By Jeffrey Jones, DDS
Since 1990, when I first began to surgically place dental implants, I have seen improvement after improvement in the techniques and technology of dental implants.
28 years of evolution in dental implants can be a lot of information, both complex and confusing. So today, let’s focus on a simple question. What is the best implant and restoration treatment for patients with no teeth or those patients who will soon have all teeth extracted?
I believe two methods are at the top. Both methods use uni-body, full-arch zirconia teeth. That is to say that a single block of zirconia is milled to the final shape. There are no seams, welds, or joints. Zirconia is remarkably strong, approaching the hardness of diamonds. In my career, I have never seen a patient with a broken zirconia dental restoration.
These zirconia teeth are nearly the same size and in the same location as the natural teeth. Fortunately, in most ways, the new implanted teeth are just like your natural teeth.
Some patients, who have had excessive shrinkage of the jaws after extractions or due to advanced gum disease, will also need the gums replaced by using gum-colored zirconia. But, for those folks, it is a happy day because they can have both teeth and gums replaced routinely. As far as size and location of the new zirconia gums, remember that the new gums are only as large as were the natural gums.
Zirconia gums can also enhance cosmetics in many cases, but the size is still small. The emphasis is to make a great-looking restoration as close as possible to the exact size of the natural teeth. This maximizes comfort, speech, and uncovers taste buds that are often buried under dentures and partial dentures.
The big technical difference in the top two methods lies in what supports the full-arch zirconia teeth and how surgically traumatic it is.
One method has been the subject of much television advertising. Commonly referred to as Clear Choice or All On 4. This method requires the gums to be cut open in multiple places, then significant bone is removed to create physical space for the future teeth. Four larger implants are placed, gums are stitched closed, and the full-arch zirconia teeth are attached to the four protruding implant connectors.
The second method is to place mini-implants without any incisions or cutting open. Eight to 10 mini-implants are usually placed. There are no sutures required. No bone is removed to create space for the restoration. Pre-made teeth are then attached to the mini-implants. The mini-implant technique has significantly less surgical trauma and potential post-operative pain than the All On 4.
Full-arch zirconia teeth can be permanently cemented or can be built in a way that can be removed, but only by the dentist.
Both methods have many satisfied patients. Prices vary, and fees are not guaranteed and given only as a ballpark figure. Individual situations exist, and it is recommended that you search out fees for yourself. All On 4 has been reported to cost $30,000 and higher per arch, and mini-implants around $18,000 per arch. Be aware that the mouth has two jaws, the upper arch and the lower arch.
As dental science continues to advance, patients have more options than ever before. Be sure to thoroughly investigate and understand any and all options so that you can make the safest and most effective choice for fantastic permanent results.
For more information about mini-implants, headache treatment with a dental device, or to schedule a dental check-up, you may contact Jeffrey Jones, DDS, LLC at 309-454-5830 or visit www.implantandcrown2650.com or www.jeffjonesdentistry.com. Jeffrey Jones DDS, LLC is located at 305 S. Linden Street in Normal. Dr. Jones is a general dentist and provides state-of-the-art dentistry for all ages.