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Dental Implants vs. All-on-4 Implants: How do They Compare to One Another?

Dr. Fred | June 30, 2022

Missing teeth are a common problem in the USA. However, there are tooth replacement options available. In fact, two of the most common ones are dental implants or All-on-4 dental implants.

Dental implants are a permanent solution to replace one or more missing teeth. This restores natural appearance and functionality for those who are missing teeth.

If you’re missing a full arch of teeth, All-on-4 dental implants are an option. This is a tooth restoration option in which dentures are anchored to 4 strategically placed traditional dental implants.

In this article, we’ll explain traditional dental implants and all-on-4 implants, the advantages and disadvantages of each one, and how the procedures work.

Traditional Dental Implants

Traditional dental implants are used to replace missing teeth. While most people use the term “implant” to refer to the titanium rod and the prosthetic tooth, it is actually just the rod that is implanted into the jawbone to replace tooth roots. The implant provides a strong foundation for permanent or replacement teeth designed to match your natural teeth.

Advantages

There are several advantages to dental implants, such as:

  • Improved appearance
  • Improved speech
  • Easier to eat
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Improved oral health
  • Comfortable
  • Convenient
  • Durable

Disadvantages

It’s also important to note that there are some disadvantages to dental implants as well:

  • Not for everyone
  • Requires multiple appointments
  • Costs more than other options
  • Requires surgery
  • Risk of complications
  • Takes a long time to heal

Procedure

The first step in the process of getting dental implants is your consultation and development of your treatment plan. You are encouraged to ask questions and bring up any concerns you have at this time. Your treatment plan is prepared by the dental team and will address your personal needs. This team approach offers coordinated care based on the option that is best for you.

Next, the tooth implant will be placed. The dentist will cut a hole in your gum and drill a hole in your jawbone to place it. This will become the root of your prosthetic tooth. As your jawbone heals, it grows around the implant in a process known as osseointegration. This anchors the implant in place and can take 6 to 12 weeks to heal.

Once healed, you will return to the dentist; now, a small connector post, known as an abutment, will be attached. This will be what secures your new tooth to the implant. In order to make the new tooth, your dentist will make impressions of your teeth to create a model of your bite. The replacement tooth/teeth will be made based on this model. A replacement tooth, known as a crown, is attached to the new abutment.

Your dentist will make sure that the color of the replacement tooth is the same as your natural teeth. Since it is secured in your jawbone, your replacement tooth/teeth will look, function, and feel like your natural teeth.

Cost

On average, a single tooth implant costs $1,500 to $6,000, depending on the materials used, the type of implant, and where you are located. Additionally, the cost is influenced by whether it is a front tooth or back tooth that needs to be replaced. A front tooth typically costs more. When multiple implants are required, the cost per implant will decrease slightly because some costs, such as x-rays and scans, are only charged once.

Mini implants are usually 60% to 70% cheaper, since the materials are less expensive and the procedure is more straightforward.

All-on-4 Implants

All-on-4 is a tooth replacement option for replacing a full arch that uses fewer implants than other options. This option is characterized by the following:

As few as 4 implants per jaw Rear implants are angled for maximum strength Can be implanted and fitted in 1 visit

Advantages

There are several advantages to this tooth replacement option:

  • Short treatment/recovery time
  • Extractions and implants placed in one day
  • Comfortable/stable structure to support bridges, crowns, or dentures
  • Do not need to remove for cleaning
  • Won’t slip or fall out
  • Works for patients with bone loss
  • Less expensive than other techniques requiring more implants

Disadvantages

There are also some disadvantages to this tooth replacement option as well:

  • Results may not be as good as traditional dental implants
  • Some patients experience spitting/hissing when speaking
  • Not fully customizable
  • One implant failing can cause issues with the whole jaw
  • Bridge/dentures may feel bulky in your mouth

Procedure

The procedure for All-on-4 dental implants is similar to that of traditional dental implant placement- at least in the preliminary stages. The surgery itself is where things start looking different.

The first step is your consultation. This will be a lot like a regular dental exam. You will be able to ask any questions that you have and bring up any concerns. The dentist will likely do some x-rays to ensure the best placement of your implants. A treatment plan will be designed based on your personal needs and, if necessary, tooth extractions will be scheduled.

The next step is to prepare your mouth for the procedure, which will be different for each patient, depending on your needs. Often, extractions and periodontal treatment are required. This is because if you have an active case of periodontitis, you could potentially end up with infected dental implants, which could ultimately lead to failure. If periodontal treatment is required, the dentist will perform scaling and root planing. This can be skipped if the contaminated teeth are removed.

An impression may be taken to make sure that your denture is ready as soon as the rods are implanted.

When it comes time to place the All-on-4, you will be given local anesthesia. Two implants will be placed at the front and two in the back at a 45° angle, which will provide the stability required to hold a fixed arch. This prevents additional procedures, such as bone grafting, from being required.

Depending on the condition of your teeth, your denture may be fitted the same day. If not, you will be sent home with the implants and possibly a temporary denture. In this case, the final prosthesis will be mounted after the healing process is complete, usually 3 to 6 months later.

Cost

On average, All-on-4 dental implants cost $12,000 to $25,000 per arch, depending on how many implants are required and the material chosen for your denture.

Conclusion

As you can see, both traditional dental implants and All-on-4 dental implants are viable options for tooth replacement. Traditional dental implants can be used for a single tooth or for multiple teeth. All-on-4 is the best option, especially when it comes to budget, to replace a full arch.
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