Tired of dentures? What about full mouth dental implants
This articles covers basic information about full mouth dental implants and benefits
Do you have difficulty eating, or have sore gums? These are just a few common problems that denture-wearers experience. Even with a well-fitted set of dentures, chewing ability can be as little as 15% compared to natural teeth.
However, if you have lost your teeth, there is another option that could work for you. Full mouth dental implants, also known as full arch dental implants – or Allon4 or Allon6 – are a full bridge of permanent replacement teeth that are fixed to the jawbone using implants. Made from commercially pure titanium, the implants are a series of screws attached to your jawbone and the dental bridge. Generally, 4 – 6 implants are required to support a complete row of top or bottom teeth.
The incredible thing about full mouth implants is that you can get your new teeth in as little as 24 hours, which is quite a contrast to the traditional implant approach when people have to wait months to get their teeth. Because full mouth implants are placed in lots of 4 to 6 at a time, they can also be splinted together for stability, and therefore they can support a fixed bridge of teeth immediately. However, it’s worth noting that although this bridge is fixed in your mouth, it needs to be rebuilt or replaced with a more permanent bridge in five months after the implants have stabilised and fused with the jawbone.
How do they work
A dental implant is a titanium ‘root’ used to support a porcelain tooth replica or, in the case of full mouth dental implants, a full set of teeth. Titanium is a very biocompatible material, meaning it can bond with human bone, making it ideal for medical applications – this process is called osseointegration. In the case of dental implants, the titanium screws will fuse with the human jawbone in approximately 3 months, in much the same way as a replacement hip or knee.
Four or six implants are used to fix the dental bridge to the jawbone, with the rear two implants placed at a 45-degree angle, providing immediate stability to your new teeth.
Full mouth dental implants are a permanent and fixed solution to replace a full set of missing upper or lower teeth.
What does the process involve?
First of all, there will be a consultation with your dentist to discuss any concerns and requirements, as well as to take your medical history. The time frame, treatment process and expected outcomes will also be discussed at this point. The dentist will assess your suitability for dental implants beginning with a bone scan to assess the volume and density of your jawbone. Photographs and impressions of your mouth will be then taken in order to begin work on preparing your replacement teeth.
The actual surgery itself will take place under general anaesthesia carried out by a qualified anaesthetist. Any remaining teeth will be removed and the titanium implants inserted into your jawbone, with a temporary acrylic bridge fitted the next day. This bridge is already fantastic and comfortable but can be upgraded to a stronger, titanium-reinforced or zirconia bridge in 5 months after the implants have integrated. Recovery is generally quite fast, so long as you follow the instructions provided by your dental surgeon and sutures are usually removed within 2 weeks.
What are the advantages of full mouth implants over dentures?
First and foremost, comfort and confidence
Having a set of replacement teeth with almost the same functionality as natural teeth is life-changing. Say goodbye to sore gums and mashing up your food and hello to being able to bite into a sandwich and eat anything you want. Gone are the worries of your dentures moving around when you talk or eat, you have the confidence to smile again!
They are a permanent solution
Once they are in place, dental implants will last for many years with no need for refits or alterations. Easy to care for, implants replace the tooth root and help to maintain bone density of the jaw, preserving the integrity of facial structure. Full mouth dental implants are particularly suitable for denture wearers or if you are close to losing your teeth.
Risks and considerations: Are dental implants suitable for everyone?
Whilst most people are suitable for dental implants, there are a number of factors that can impact suitability for implants, such as:
- Smoking reduces blood and oxygen supply, impacting the body’s ability to heal. It is advised to cease smoking completely before having dental implant surgery.
- Uncontrolled diabetes can also impede healing and increase the risk of implant failure. Also, diabetes sufferers can be more susceptible to infections or vascular disease. However, by working closely with your medical practitioner to get your diabetes under control, implants may still be an option for you.
- Insufficient bone density can mean bone grafting and sinus lifts may be required to ensure enough bone for implants to be placed.
- Treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy can affect the healing process and it is not recommended to have implant surgery until you have recovered.
- High blood pressure needs to be stabilised with antihypertensive medications and an adrenaline-free local anaesthetic rather than general anaesthetic will need to be used for the implant surgery.
- Medications for osteoporosis, such as bisphosphonates, slow down bone healing and so it requires careful consideration before committing to implants. Interestingly, jawbone less likely to succumb to osteoporosis as weight-bearing bone, so most people with osteoporosis can still undergo implant surgery. However, it is important to consult with your medical practitioner first.
- Periodontal disease (advanced gum disease) is one of the most common reasons people lose their teeth and require full mouth implants. Periodontal disease is treatable but it is also preventable. If your dentist treats this in time, and it is combined with meticulous home care, periodontitis can usually be treated.
Ok, so what are the costs for full mouth dental implants?
By far the most common objection to full mouth implants is the cost. Many people want and need them, but so many feel that they simply can’t afford them.
Melbourne implant dentist Dr Voronina says, “the average price of full arch implants in Australia is between $23,000 – $27,000 per arch.”
“You see, many websites advertise full mouth implants “from $19,000” or even “from $13,000” and I wonder how they do it. Perhaps the word “from” is the key, and when you actually choose all the necessary “add-ons” that most dental implant specialists simply include in their standard price, it’s unlikely to be $19,000. Perhaps, you are simply not getting what you would for $23,000.”
Why are full mouth dental implants so expensive?
Generally speaking, it takes at least 6 months to complete the procedure, with over 50 hours of work involved for the team and about $10,000 to $15,000 in componentry. Furthermore, dental implant surgery is not subsidised by Medicare like cardiac surgery.
Dr Voronina says, “every person who is involved in the designs, construction and installation of your new teeth needs to be an expert. Experts constantly keep abreast of new research and technology. They have done the procedure many times and they know what’s involved and how much it costs to provide the service at a standard that keeps you happy, and also offers you post operative care in the event of a complication. After all their reputation is at stake.”
“I understand why people choose to explore options in third world countries, such as Thailand and Indonesia, in search of cheaper dental implants. Cheap is good. I like cheap too. I like cheap tissues, my nose doesn’t mind. But I don’t want cheap teeth to eat that apple with… You only get two chances in life when it comes to your teeth. The first set is the one that you were born with, these came for free. Your second set (implants) will be your last chance and they will cost you… a lot. And if you neglect these ones, you will most likely not get a third chance, so full dentures will be the only option left.”
Some dental practises offer payment plans that are specifically designed for medical treatments. This is good if you need implants now and you’re prepared to pay them off over 24 months. However, be mindful of hefty interest rates incorporated into some of these plans. Sometimes up to 17%. It is strongly recommended that you explore all costs, ‘inclusions / add-ons’, and payment options. Perhaps a bank can offer a better deal with such low interest rates.
You might also be able to access your superannuation on compassionate grounds. Your GP or your dentist can help you through this process. You can read up on this on the ATO website here.
Still interested in exploring next steps for full mouth implants?
The next step would be to find an experienced surgeon who has performed many of these procedures, and who can guide you through the process. You will need to make an appointment for an initial consultation and a scan to discuss your options.
Guest author – This article was written by Dr Helen Voronina, an implant dentist and owner of Melbourne-based practice, Dr Helen’s Dental & Implant Studio.
To learn more about full mouth dental implants visit Dr Helen’s website on full mouth dental implants.
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