How Many Dental Implants Do I Need

Fewer dental implants is the way to go when it comes to replacing all the teeth in the upper/lower jaw. Less is more.

Historically (which for implant dentistry means over 5 years ago) it was assumed that one needed as many implants as possible to support a full set of teeth in the upper or lower jaw.
Glib terms like ‘belt and braces’ approach were bandied about – with no evidence other than a vague feeling that ‘more is better’

How many dental implants is enough

As per the image above (not from one of our studies), of both jaws full of dental implants, it was ‘felt’ that the more implants that were used, the ‘stronger’ the teeth would be, the longer they would last.

Furthermore it was ‘felt’ that if an implant failed after insertion – then this would not be a problem because of all the ‘redundancy’ built into the case…. Redundancy is the correct word in this context because in a case where 10 implants have been placed (see above) 40% of them are redundant

Why don’t we need 10 dental implants?

There are two answers to this question

  • The physical strength of titanium implants is high enough that – in most cases – 4 implants will be perfectly strong enough to support a bridge with a full set of teeth on it for years. This has been proven by the All on 4 concept developed by Nobel Biocare in conjunction with the Malo Clinic in Portugal – a treatment now used worldwide.
  • The chance of implant failure immediately after surgery should be so low that it would be over-treatment to put extra implants into every patient ‘in case of post operative failure’

The dental implant failure-rate of each clinic is a factor here…

There is a caveat. At Winning Smiles we have a record of post operative failure of 1 in 250 implants over the last 10 years- so it is quite safe for us to say that we don’t need ‘spares’ in every case. In those cases where there has been an initial failure, because we only use 4 or 6 implants, there is always bone available in between the replace the very occasional early failure.

However if the implants were failing more often….then might I be inclined to place more of them to act as spares??

“We don’t want 10 dental implants in each jaw because we KNOW they don’t last forever”

  • Implants will last 15 years + in a healthy mouth, with perfect cleaning (oral hygiene), in a non smoker with no diabetes and no previous history of gum (periodontal) disease.
  • Implants will last less than 10 years in patients who smoke, are diabetic, find their oral hygiene challenging, and in some patients who have lost their teeth through gum/periodontal disease.

And long term implant failure tends to occur in crops – ie if 10 implants are placed together then they will all fail within a couple of years of each other in the long term.

So What?

  • When implants fail, they badly damage the bone around them
  • If the implant dentist has put 8, 10 or 12 implants in each jaw then they are all close together
  • WHEN they fail (not IF) there will be no bone left between them to allow more implants to be placed…or extensive bone grafting will be required to allow more implants to be fitted to remedy the situation and allow the patient to continue living ‘denture free’.
  • The chance of implant failure is lower because fewer implants are easier to keep spotless – and the evidence shows that spotless implants last longer than less than spotless ones…

The advantages of placing fewer implants – in short

  • Simpler treatment, less traumatic
  • Lower cost to the patient
  • Often allows the case to be re-done more simply when the implants fail 7-15 years later
  • Reduces the need for bone grafting in the first place
  • Reduced the chances of needing a bone graft to place more implants in the future
  • Easier to clean around fewer implants – which means they will last longer

Feel free to browse a gallery selection of our before and after
Dental Implant case studies

The Consultation

Why not come and talk through your options? We don’t charge.

At your consultation we will spend about half an hour talking to you about your dental problems and what solutions are available to you. We will also look at your mouth to help us to see what the issues are with our own eyes.

Don’t worry. We will not be poking and prodding you, or taking moulds, or bombarding you with xrays and salesy-talk. The best thing about the consultation is that you get to meet us face to face and have a real conversation about what you wish to achieve – and where relevant – what has stopped you from coming before now.

By the end of the consultation you will

  • Have a reasonable idea of whether you are suitable for the treatment that interests you – over 90% of patients are
  • Have a very good idea of what your financial investment would be
  • Know that we are very easy to talk to, won’t patronise, and that we appreciate that people can be nervous
  • Know whether we can work within your time-frame ie many patients come because they have a specific event which they want to smile at like a family wedding, holiday etc

If you are happy to proceed with the next step (there is never any pressure to do this) then we will book your next appointment

We set out to be a friendly practice and try to provide everybody with what’s right for them, at an affordable cost. We hope our dentist reviews give that impression.

To book a free consultation , please complete the form below to email us, and we will mail or call you back. Alternatively, call us first for a quick chat.

Free Consultation

Without seeing things for ourselves, we can’t tell people what their options are.

And so with that in mind, we are happy to offer free consultations, as this is a big decision for most people. We are careful to take budget, comfort and appearance into account when explaining all the available choices and there is never any pressure to proceed, and certainly not on the day.

We set out to be a friendly practice and try to provide everybody with what’s right for them, at an affordable cost. We hope our dentist reviews give that impression.

Book a Free Consultation

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