Are you having trouble with your regular dentures? Do you want life like dentures that don’t slip when you eat or talk? For those of you who suffer from gum disease or bad teeth, dentures supported by implants are likely just what you are looking for. With this type of care some patients consider “mini-implants”, most often patients will have 2 standard diameter implants placed.
What are Mini Implants for Dentures?
As the name suggests, mini implants are smaller diameter root form implants that are placed in the bone, much like conventional root form implants. The dentures are then fixed to these implants, either immediately or later, snapping the denture onto the head of the implant. This kind of teeth, relys on an adaquate denture and support from the gum tissue so chewing is improved over a denture, yet not as much as when enough implants are placed to support all the chewing forces ( All on Four). Patients will notice that food still gets under the denture in the back of the mouth, causing you to stop enjoying your meal with either 4 mini implants or 2 standard root form implants.
What are Mini Implants used for?
Mini-implants are widely used fo a “possibly adaquate” support to hold a denture in place and are best for teeth located in the front of the mouth. They have also been successfully used to replace teeth that are located in a small area of the mouth where regular implants cannot be placed.
Types of Dental Implants
When you go consider implant dentistry, you must make sure that you choose a restorative dentist (general dentist) and a dental implant surgeon that recommends the best dental implants for your situation and for the changes you are seeking. There are substantial differences in the knowledge level, experience and training between dentists, when it comes to implant dentistry.
Three types of implants for him/her to choose from:
- Mini Dental Implant: These are root form implants that are the smallest diameter implants available, and the diameter of the implant is critical to implant success. Mini implants themselves are technically less than 3mm in diameter (about the diameter of an ink cartridge in a ball point pen). The placement of these is similar to the root form implants, however they are almost half their diameter. The procedure is simpler, which makes it appeal to the novice implant dentist. These are also used when smaller amounts of bone are availble or where cost is a primary concern.
- Sub-Periosteal Implants – This is an early design of dental implants (60+ years old) that is rarely used today. It is a metal framework that is inserted under the gum line, on the bone. Metal posts that are part of the framework come through the gum tissue, into the mouth to hold a denture into place. Few surgeons place this implant due to the invasiveness of the surgery, and the higher numbers of problems assoicated with the implant.
- Standard Root-Form Implants: These are the Standard of Care, that all other implants are compared to, and have been heavily researched and used in dentistry well over 50 years. They are also, like mini implants placed directly into the center of the jaw bone. This anchor serves as a base for a crow (for a single tooth) and for multiple teeth, few implants will support multiple teeth. Root form implants need an adaquate bone base, which is typically available and are easily 95% of all dental implants placed world wide.
Benefits of Mini Dental Implants
Mini implants under dentures, can work better than regular dentures and are most often used to secure loose dentures in place. Alternatives to this are 1) using denture adhesives, 2) live with the loose denture or 3) using a standard implant. The benefits of these small and cheap dental implants appear inviting on the surface, Read my blog articles on mini implants to learn more than this paper discusses.
Mini implants like standard root form implants are manufactured from titanium. The metal is anti-corrosive, resistant to acids, salt and oxygen, and the human body adapts more easily to titanium than any other metal, allowing quick dental implant recovery, so much so that the bone (in which the implant is placed) fuses over time with the implants. In my experience, it is easy to remove a mini implant as they don’t fuse well to the bone. Given their size so they don’t have much potentital to last a lifetime and the literature clearly notes a much higher failure rate with mini implants.
Mini dental implants are relatively painless as are standard root form implants, cost less for the dentist to buy each one and function similarly to regular root form implants. Although the success rates of mini implants are significantly lower than standard implants they are marketed as “affordable”, and often the dentist placing them will place twice as many as a standard root form implant to attempt to compensate for their inherent weakness. As with root form implants you can go home the same day you get them placed.
The recuperation time is simular to a standard root form implant which means few if any days off from work are needed. The recovery is the same for both types of implants as the surgery is minimally invasive.
How Long Will Mini Implants Last? This is my primary concern:
- Dental implant longivity depends on
- the forces put on the implant,
- the bone density,
- the volume of bone available,
- the number and position of the implants (s),
- the sex of the patient (males put more force on their teeth than females),
- the size and number of implants and
- Most importantly if the patient tends to grind or clench their teeth.Certainly the cleaning you do at home, around the gum line, plays a role in how long implants last as well. With standard root form implants and mini implants, good oral hygiene is essential to long term stability of a dental implant.
- Smoking and alcohol both affect bone healing for the worse, and exercise improves bone healing so these are factors too in implant longivity.
- As with all implants, mini implants are at risk of fractures, breakage and wear and tear due to use. Studies show a greater force on implants than teeth. Standard implants will with stand the maximum biting forces and the rates of fracture, breakage, implant loss and damage are all lower with standard implants. Mini implants have a proven track record of a substantially higher rate of fracture and implant failure.
How Safe are Mini Implants?
Mini implant are relatively safe to have placed. The problem with them, is that the the diameter of them is too small to withstand the forces of chewing. Taking a look at some of the procedures and precautions that you should know about:
- In a typical mini implant procedure, the implant is placed into the jaw and provides a base for the denture, much as standard implants.
- With both mini implants and standard root form implants, “you can” eat as soon as the implants are done, yet a soft to liquid diet allows the tissue and bone to heal better.
- Tooth-brushing is encouraged only after an initial couple of day, and we prepare patients, giving them a super soft tooth brush to clean the area around the implant.
- With both standard root form implants and mini implants, the mild discomfort you may have will be taken care of with pain killers that Dr Kammeyer will prescribe before the surgery. We take pride in the number of steps we take to help patients have NO pain, and routinely hear they had none.
- One of the claims with Mini implants is that “there is no need for sutures”. Using a “blind” surgical technique, as used with mini implants, often back fires, and again surgeons with years of experience typically don’t use mini implants, and few use the “sutureless approach” routinely.
Role or Importance of Mini Dental Implants Services in Orthodontics
Here is one of the few places mini implants are very effective. A form of the mini implant, a T.A.D.(Temporary Anchorage Device) is often used in orthodontics. This is a great way to help patients with braces, where needed; it helps achieve quicker tooth movement with more efficiency and comfort. TADs may be used in addition to braces or as an alternative to headgear. Orthodontists that use these TAD’s tell me they are VERY EASY to remove, as with other mini implants and have helped orthodontics considerably.
Mini implants also work great as temporary support while you wait for the more permanent larger implants to connect to the bone. They are sometimes used when replacing or refitting the old dentures to help keep them in place, reduce discomfort to the patient and increase their denture life, yet standard implants work more predictably and can be provided at a simular cost.
Summary Opinion about Mini Implants
Today there is no need to take the riskes that mini implants carry, unless your standards for success are extremely low. This may change over time, yet mini implants have been attempted for decades. For now get a second opinion from a qualified surgeon, that uses solely or mostly standard implants, before you invest in mini dental implants. Some claim mini implants are known to “last longer as they are smaller and less invasive” and I have yet to read a research paper that supports that viewpoint. I read 7 journals that are devoted to implant dentistry. I seldom read research on Mini implants, as the implant profession as a whole, finds little use for something that is still a surgical procedure, takes significant time and money and has such a low success rate.