Bigger is not always better, and in the case of dental implants, that is true much of the time. Dental implants have proven to be an effective way of replacing a patient's lost or missing teeth; no other procedure offers the same level of strength and longevity. However, in the past decade, a new spin on dental implants has been developed; the advent of mini dental implants has made them an option for a vast number of patients. Following are some reasons why mini dental implants are a great alternative to consider:
How are mini dental implants different than full size implants?
Smaller in Size
As the name suggests, the first, obvious difference between mini implants and full size dental implants is the size of the post. The post, which is often a screw, is used to securely fasten the implant to the patient's jaw bone. For full size implants, the post typically measures at least 3.5 millimeters in diameter and can be as large as 6 millimeters. However, in the case of mini implants, a much thinner screw is used; in some cases, the screw is half or even two-thirds smaller than full size implant posts.
Another key difference between mini dental implants and their full sized counterparts is the impact of the procedure on patients. Here are some specific advantages offered by mini implants:
No cutting of gum tissues – full sized implants require that the dentist make incisions in the gums to expose the surface of the bone before inserting the post. In a two-stage procedure, the dentist has to make another incision to attach the false tooth to the implant. This can lead to tender gums that require extra care for healing. With mini implants, the dentist makes no incisions; instead, the screw is inserted through a tiny hole in the gums and drilled straight into the bone.
Immediate placement of teeth – with full sized implants, the teeth are usually not attached to the implant post after the initial procedure. This lengthens the window of treatment, which can be fatiguing for some patients, such as the elderly or those in poor health. With mini implants, the false tooth can be attached immediately after the post is screwed into the bone.
No need for post-implant failure grafting – if a full size implant fails, then the dentist will need to perform a bone graft to fill the space where the post was inserted but then removed. This adds to the recovery time and is an additional stress for the patient. However, when mini implants fail, the dentist simply removes the screw and there is no need for further augmentation of the jaw bone.
Available to a wider range of patients
Mini dental implants are typically available to a more diverse group of patients for a couple of reasons:
Lower cost – mini dental implants cost much less than standard full size implants. Depending on your location, you may pay as little as one-third of the cost as compared to full sized implants.
Increased flexibility – mini dental implants can be placed in jaw bones that have shrunk over the years due to non-usage. Full sized implants need to have a substantial amount of bony material in order to make a firm connection.
Are there situations where mini dental implants should not be used?
Though you can see that mini dental implants work well for a lot of patients, there are still instances when full size implants should be used. For example, larger teeth such as the rear molars require a wider base of support than the narrow, smaller front teeth; a mini implant is not ideal in that situation. However, only a dentist can answer those questions for sure. If you have any questions about getting dental implants, mini or full size, you should contact a dental clinic, like Insero, for assistance.