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I went to a dentist to talk about dental implants and he said all-on-4 dental implants are really my only option. I’ve read that not all dentists like this option. Would I be better off with dentures in that case?
While all-on-4 dental implants are controversial, they would still be better than dentures. However, I don’t believe for a second they are your only option. Let’s start with why you don’t want completely removable dentures and then we’ll go into your options. When your teeth are removed, your body recognizes that. Our bodies are amazingly efficient machines. In an effort to preserve your body’s resources in the best way possible. As a result, it will begin to resorb the minerals in your jawbone that are no longer needed to retain your teeth and use them elsewhere in your body. This, however, has the unfortunate side effect of slowly shrinking your jawbone. Eventually, in about ten or more years, you will no longer have enough jawbone left to even retain your dentures, making it nearly impossible for you to eat anything that isn’t mashed. In dental circles, this is known as facial collapse.
Having dental implants placed signals to your body that you still have teeth and therefore your body leaves those minerals intact. This preserves your jawbone. Because of that, having dental implants of any kind are better than removable dentures.
All-on-4 dental implants can be useful for people who do not have enough bone structure to retain dental implants. This procedure angles the implants in such a ways that it does not need as much bone structure as a traditional dental implant case would. The controversy comes because if one part of the structure fails, the entire unit has to be replaced.
My guess is you have already lost some bone structure, so your dentist is telling you to get the all-on-4 which can handle some lost bone. As I mentioned above, though, it is not your only option. If bone loss is really an issue, you could have bone grafting done to build that structure back up. After that, you will be okay to bet traditional dental implants and have a denture anchored to them. This is called implant overdentures and is the better option in most cases.
My suggestion is you get a second opinion. I never like it when someone only gives one option. It makes me suspicious. Make certain that whatever dentist you do see for the second opinion, and even to do the dental implants themselves, has the expertise and post-doctoral training. The best implant dentists are fellows with the International Congress of Oral Implantologists.
This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentist Dr. John Theriot.