Implants are one of the revolutionizing dental treatments that help to provide a fixed natural-looking smile. In the early days, when implants were newly introduced, they were limited to single tooth replacement in the jaw.
However, with the increasing success of implant and bone integration, they can now be used to replace all the missing teeth in the upper or lower jaw. Typically, this procedure is done in alignment with a dental bridge or overdenture fabrication.
Some of the key benefits of full arch dental implants include longevity for a lifetime, prevention of alveolar bone loss, improved oral functions like eating and chewing. Moreover, it provides the best natural-looking smile.
Today’s article will highlight the benefits and procedures for full arch dental implants. Furthermore, we will discuss the factors affecting implant placement.
What are full arch dental implants?
Full arch dental implants are one the most popular and widely used dental treatments which provide permanent replacement of missing teeth in the entire dental arch, either upper or lower. Usually, in this procedure, around four to six dental implants are placed strategically to support a whole arch of teeth.
These implant techniques are an ideal solution for patients with missing teeth or failing restorative treatments. Full arch dental implants usually do not require conventional bone grafting. Moreover, the full arch dental implants permanently replace up to twelve teeth in either jaw. (1)
Once the implants are successfully placed in the arch, the esthetics are restored by placing a dental bridge or overdenture to provide a natural-looking smile.
What are the types of full arch dental implants?
Full arch dental implants can be used for both the upper and lower arches –
Upper Full Arch Dental Implant
Upper Full Arch dental implants are usually placed after the complete removal of upper teeth followed by healing of the jaw for at least eleven weeks. Typically, during this time, the patient may be given a set of temporary dentures to eat and speak normally.
A computer-generated surgical guide is prepared, once the jaw has completely healed. This helps to plan the best locations for the implant placement in a precise manner. After this period, four to six dental implants are carefully placed in the upper jaw surgically. (2)
Lower Full Arch Dental Implant
Unlike the upper full arch dental implant procedure, the lower implants require only one surgical phase. The lower full arch dental implants are usually placed on the same day of tooth extraction. A temporary bridge or provisional overdenture may be provided this time to allow proper functioning of the mouth, especially while chewing and speaking.
Who can get full arch dental implants?
Full arch dental implants are ideal for people who have lost most or all of their teeth in the upper or lower jaw. Entirely edentulous people can also choose this unique treatment. Other situations suitable for a full arch dental implant placement may include –
- People with widespread dental damage
- People who require full mouth extraction (3)
- People with a complete removable denture and are looking for a better and fixed alternative.
Usually, the suitability of a patient to receive full arch dental implants depends on the oral health and jaw bone condition in the mouth.
The dentist carefully examines the oral cavity and looks for jawbone degeneration, which may affect the stability of the implants. In some situations, the dentist may also advise for additional bone grafting. This is done to build a more stable foundation for implant placement and restoration.
What are the benefits of full arch dental implants?
Some of the benefits of full arch dental implants include –
- Looks and feels like natural teeth
- Bring instant boost in confidence
- Makes chewing easier
- Improved speech
- Long-lasting dental treatment
- Minimal maintenance by brushing and flossing regularly
- Help to preserve the jawbone
What factors contribute to the placement of full arch dental implants?
There are typical, four factors that may determine the suitability of full larch dental implants. They are mentioned as follows –
Speech is usually one of the major concerns for any patient. The minor flaw can bring a significant change in the speech of an individual. Often, full arch Implant-supported restorations require both vertical and horizontal bulk for strength. In doing so, the dentist may have to place a bulkier bridge and crowns compared to the jaw bone’s width. (4)
Often such consequences significantly impact particular speech sounds such as “D,” “T,” and “N,” as the tongue contacts the hard palate to form the sound. Similarly, horizontal bulk in the posterior area can affect the “S” sound, where the lateral borders of the tongue flare upon making the sound resulting in slurring.
In such situations, the dentist may look for alternative tooth replacement options that may be aligned with the speech of the patient.
You feel the tactile sensation in natural teeth because of the proprioceptors present in the periodontal ligament, which attaches the tooth to the surrounding bone. This helps the teeth to regulate the occlusal force while eating or chewing. However, in dental implants, there is no periodontal attachment. Moreover, it takes around ten times more force to register the same proprioception for a dental implant as compared to that of a natural tooth.
Such cases can lead to the generation of excessive biting forces due to the lack of tactile sensation. Therefore, it is recommended to consider restorative options that save at least a few teeth if both arches are undergoing treatment.
In the case of an edentulous dental arch, consider staging treatment one arch first that is opposing natural teeth for the first few months. This will help the patient modify the occlusal load and the dentist to correct the occlusal plane for the next arch replacement.
Parafunctional habits often lead to damage to the tooth structure. Moreover, it can also lead to the development of malocclusions. Some of the common parafunctional patterns include bruxism, tooth clenching, and irregular chewing cycles.
These factors play a crucial role in determining the correct treatment for full arch tooth replacement. As mentioned earlier, natural teeth provide tactile sensation, which helps address the parafunctional habit and its load on the surrounding tissues.
However, dental implants do not provide the same proprioception. This means that the patient can develop an aggressive form of parafunctional habit, which can lead to permanent damage to the jaw bone and gums.
Therefore, it is best to consider recommending a suitable therapeutic option while placing full arch dental implants. For example, a bar-supported overdenture. It is typically a modification of a fixed dental bridge. Another advantage is that a flat-planed night guard can quickly be snapped onto the bar for retention during the night. The night guard protects the restorative prosthesis by reducing strain on the supporting implants and jaw bone.
High caries index
This factor plays a vital role when there are one or two natural teeth present in the dental arch. Sometimes, when natural teeth have minimal mobility and are mostly intact, the dentist may try to save them. Incorporating multiple dental implants around natural teeth may often increase the risk of developing periodontal disease. Moreover, it may also cause the failure of the treatment from tooth decay. Such situations are even dangerous than having parafunctional habits. (5)
Maintenance of full arch dental implants
After the completion of the treatment, some recommendations should be followed to increase the full arch dental implants’ longevity. This also helps to maintain the health and success of implant therapy and the therapeutic device.
Some of these crucial recommendations include –
- People with parafunctional habits must wear a nightguard to protect the dental device in mouth at night. A dentist can identify the signs of bruxism even when the patient is not aware of their habit. Additionally, the night guard helps to prevent cracking and chipping of the materials due to teeth grinding.
- Avoid eating hard foods like ice, hard candy, or hard nuts. Moreover, avoid chewy and sticky food such as tough bread and sticky taffy.
- Maintain good oral hygiene by regularly brushing and flossing between the therapeutic devices.
- Routine dental check-up and follow up appointments are crucial to increase the longevity of the dental implants and prosthesis. Usually, a hygiene recall program may be scheduled once every three to the four-month interval. (6)
During this time, the dentist may perform a professional cleaning and check for the implants’ stability. Any minor cracks or chipping of the crown may be fixed to restore the natural smile. Additionally, the dentist may recommend periodic x-ray studies to get a closer look at the condition of the implant. Moreover, it will help to determine the health of the bone and gum tissues.
What is the cost of full arch dental implants?
The cost of full arch dental implants depends on various factors such as the location of the implant, the number of implants per arch, the type of restoration, the expertise of the dentist, and the need for tooth extractions. On average the cost for a single arch of a dental implant could range between $15,000 and $30,000
Most dental insurance may not cover the cost of full arch dental implants unless it is the only dental option for the patient to restore the missing teeth in the mouth. Some Medicaid services may provide partial coverage of the treatment cost.
Take away message
Full arch dental implants are the most advanced and excellent choices of treatment for replacing the missing teeth in the dental arch permanently. These treatments help preserve the jaw bone, maintain tactile sensation, and give a natural-looking smile.
Typically, full arch dental implants can be used for patients who have lost most or all teeth in one or both the dental arches. Around four to six implants can be placed per arch to support the therapeutic device, such as a dental bridge or an overdenture.
While full arch dental implants may seem to be the perfect option to get an appealing smile, it might be an expensive treatment. Therefore, check with your insurance provider and your dentist to discuss the cost coverage before undergoing the procedure.