All on 4 – everything you need to know…
… But Were Too Afraid to Ask
By Glenn Willey
If you are reading this you or somebody you know has heard about the All On 4 procedure as an option to wearing dentures. Unfortunately we are seeing more and more patients that are coming to see us because they have been dissatisfied with treatment that has been carried out elsewhere. Forearmed is forewarned – here’s everything you need to know about All-on-4.
What is All-on-4? A protocol for replacing teeth on those whose teeth are lost or irreparably damaged, but who are unhappy with wearing dentures. It uses dental implants to anchor artificial teeth that are fixed, and was first presented by Dr Paulo Malo in Portugal in conjunction with implant manufacturer Nobel Biocare.
What makes it different? Professor Per Igmar Branemark first began implanting artificial teeth in the 1970s and this treatment became available in Australia in the late 1980’s. From then until about 10 years ago this was complicated, expensive treatment that was only suitable for a small number of patients. Often treatment would take up to a year during which time it was almost impossible to function normally. All on 4 uses specially positioned implants that we designed so that treatment can be completed within three days. Instead of eating mush for months on end patients can be chewing all but very hard food within a few days. As the name suggests a full set of upper or lower teeth can be anchored on four implants in most cases. A welcome benefit is that this helps keeps the costs down as compared with previous protocols.
How is All-on-4 performed? The dentist first carries out a designing process that involves taking impressions, special X-rays and photographs. The teeth are then designed and can be temporarily tried in to make sure the patient will be happy with how the new teeth will look. Once the patient and dentist is happy with design an appointment is made to remove any hopeless teeth and then place four small titanium screws carefully in the jaw where the teeth used to be. At the same appointment further impressions and measurements are taken. Over the following 24 hours a dental technician makes the new teeth and the dentist places them on the following day.
Does it hurt? Many patients who are reasonably comfortable with dental treatments will be fine having All on 4 done – it is performed using a similar local anaesthetic to, say, fillings or extractions. When carried out properly there is almost no discomfort during the procedure. For a few days after the procedure there can be some swelling and bruising but only mild discomfort for most people. This can be easily controlled using simple painkillers such as Panadol or Nurofen.
Do I need after care? Careful after care is essential. You need to visit the dentist three times in the first six weeks and then every four-to-six months indefinitely. This after-care is critical to the success of the treatment.
How long will my new teeth last? The implants that anchor your new teeth should last indefinitely if properly cared for. The life span of the actual teeth is variable as some people are much harder on their teeth than others. This is also true of natural teeth and explains why some people can keep their teeth for a lifetime and others not.
How much does it cost? There is no standard fee and prices vary widely. There is also a big variation in what the fee covers so it is quite hard to compare between practices. In Sydney you can expect to pay between $20,000.00 and $30,000.00 for a standard All on 4 for an upper or lower jaw. This should cover all of the treatment with the exception of ongoing cleaning appointments. You may be offered a discount if you do upper and lower jaw.
While all of this may be a little overwhelming, All on 4 is an amazing treatment that can change people lives. For a thorough assessment, and more information, come in and see us today.