss, which results in a poorly-fitting denture. Adjustments are needed over time as mouth changes affect the fit of the denture. Patients should not attempt home adjustments, as do-it-yourself kits can damage the appliances.
Downsides of Dentures
Removable dentures are a popular choice but there are some negative aspects that should be considered.
- Dentures must properly fit to ensure stability, especially on the lower jaw, but a proper fit may be challenging to achieve and maintain. Dentures often need to be adjusted.
- Proper adhesion is also essential and challenging to achieve on the lower jaw because it frequently moves while eating and speaking. Patients may find the adhesive cream or strips to be messy and uncomfortable.
- Dentures must be cleaned and cared for properly to avoid infection and friction sores.
- Removable dentures do not protect bone density, which naturally decreases when the teeth are removed.
- Reduced bone density causes changes in facial structures and advanced signs of aging.
What is All-on-4®?
While many people instantly think of a complete set of dentures when they begin losing their teeth or experience severe problems with gum disease, this may not be the best option. New technology offers All-on-4 implants as an alternative to traditional dentures. All-on-4 is an advanced dental procedure that uses one to four dental implants screwed into the top and bottom jaw to secure a partial or complete dental appliance.
The implants are made of titanium and look like screws before the natural-looking artificial teeth are permanently attached to the secure base. All-on-4 implants are strategically spread throughout the arch to support the replacement teeth. The appliance has holes that line up with the implant posts, which are then screwed into place.
All-on-4 patients experience a beautiful new smile and enjoy the full function of their teeth much faster than patients getting full implants or traditional dentures. The state-of-the-art procedure is typically performed in just one day. All-on-4 dentures provide a fantastic solution for patients seeking permanent tooth replacement, as they do not require adhesive or daily removal for cleaning.
All-on-4 Compared to Dentures
All-on-4 implants are a permanent solution to missing teeth and are superior to traditional dentures for several reasons:
- Permanent, natural-looking teeth that provide lip support to minimize wrinkles and changes in the cosmetic structure of the chin.
- Preserve bone and help to maintain facial structure.
- Implant-supported permanent appliances eliminate the need for messy adhesives.
- Reduces pain and mouth irritation caused by removable dentures.
- Implants substantially restore chewing power.
- Restores stability compared to ill-fitting dentures.
- Does not cover the roof of the mouth, unlike dentures, so patients can properly taste their food and sense the difference between hot and cold.
- Allows patients to enjoy a greater variety of foods.
- Looks and feels natural, which restores confidence.
- Eliminates the need to remove and clean dentures daily.
All-on-4 candidates are those who have lost several teeth on the top arch, bottom arch, or both. Potential candidates are those seeking a permanent solution and may be experiencing a loss in bone density. All-on-4 is also a good option for candidates who require bone grafting because fewer implants are needed when compared to full implants.
Patients with a shallow palate or reduced bone ridges may benefit from All-on-4 because the appliance is less bulky than traditional dentures and does not cover the roof of the mouth. Patients who have worn dentures for several years and struggle with unstable devices and poor alignment often request All-on-4. The dentist must examine potential candidates to determine their candidacy, but All-on-4 is an excellent option for most dental patients who require replacement.
Five Reasons All-on-4 Technology Tops Dentures and Individual Implants
- Regular dental implants require one implant per tooth, but All-on-4 uses advanced technology to restore a beautiful smile and dental function with just four dental implants per arch.
- Traditional implants and dentures require patients to wait several months for their restored smile, while the All-on-4 procedure only takes one day.
- When compared to a complete set of individual implants or a full set of dentures, the procedure saves patients valuable time and reduces stress and anxiety.
- Implants require a strong jaw bone, and advanced bone grafts may be needed before a traditional implant procedure when the jawbone is thin. When grafting is necessary, it can prolong the implant process because the adequate bone is required to anchor implants and support the dental appliance. However, All-on-4 is a great option compared to traditional implants that require advanced bone grafting for each tooth.
- The entire All-on-4 process is fast and convenient, particularly when compared to traditional implants or dentures.
How is All-on-4® Different from Dentures?
There are many differences. First, dentures are removed for cleaning each night, while permanent All-on-4 appliances look like natural teeth and are cleaned and brushed without requiring removal. All-on-4 do not require adhesives, and patients can bite down with 70% more force than dentures.
Patients can enjoy more food options with All-on-4. Plus, the roof of the mouth is left open, unlike dentures, which cover the top of the mouth.
Learn More About All-on-4®
If you’re considering permanent tooth replacement options, call 713-960-9623 or visit Uptown Dentistry for an All-on-4 consultation. We specialize in natural-looking, functional tooth restoration at Uptown Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry in Houston, TX, and we look forward to serving you with outstanding, compassionate care.