What Are Mini-Implants?
Dental implants provide a secure anchor for artificial teeth and offer a superior alternative to other tooth replacement methods.
Mini-implants – about half the size of regular dental implants – can still be effective in some cases and come with additional benefits. Mini-implants can also be used when standard implant treatment isn’t possible.
Mini dental implants (MDIs) have a tiny diameter of about 2.5 millimeters – equivalent to that of a toothpick. They can also be referred to as small-diameter implant (SDI) or narrow-diameter implant (NDI).
Conventional implants have two parts. A mini-implant is a solid, one-piece unit that combines the base with an abutment onto which artificial teeth can be placed.
How Mini-Implants Are Used
Not everyone is a good candidate for regular dental implant treatment.
For example, you may have a chronic medical condition, or smoke heavily, or have undergone radiation treatment to the neck or head. Oral issues such as gum disease or crooked teeth may also preclude routine dental implant placement.
In situations like these, mini-implants provide a solution that allows you to get the benefits of implant treatment.
While mini-implants can be used to replace a single tooth, they’re also used to secure dentures in place.
Individual Tooth Replacement With Mini-Implants
Like conventional dental implants, mini-implants are titanium screws that are inserted into the socket of a missing tooth.
Unlike standard implants, you don’t need a separate attachment to be fitted onto the implant base. The mini-implant protrudes through the gum to support the replacement tooth, typically a dental crown.
Mini-Implants to Support Dentures
Mini-implants make dentures more secure. This avoids the problems associated with loose-fitting dentures, which may fall out or slip around and irritate the gums. And you won’t have to use messy dental adhesive or repeatedly visit your dentist to have your dentures adjusted.
If you already wear dentures, you can have them adapted to be secured by mini-implants.
Benefits of Mini-Implants
MDIs come with the same benefits as standard dental implants, plus a whole lot more. Benefits of implants in general include:
- High success rate.
- Permanent solution.
- Bite improvement.
The titanium in dental implants fuses with jaw bone to promote bone growth. This avoids deterioration of facial structure that can occur with regular dentures and bridges.
Unlike conventional dental implants, MDIs can be placed without surgery. The less invasive, simpler procedure means:
- No incisions into the gum.
- No drilling of jaw bone.
- No need for stitches.
MDIs are placed using a localized anesthetic to minimize discomfort, and some dentists offer sedation dentistry to allow nervous patients to relax.
Standard dental implant treatment can take several months or even longer. Mini-implants can be placed in a single appointment. This makes them considerably less costly than routine dental implants.
MDIs avoid the need for an additional procedure, a bone graft, which is necessary to place conventional dental implants if you don’t have sufficient jaw bone density. The smaller diameter of mini-implants means they can be used without the need for a bone graft.
Further Benefits of MDIs
With mini-implants, you’ll also get benefits such as:
- Faster healing. Healing after the mini-implant procedure is much faster than with regular implants because it entails only minor disturbance of bone and gum tissue.
- Greater convenience. Most patients can resume normal activities the same day, with no dietary restrictions.
- Less risk of complications. Complications from MDI treatment are rare.
Advantages of mini-implants to support dentures include:
- Better functionality and appearance. Regular dentures cause jaw bone to weaken over time because it no longer needs to support a tooth. Mini-implants protect the structural integrity of the jaw. This ensures a better fit with greater functionality. It also preserves facial structure and a natural appearance.
- No need to replace your dentures. MDIs mean you won’t need to replace your dentures over time. This is necessary with regular dentures because jaw bone and gums will eventually shrink.
- Clearer speech. When ill-fitting dentures slip within the mouth, it can cause you to mumble or slur your words – a problem you won’t have with mini-implants.
- Affordability. Getting implant-supported dentures often costs less than individual implants throughout the mouth.
Mini-Implants to Support a Bridge
Mini-implants can also be used to support a dental bridge.
With conventional bridges, teeth on either side of the gap caused by a missing tooth need to be trimmed to facilitate bridge placement. MDIs avoid this problem and help to prevent surrounding teeth from moving out of position.
Disadvantages of Mini-Implants
Mini-implants aren’t as strong as regular dental implants and are less durable. Standard implants enable better weight distribution and put less long-term stress on jaw bone. The larger surface area of conventional implants also results in a stronger chewing action.
That said, in some instances, mini-implants are still the best tooth replacement solution. Mini-implant can also provide a short-term fix until a more permanent solution is possible.
How to Take Care of Mini-Implants
Mini-implants will continue to look and work like natural teeth as long as you maintain good oral hygiene.
Compared with standard dentures, MDIs take far less effort and time to keep clean. You still need to brush your teeth after every meal, including snacks. It’s also important to floss regularly and use a mouthwash that contains fluoride.
These basic oral hygiene measures will help to protect your natural teeth as well your implant-supported artificial teeth.
Are Mini-Implants Right for You?
Mini dental implants have seen a rapid rise in popularity in recent years, whether to replace a single tooth or several teeth.
Mini-implants offer a better solution to tooth loss in many cases, with enhanced appearance and better bite function than dentures, and a healthy smile that will last a lifetime. MDIs also ensure the stability of supporting bone structure, which is crucial in preventing future oral health issues.
Whether mini-implants are your best tooth replacement option depends largely on the condition of your mouth and jaw.
Contact us to find out whether mini-implants are the right tooth loss solution to restore your smile.
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