Over the last decade, All-on-4 (AO4) dentures have gone from largely unknown to being one of the most commonly requested solutions for complete tooth loss. AO4 dentures are full-arch dentures that are attached securely to your jaw with dental implants. Unlike traditional removable dentures, AO4 dentures are permanently affixed to your jaw using four or six of those implants.
Just because AO4 dentures are increasingly well known and common does not mean that they’re appropriate for you. Whether AO4 dentures are appropriate for any particular patient depends on a complete assessment of their goals expectations, medical and dental history, and the health and condition of their gums and jaw. Even if getting all-on-4 dental implants in Gilbert is medically appropriate for you, there are several factors that may affect your experience of AO4 dentures.
All-on-4 dental implants can affect how you speak
The dentures that will be placed in your mouth and affixed to implanted posts must include some structure and bulk to support the artificial teeth that make up those dentures. That structure and bulk that makes up the dentures are added to your mouth in addition to the existing natural soft tissues already there. All of that means that the shape and size of the interior of your mouth will change when dentures are inserted. That additional bulk can affect your ability to pronounce sounds that require your tongue to contact surfaces in your mouth. Examples of those sounds are the letters S, N, T, and D. While those speech changes may improve with time, patience, and practice, the changes may be initially stressful and distracting.
The inside of your mouth will feel different than you’re used to
You’ve grown accustomed to the shape of the inside of your mouth, and the way it feels when you eat, drink, breathe, and move your tongue inside your mouth. All those sensations will feel different once you receive AO4 dentures from a dentist in Gilbert. While those changes in sensation are not usually problematic on an ongoing basis, they can be initially startling and discomfiting. In anticipation of potential changes to the way your mouth feels, you should take the time to thoroughly discuss the implications of being fit with AO4 dentures and how you will adjust to them over time.
You may find yourself biting too hard
When you bite with natural teeth, periodontal mechanoreceptors in the periodontal ligament provide you with feedback. That feedback helps you to perceive just how firmly you’re biting in any particular location in your mouth. Because dentures don’t have a periodontal ligament, they don’t provide that feedback. When you chew and bite with dentures, it will feel like you’re biting with numbed teeth. As a result, you may find that you bite and chew too hard to try and reproduce the sensation of natural biting, and without even realizing you’re doing so. Taking the time you need to adjust to your AO4 dentures is very important for the safety of the soft tissues in your mouth and the biting surfaces of your teeth.
If you clench your jaw or grind your teeth as you sleep, tell your dentist
For the same “numbing”-related reasons discussed above, you may be unaware while wearing AO4 dentures that you are clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth if you suffer from sleep bruxism. Because the grinding and clenching can damage your artificial teeth and unduly strain your implants and jaw bone, some adjustment to your AO4 dentures is required — and possible if your dentist in Gilbert is aware of your bruxism. Your dentist can, for example, modify your AO4 dentures with bar overdentures and flat-planed night guards.
Determining whether all-on-4 dental implants are appropriate for you requires a frank discussion of your medical and dental condition, your expectations, and the adjustments you may require. While these factors may not — alone — preclude you from getting all-on-4 dental implants near you, they are things you should discuss with a dentist near you in advance rather than being surprised after the fact.