Tooth loss is more common than many people realize. In fact, by the age of 50, the average American has lost 12 permanent teeth. This is quite a lot, especially when you consider that you only have some 32 permanent teeth to start with. And of course, many people don't stop at 12 and keep losing permanent teeth until they have a condition known as edentulism (or total toothlessness). If you've already lost all your teeth or are heading in that direction, what are your options?
The first option is one that you might already be utilizing. Dentures are a simple, cost-effective option for people affected by edentulism. While dentures are certainly cost-effective, they're less effective in other areas. They can look less natural than other options, and the fact that they're detachable can sometimes make them cumbersome. For total toothlessness, you're better off with a permanent, non-detachable solution.
Dental implants are the favored option for tooth replacement, but is this also true when it comes to replacing multiple teeth? After all, each tooth will need its own implant, with each implant requiring a minor surgical procedure (with the subsequent recovery time). There's also the cost to consider. While it's technically feasible to replace each missing tooth with an individual dental implant, this is not the most appropriate course of action for someone with edentulism. So how can dental implants replace multiple teeth all at once?
Your dentist will be able to offer what is known as an all-on-4 implant. For a patient with no remaining natural teeth, this requires a total of eight dental implants. Four implants will be placed in your upper jaw, and four in your lower jaw. These implants are strategically positioned across your two dental arches, after which you will need adequate recovery time to allow the implants to integrate with your jawbone and surrounding tissues. Only then will they be ready for the next step (which will bring your edentulism to an end).
These four dental implants are capable of holding a fixed, non-detachable dental bridge. These bridges (upper and lower) are simply connected to the implants, offering both the aesthetic and functional benefits of the teeth that have been lost. Since they can only be removed by your dentist, so they will never slip like dentures can. Their immovability means that they're your most natural-looking option for overcoming your edentulism.
Total toothlessness is not something that anyone expects to face in life, but with dental implants, you won't have to face it any longer.