All On 4 Treatment
In times past when teeth are missing, removable teeth, dentures are inserted to replace the missing teeth. Dentures are made of acrylic and resin or porcelain teeth. These dentures are removable and are kept in the mouth through mechanical retention on the existing teeth or by adhesion or “suction” to the remaining gum tissue that is supported by the remaining bone. There are many challenges that come by wearing dentures. The dentures become ill-fitting with time because the bone and gum that remain after a tooth or teeth are extracted shrink away, changing the fit of the full denture or partial denture. This creates the need for new dentures until there is insufficient bone and gum support to keep the dentures in place. Also, there is the challenge that because there are no teeth and the bone shrinks away, there is a cosmetic change that collapses the face and prematurely ages the face and the appearance. Additionally, the changes of the gums and bone that makes the dentures loose decreases the function of the dentures so it becomes more difficult to eat and speak.
Restoring Missing Teeth with Permanent Teeth
In the 1970’s the discovery that the metal Titanium had the unique function to fuse or “integrate” to bone when place in a fixed position surrounding existing and left to heal could provide a fixed “post” or what is now referred to as dental implants. Upon removal of a tooth, the bone will regenerate to a certain degree in the empty space. Placement of a dental implant can replace the stability of the missing root of the missing tooth and then a tooth crown or cap can be placed on a post inserted into the implant that is surgically placed where the root was initially.
In the past 20-30 years, great technological advances have been made in this revolutionary treatment for missing teeth. Implants, either individually to replace one tooth or multiple implants to replace many teeth, can be placed into existing boney areas that are then replaced with single unit crowns on abutments placed into the implants and restored with cosmetic porcelain crowns that look exactly like the existing surrounding teeth.
For individuals that have been wearing full dentures, missing all their teeth on one arch, either for the upper or lower or both, there exists a well-proven technique of replacing the missing teeth by placing a bridge of several teeth attached together on top of four or more implants. Because the teeth are all attached together, the bridge can be placed immediately, the same day in some cases, on top of the dental implants that have been inserted into the jaw bone. This technique is sometimes called the “All on 4” technique or “Teeth in a Day” that has been advertised widely in the United States and other countries. The implementation of this technique must be performed by experienced dentists/oral surgeons who have experience with not only the proper angular placement of the implants but the cosmetic restoration and alignment of the teeth to properly match the patient’s facial features. This allows the patient to be completely restored with “permanent teeth” that are fixed and need not be removed. This amazing procedure solves the problems of the functional and cosmetic weaknesses of dentures and provides a complete restoration, like getting one’s original teeth back again. Dental laboratories that specialize in this type of restoration must be used to make the teeth look natural and align the teeth in the proper bite position for the teeth to be fully functional for eating.
No longer are there concerns of teeth moving during speaking or eating or embarrassment caused by wearing “false” teeth. Regular 6-month cleaning of the teeth attached to the implants is necessary for proper oral hygiene. The costs of such procedures have been escalated greatly because initially there were few dentists trained to perform the procedure. Franchise type chain dental offices owned by businessmen, not dentists, have dominated the market until recently. The cost of expensive television and radio advertising has been passed on to the consumer taking advantage of the uninformed public. However, with time the education of more dentists and oral surgeons and the public awareness of the exorbitant marketing of such procedures has allowed the cost to be much more reasonable and available to many more individuals who otherwise could not afford such procedures. Additionally, reasonable financing for monthly payments has also allowed the dream of “permanent teeth” a reality again for so many.
Now virtually everyone can live their lives without embarrassment of missing teeth, with a new smile that is comfortable, functional and especially affordable.