The Right Fit

All-On-Four Dental Implants – When Are They Right For You?

We’re a pretty health-conscious bunch here on the west coast of Canada. In Kelowna, BC, where I live and practice at Legato Dental Centre, being active and eating well is par for the course. This isn’t limited to the young either. Every day I see a number of people who are well into their later years out and about, reaping the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. And yet, every day I treat many of these same people for denture related problems.

At my office in Kelowna, patients come to me at all stages of edentulism (toothlessness). Often times it’s after they’ve already had another procedure, or when they’ve found themselves experiencing dental problems in tandem with other conditions like TMJ or severe neck pain. Sometimes I see patients in the early stages of edentulism, while other patients have lost every natural tooth they once had. Regardless of where they may fall on this spectrum, all share one thing—they have come to me looking for answers.

At one time the only option we had for patients with complete edentulism was traditional dentures, but fortunately this is no longer the case. In my field of prosthodontics, I have seen enormous advances over the last few years. For patients with full upper, lower or entire tooth loss, one of the best strategies now on the market is an implant denture called All-On-4. I’ve been using it in my practice with extremely positive results and would be hard pressed to find a better alternative out there for full-tooth replacement. An implant denture, All-On-4 is supported by permanent implants in the upper and lower jawbone to which we attach a bridge and the denture (all one piece) itself. You will never need to remove them and they’re designed to look and function as naturally as your own teeth. Of course, one of the biggest advantages to All-On-4 is that we’re able to perform the entire procedure in just a day.

Many patients have asked my professional opinion of All-On-4 and I will tell you exactly what I’ve told them. For those who either don’t have teeth, or have teeth which will need to be replaced down the line (either due to diseased, broken down, or severely damaged teeth) All-On-4 is without a doubt the best option. For the latter group, All-On-4 is effective because rather than suffer through losing all your teeth, diseased or damaged teeth can be removed and then replaced almost immediately with the implant denture.

Determining if All-On-4 is right for a patient requires us to look at a number of factors. Anatomical qualifications must be considered—which is basically a fancy way of saying that we need to see if you have enough bone in the right places to support the implant. And for myself, it’s important to take a person’s ultimate objective into account. While many build their dental practice around smiles, comfort and function as well as esthetics are my ultimate objective. Just as an architect would construct a building, we plan, design, and model your teeth specifically to suit your needs.

Another big advantage to All-On-4 is that they represent the most comfortable option. They don’t move around inside the mouth, which limits the amount of pain a person feels. This is a huge bone of contention (no pun intended) for many of my patients who have had or still have traditional dentures. This “floating” of the denture around the mouth can cause numerous sore spots or ulcers, making eating regular foods difficult. With All-On-4, these issues are completely resolved.

It’s true that financially All-On-4 is more costly than regular dentures, but as an investment in time and comfort, there is nothing else that will give you a bigger return. I have literally seen the lives of patients’ change for the better following this procedure. People who were experiencing severe neck or jaw pain from ill fitting dentures saw either a vast improvement or a complete reversal of the problem, and the confidence that comes from a set of beautiful and natural looking teeth can’t be overlooked either. For the same reason we drink those kale smoothies and go for our morning walk, a beautiful smile is an investment in feeling good and looking good.

A number of dental clinics are now offering All-On-4 so you wouldn’t be wrong to question what the difference is between them. Like any major dental procedure, having a consultation with a professional and getting an opinion (or two) is best. When you’re searching, keep in mind that there’s a big difference in qualifications and experience. At my practice, we have both myself (a prosthodontist), and a periodontal specialist; our confidence level is high because we’ve been intimate with denture procedures on a daily basis over a period of many years. This is what we do all day long, every day. Before you decide if All-On-4 is the best fit for you, it’s important to explore multiple different options and get a specialist’s opinion; this way you will be confident in going forward.