Pros and Cons of Mini Dental Implants vs Traditional Dental Implants
Dental implants are a permanent tooth root replacement option that supports artificial teeth. They are a popular alternative to more conventional ways of fixing the problem of missing teeth. Implants are used to replace one or several teeth or to hold removable dentures in place.
Implants are made from titanium, a strong but lightweight metal that’s compatible with the human body and therefore won’t prompt a reaction from the immune system. In fact, implants are unique in dentistry in stimulating bone growth. The titanium post is fixed into the bone socket of a missing tooth, and the jaw bone grows back around the implant, holding it securely in the jaw.
Implants can restore your smile and self-esteem, and let you eat your favorite foods again while maintaining the structural integrity of your jaw and giving you a bite power much stronger than conventional dentures. Implants also provide stability for your surrounding natural teeth and can last for decades if you take care of them properly.
The Difference Between Mini Implants and Standard Implants
Dental Implants come in two forms: standard implants and MDIs (mini dental implants). The basic difference between standard implants and mini implants lies in their size, durability and overall function.
Traditional implants usually comprise two pieces with a diameter of 3.25 to 5 millimeters that are inserted into the bone socket of missing teeth with an external screw.
Mini dental implants are a solid, one-piece screw, less than 3mm in diameter, with a special ball-shaped end that protrudes from the jaw bone. Because of their smaller size, mini implants are also called narrow diameter implants or small diameter implants (NDIs and SDIs).
Regular and mini implants each have their own advantages and drawbacks. Whether an implant is right for you, and which type would be better, depends on the condition of your mouth.
The only person who can determine the optimum implant treatment for you is an experienced implant dentist. However, to give you some food for thought, we’ve put together a few pros and cons of mini dental implants vs traditional dental implants.
Pros of Mini Dental Implants
One big advantage of mini implants is that, unlike standard implants, they can be used for patients who’ve lost a significant amount of jaw bone structure. Coeur d'Alene Dental Center adds, "A person who has worn dentures for many years has more than likely lost much of the boney support of their jaw and this results in a loose, ill-fitting lower denture. Adding 4-6 mini implants can give the denture wearer the comfort, confidence, and security they need to wear their lower denture proudly."
Causes of jaw bone atrophy include teeth extractions without a timely replacement, periodontitis (gum disease), misalignment of teeth, and trauma when a tooth is broken or knocked out.
In cases where an individual has lost too much bone to make standard implants viable and wants to avoid a grafting procedure, mini implants may be the only option.
Another big plus of mini implants is that they eliminate the need for major surgery – anchors are placed in the jaw during one relatively non-invasive treatment. MDIs are designed to eliminate bone grafting and expedite the implant procedure.
Mini implants are also less costly. Traditional implants can be expensive, especially if many visits to the dentist are required.
The most common use for MDIs is to stabilize a lower denture, but they can be placed anywhere in the mouth and used to replace one or more missing teeth.
Other benefits of mini implants include:
- They can be made to fit your existing dentures.
- Easier chewing and biting.
- Better smelling breath.
- Easier cleaning.
- Firmer denture fit.
- Clearer speech.
- High success rate.
- No need for adhesives or bonding agents.
- No slipping or discomfort.
- Permanent results.
Cons of Mini Dental Implants
Because mini implants are about half the diameter of conventional implants, two MDIs are needed to do the job of a single standard implant. This can put slightly more stress on the jaw bone and entail a longer healing time, because of the different weight distribution.
Regular implants provide a longer-term solution than mini implants, mainly because they enable better weight distribution and put less long-term stress on the jaw bone. Conventional implants, with their larger surface area, also provide a stronger chewing force.
Rubber O-rings on dentures that fit around the mini implant balls will have to be replaced when they wear out or if they become loose. The more frequently you take your dentures out and put them back in, the more often you’ll need to have the O-rings replaced.
Standard Implant or Mini Implant?
The WebMD health information resource says anyone healthy enough to have a routine tooth extraction is a potential candidate for a regular implant.
Nevertheless, there may be problems in cases where people are suffering from chronic illnesses, are heavy smokers, or have undergone radiation therapy to the head or neck. In these circumstances, mini-implants may provide an effective alternative to standard implants.
Bone, like muscle tissue, atrophies when not stimulated or exercised. Dentures unsupported by implants don’t address this problem, because they don’t replace the tooth roots. This is why many patients opt for dental implants to replace missing teeth or as a support for a dental plate. Mini dental implants have proven to be a highly-effective means of stabilizing dentures.
Get Advice from an Implant Expert
Implants help to maintain the strength of the jaw bone by replacing the entire missing tooth structure, including the root. According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID), 35 million people in the U.S. have lost all their upper or lower teeth, or both. Whether standard implants or mini implants are best for you depends largely on the condition of your mouth and jaw. To make an informed decision, talk to a dentist experienced in both mini implants and standard implants.