If you want to replace all of your upper or lower teeth, or all the teeth in your mouth, you might think that dentures are the obvious choice, but these are no longer the only option.
Many people now choose to replace their teeth with a fixed bridge supported by dental implants. A complete bridge of replacement teeth can be supported by 8 or more implants per jaw.
Book a consultation with your dentist to find out all the information you need about full arch dental implants and other treatments to replace missing teeth so you can decide which option is right for you.
How do full arch dental implants work?
Dental implants are titanium posts that are surgically placed in the jaw to support one or more teeth. The jaw heals around the implant to hold it firmly in place, after which time it can be covered by a natural-looking dental bridge or dentures.
A single implant normally supports one tooth or several teeth. If you want to replace all of your upper or lower teeth (or all the teeth in your mouth), your dentist may offer full arch implants as a more convenient alternative. This method uses fewer implants to support a whole row of replacement teeth.
Depending on your individual needs, this treatment may involve placing 8 or more implants per jaw, which are evenly spaced through the mouth. As placing each implant involves a minor surgical procedure, this option is less invasive and less expensive than traditional implant methods that involve a larger number of implants.
Who can have full arch implants?
You may be eligible for a full implant bridge if you have no natural teeth remaining in your upper or lower jaw (edentulous), you're replacing full dentures, or you have decayed or damaged teeth that you're having removed. In the latter case, your mouth will need time to heal from the extractions before dental implant surgery can begin.
Your jaw needs to have enough bone density to support an implant. If your jaw is too small or the bone has deteriorated, your dentist may suggest a bone grafting procedure to increase its size. However, this may not be an option if you have certain medical conditions, such as a disease that affects bone healing.
It's also important that you have healthy gums to be considered for an implant treatment, as gum disease can increase the risk of implant failure. Your dentist may also ask you to quit smoking or to improve your diet and oral hygiene if necessary, as these can also affect your results.
Pros and cons of dental implants
Dental implants can be the best long-term option for replacing all the teeth in your upper or lower jaw, but they're not right for everyone. Your dentist will make sure you have a balanced overview of the positive and negative about dental implants so you can make a fully informed decision about your treatment. These include:
Pros of implants
- While a bridge may need to be replaced after a number of years, the implants beneath can last a lifetime with proper care
- Look and feel more natural than dentures
- Stimulate the jaw to promote new bone development and prevent bone loss
- Don't affect what you can eat
- No special maintenance is required, just brush and floss like normal teeth
Cons of implants
- Implant surgery involves clinical risks, but these can be minimised when you choose a qualified and experienced dentist
- Involves multiple appointments
- Waiting time for implants to bond with your jaw
- Dental implants cost more than dentures, but some of these costs may be covered by health insurance or other funds
What are the alternatives to full arch implants?
If you're not a candidate for dental implants or you would prefer another option, other treatments to replace all the teeth in your jaw could include:
- Full dentures
- Implant-retained dentures
Your dentist can give you all the information about these treatments to help you decide what's best for you.
Full dentures or complete dentures are the traditional option for replacing all of the teeth in the upper or lower jaw. Dentures are removable and may be supported by suction or rest on the gum. This makes them less stable than implants and they will need to be periodically checked and adjusted by your dentist.
Dentures can take a few weeks or even a few months to get used to, but as long as they've been custom-made by your dentist, there shouldn't be any problems once your mouth adjusts. It's important to clean your dentures and your mouth every day to help prevent oral diseases, infections and bad breath.
Pros of dentures
- Fewer appointments and a shorter treatment timeline compared to implants
- No surgery is involved, unless you need to have extractions first
- More affordable than dental implants, though they will need to be replaced more often
Cons of dentures
- Don't support the jaw and face like dental implants
- May feel uncomfortable or come loose
- You may be advised to avoid certain foods or activities
- Require daily cleaning and maintenance
- Need to be replaced after several years
If you would prefer full dentures to a fixed bridge, but you want the benefits of implants, implant-supported dentures can offer the best of both. This treatment involves placing just 2 or more implants in the jaw that can support complete dentures.
If your idea of dentures is your grandparents' false teeth, ask your dentist to see some examples of modern dentures that could help to put your mind at ease. Today's dentures look and feel more natural than those of the past, as well as being more comfortable to wear, and they will feel more natural when supported by implants.
What's involved in the dental implant procedure?
Placing a dental implant is a surgical procedure that needs to be performed by a qualified and experienced dentist or oral surgeon. If you're replacing a whole arch of teeth, this will involve placing 8 or more implants across several appointments to support a fixed bridge or a minimum of 2 implants to support dentures. Meticulous planning is needed to determine the exact position and orientation of implants in the mouth.
Implant procedures are conducted under local anaesthetic to numb pain, but other sedation options may be requested if you need help to stay calm or you're having multiple implants placed at once. A minor incision will then be made in your gum and a pilot hole made in your jaw bone that the implant will be carefully inserted into.
Once the implants have been placed, a temporary bridge or dentures may be fitted so you can eat and speak normally while your implant is bonding with your jaw, which can take between 2 and 6 months. When your implant is secure in your jaw, your dentist can create your custom dental bridge or denture abutments and attach your replacement teeth into place.
What risks are associated with dental implants?
Dental implants have a high success rate, but as a surgical procedure, there is always a minor risk of complications. These can include:
- infection of the gum
- damage to nerves or blood vessels
- sinus problems if implants in the upper jaw contact the sinus cavities
You can lower your risks by choosing a qualified and experienced dentist at a QIP-accredited dental clinic that is committed to patient safety and uses advanced implant materials and technologies. You are more likely to experience problems if you fly overseas for cheap dental implants at unregulated clinics.
How happens after getting dental implants?
You should take it easy for a few days after having your implants placed, but you may be able to go back to work the next day, as long as you avoid over-exerting yourself. It's normal to experience some pain and swelling that can be managed with over-the-counter medication. Your gums may also bleed at first, but this should stop after applying pressure.
Your dentist will recommend that you eat soft foods for a few days and avoid hard and chewy foods until your permanent dental bridge is placed. No special care is needed for an implant, but you should brush and floss your replacement teeth every day to remove food and bacteria that can cause gum problems and bad breath.
If your mouth continues to bleed or you have other unexpected problems after an implant treatment, contact your dental clinic to see if you need an emergency dentist.
Full arch dental implants on the Gold Coast
If you're considering dental implants to replace all your teeth or support dentures, talking to our dentists at Robina Town Dental will help you to understand your options.
Our experienced implant dentists use advanced MCGUIDE software and clinically proven MIS implants and other high quality tools to offer safe and predictable implant treatments at our Gold Coast dental clinic.
To schedule an implant consultation at Robina Town Dental, call our team on 07 5575 9100 or book an appointment online and we'll get back to you. We are conveniently located in Robina Town Shopping Centre on the Gold Coast and welcome patients from Burleigh Heads, Mudgeeraba, Miami and other nearby suburbs.
Healthdirect. Dental implant procedure [Online] 2021 [Accessed October 2021] Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dental-implant
Healthdirect. Dentures [Online] 2021 [Accessed October 2021] Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dentures