Tooth loss is more common among adults than you might think; more than 35 million people in the United States are missing some or all of their teeth. Therefore, if, as an older American you are dealing with tooth loss, don’t feel alone or out of options.
“But wait,” you might be thinking. “I don’t want to be stuck with the hassle of dentures for the rest of my life!”It’s true that many people report that life with dentures is full of strain and discomfort, especially when dentures rely on the support of something as unstable, tender and movable as your gum tissue. Luckily for you, dentures are by no means your only option.
So, what if we told you that you can replace a whole arch of teeth with only four dental implants? And what if we told you that you could have a whole new smile in a mere day? No, it’s not too good to be true — all of this and more is possible with all-on-4 dental implants!
Before we discuss all-on-4, you should probably understand the concept of dental implants. A dental implant is a small titanium screw that replaces the root of a missing tooth. A minor surgery is required to insert this screw into the jawbone and then a crown is attached. Then, bam! You suddenly have a realistic and highly functional prosthetic tooth. That’s the gist of how a dental implant works, but what’s different about all-on-4?
Turns out, when you’re replacing a whole arch of teeth, you don’t need an implant for each and every tooth. Instead, all-on-4 dental implants use state-of-the-art dental technology to precisely place four dental implants on the top or bottom jawbone to attach a whole arch of crowns. That means you only need four dental implants on top and four on bottom to restore a full smile!
And that’s not the only benefit to all-on-4. Titanium is a material that has the unique ability to fuse to living bone. Because the all-on-4 implants are made of titanium, they can fuse to your jawbone and eventually become a part of it. This is really great for a few reasons. First, since the implant is firmly rooted in your jawbone, it won’t cause the same hassle and discomfort as conventional dentures. Second, all-on-4 becomes a part of your jawbone over time and serves as a strong and long-lasting foundation for your new teeth. Lastly, this can even help to strengthen the jawbone itself and prevent future bone loss. Therefore, all-on-4 is great for supporting and maintaining facial structure and excellent dental health.
“Sure,” you might be thinking. “All-on-4 sounds wonderful, but at what cost? I don’t want to go through some big surgery.”
For those who are wary of undergoing big surgical procedures, all-on-4 is actually the best choice. The procedure for implanting all-on-4 is very minor, usually taking only one visit to your oral surgeon, and recovery time is even quicker than for conventional dentures. That’s why all-on-4 is great for anybody who has little time, money or energy for multiple dental implants over the span of several months. After just one procedure, all-on-4 will have you walking out with a brand new smile. So, how does a typical all-on-4 procedure go?
First, you’ll be administered local or general anesthesia to ensure your comfort during the procedure. Check out our website’s page on what to expect before anesthesia. Next, your surgeon will prepare your mouth for the implants. This involves removing any remaining teeth and any diseased or infected tissue from your jaw and gums. Then, your surgeon will begin the implantation process — they’ll insert the screws into your jawbone. After the implants have been placed, the surgical site will be thoroughly cleaned. Lastly, you’ll be taken to a recovery room to relax and wake up from anesthesia.
See? Not so bad. The whole procedure only takes about two and a half hours — and you’ll be put through nothing more than a relaxing nap.
For traditional dentures, recovery time is about three to eight months. However, because all-on-4 implants fuse to your bone, they promote stability from day one and will have you recovering more quickly. Let’s break down the recovery process.
On the first day, your main concern will be relaxing and steering clear of the surgical site. When you go home from the surgery — driven by a trusted caretaker — head straight to your couch or bed, put on a feel-good movie or TV show, and don’t do anything besides watching the screen or sleeping. Make sure not to do anything to disturb your surgical site; no rinsing, touching or smoking. The only thing that should go near the surgical site is a soft-bristled toothbrush, which can be used to gently brush your teeth. Though it’s important to be extra gentle, you should keep your mouth as clean as possible.
After 24 hours, if your bleeding has been minimal, it’s safe to start gently rinsing your mouth with salt water 2-3 times per day. Mix one tablespoon of salt with eight ounces of warm water and rinse gently, allowing water to drip from your mouth into the sink. At this point, you should also only be eating soft foods.
For the following two to three days, you should keep up your couch-potato routine — keep your activities limited to sleeping, lounging and relaxing. All exercise should be limited to channel surfing. That means no bending over, lifting heavy objects or any other strenuous activities you can think of, as these could cause more bleeding and swelling.
Think of it this way: all-on-4 recovery is just an excuse for a well-needed vacation. You don’t have to feel bad about lying around all day and being completely unproductive — in fact, it’s highly encouraged.
While, as we’ve just shown, there are ample benefits to getting all-on-4, whether or not it’s a good decision relies on your own unique circumstances. To find out if all-on-4 is a good option for you, we highly recommend consulting your dentist or periodontist. If you’re having trouble deciding who to turn to for this big decision, look no further. At San Antonio Periodontics and Implants, we are happy to assist you in deciding if all-on-4 is right for you, and if it is, our expert team will even complete your procedure. You can always rest assured that you’re safe in our team’s capable hands, so contact us today to set up an appointment and decide whether or not to pursue all-on-4!
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