Is 3 on 6 Dental Implants Better Than All-on-4?

mouth model with all-on-4 dental implants

I’ve been hearing good things about all-on-4 dental implants and finally decided to go in for a consult. I only have a couple teeth remaining on my upper arch and they are ready to go now too. The all-on-4 treatment seemed like the most cost-effective solution. Instead, the dentist tried to push me toward the 3 on 6 option. It seemed a bit excessive to me since he’s telling me I should get two additional dental implants—why bother if the same results can be achieved through four? At the same time, this was the first I’d heard of 3 on 6, so is there maybe more I’m not aware of?



Dear Bill,

These are some great questions and 3-on-6 is a new concept to lots of people, so let’s break this down a bit.

A Dental Implant Mimics Your Natural Tooth

When most people think of implants, they picture a full tooth-like structure; the implant, itself, which anchors into the jawbone, and a crown that sits on top and looks like your natural tooth. However, implants can serve as “roots” for many different types of prostheses.

You may prefer a singular “root” for several missing teeth to make getting implants more affordable or your dentist may suggest it if you’re coping with additional issues like diminished bone.

3 on 6 = Six Dental Implants on Three Bridges

With 3 on 6, your arch is basically segmented into three sections. Each section has two single implants with false teeth over the top. Think of it like a traditional dental bridge but with artificial roots instead of natural teeth with crowns serving as anchors.

All-on-4 = Four Dental Implants on a Denture

The all-on-4 is similar in that you have four artificial roots and a prosthesis on top. However, the prosthesis doesn’t just include the teeth—it has “gums” too. Furthermore, the roots are slightly angled.

Neither is Better: You Need to Choose What’s Right for You

The difference isn’t cosmetic and what works best for you depends on your unique case. For example, the longer your natural teeth are missing, the thinner your bone tends to be. This is normal and to be expected. When the body knows the bone isn’t needed, it starts to absorb the nutrients in it and reroute it to other parts of your body. You could, in theory, undergo bone grafting and other procedures to remedy this or your dentist may be able to angle the roots so they can anchor firmly despite the diminished bone. In cases like this, the all-on-4 is better.

At the same time, you may prefer 3 on 6 for greater stability. Research suggests implants can help slow or stop bone loss after a tooth is gone too. That’s a boon for anyone worried about facial collapse and helps ensure stability as well.

It doesn’t sound like your dentist was steering you wrong but he may not have given you a clear picture of all your options and why he thinks one is better over the other for you. Place a call to the office and see if you can meet with him again or chat over the phone about his recommendation. If you still don’t get a clear answer, get a second opinion from another dentist.

This blog is sponsored by Dr. Steve Sirin, an Elgin dental implant provider.

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