Dental implant technology is fascinating. In this day and age you have a number of choices that you can make to partially or even completely restore your smile. Where before, we were limited to dentures, the process of applying a supportive post under the gums or bonded to the jaw to which we can affix teeth has been a game changer. Perhaps you are considering getting some yourself and you have heard of the latest option available called ‘mini implants’? So what exactly are mini dental implants and how do they compare to the current reigning standard implants? In this article we are going to explore that. Let’s start by introducing the standard types of implants.
The two main types of dental implants
There are two main types of dental implants that are approved and hot on the market these days. These two main types are as follows and they are typically two-piece implants ranging in diameter size from 1.8 to 7 mm:
- Endosteal - These types of implants are fitting directly to your jawbone. Very durable, they are composed of titanium and look very much like small screws.
- Subperiosteal – These are placed under your gum line and while they are above on placed on the jawbone they are designed as implants for those whose jawbones are not in suitable shape for endosteal implants. This is commonly due to bone density factors and/or a desire not to undergo bone augmentation to support.
So, what are mini dental implants?
Mini dental implants are a newer offering in the dental world for replacing lost teeth. One piece implants, they are typically less than 3 mm in diameter. What this means surgically is that they are easier to place in areas with low bone density. There are quite a lot of other reasons why many are viewing these new additions to the implant world, reasons such as:
- Cost – Mini implants are easier to put in. They require less drilling and less invasive surgery. They are smaller and thus require less material to manufacture. Finally, the healing time is faster, which means fewer visits to the dentist.
- Healing time – That faster healing time that we mentioned means that some patients can get the tooth added onto the implant base as early as the same day. With other implant types you can be looking at weeks of healing.
- Good option for damaged jawbones – If your jawbone has been damaged due to tooth decay/deterioration, Mini Implants can be put into place in most cases where standard implants might fracture your already stressed jawbone. .
How long have Mini Implants been a common practice?
Relatively new, Mini Implants have been around for a few years now. They are fast becoming a popular item with those who might not normally be able to get implants or who prefer a less invasive surgical procedure.
Are they safe?
The traditional implants as well as the Mini Implants are considered quite safe so you should have no worries there.
“There is less data regarding their long-term durability.”
Are there any ‘cons’ to the Mini Implants?
How long do Mini Dental Implants last? As they are a newer market offering, there is less data regarding their long-term durability. That said, they should last for many years without any issues. Also, there are other considerations. For instance, multiple implants may be required in some cases to ensure implant survival. It should be noted that due to growth factors, this treatment is also not suitable for children.
Are there any conditions that could prevent my eligibility for Mini Implants?
There are some conditions which could make you ineligible for these types of implants. Conditions include the following:
- Blood clotting issues
- Chronic gum/periodontal inflammation
- Lack of sufficient soft tissue to work with
- Untreated diabetes
- Taking anticoagulants
- Certain types of bone disease
- Various pharmaceuticals which affect bone growth
- Inadequate bone width or height
Mini dental implants vs. Regular implants. Which are the right ones for me?
Your dentist will know for sure and be able to advise you which implant scenario is going to be the most efficacious for you. That said, if your jawbone is strong and healthy, Endosteal implants are generally the stand. They are quite durable and may be employed to replace one, two, or even full sets of teeth. If your jawbone is not healthy there are some treatments that may be able to mitigate this and improve your eligibility for endosteal implants. Treatments such as:
- Ridge expansion - This involves bone grafts which are added in order to strengthen the jawbone so that it will support your endosteal implant.
- Bone augmentation - This is a process that involves strengthening the natural bone so that the density, height, and width is at a nominal level to support the procedure. This can be done by introducing various bone additives to the jawbone.
- Sinus lift - For your upper jaw, this involves adding bone behind the sinus and is typically employed in the case of missing front teeth where an endosteal implant is desirous.
Should the endosteal implants not be an option, subperosteal implents are good for multiple implants and Mini Implants are an option. The subperiosteal reside under the gum line and are above or on the jaw, rather than affixed. By contrast, the Mini Implants are suitable for affixing to thin or damaged jaw lines and fuse to the bone. Due to the less invasive nature of the surgery, the quick healing, and the lesser cost then the Mini Implants may be a much more attractive option for those with a compromised jawbone.
We’ve discussed what Mini Dental Implants are, as well as Mini Implants vs. Regular implants, but the final judgement call is going to be up to you and your dentist. That said, should you choose Mini Implants for yourself you can rest assured that they are not only safe but can certainly make you smile.