What are mini implants?
Mini-dental implants have been around for many years. They were designed to help hold on to temporary restorations in larger implant reconstructions and they have now been approved by the FDA for “long term and ongoing use” for retaining dentures and partial dentures.
Dr. Richard and Ariel Winter at Hampton Dental Associates are renowned for their work with mini-implants and Dr. Richard is an instructor that lectures on this technology. These can be used to help hold dentures or partial dentures in place more securely. Some dentists use these small diameter implants to hold on to crowns but it is only for small lower front teeth or upper lateral incisors. Full size implants have much more surface area and are always the treatment of choice for replacing single or multiple teeth! If mini-implants are being suggested to replace a molar tooth I would suggest you come in for a consultation prior to having small 1.8mm pins attempt to hold on to a larger molar which has many chewing forces associated with grinding steak and chicken and the like.
How Are Mini Implants Different?
Traditional dental implants have a diameter of 3mm or greater. The mini implant measures just 1.8-2.9 mm in diameter, making it the hole for implant placement much less intrusive on surrounding bone tissue. The mini implant is inserted into a hole whose diameter is about one-third that of the traditional implant. This small titanium pin is about as thin 2 toothpicks. Rather than having an abutment (or chimney), the mini implant fits into its restoration via a small ball on the upper end of the implant. The size of the mini implant creates a less invasive procedure, but it should be noted that the smaller diameter may exclude mini dental implants as ideal for posterior teeth at the back of the mouth as thin implants are not strong enough for biting forces generated in the back of the mouth.
While some dentists use mini-implants to replace back teeth, Dr. Winter feels this is not advisable. Forces can cause cantilevers and if a large crown is purchased on top of a thin screw there is bending and tipping forces that can cause the implants to break, loosen and develop peri-implantitis or gum disease around the implants. Large crowns and small titanium posts don’t work well together as they can lead to food impaction as well.
Who Are Mini Implants Best Suited For?
When possible, our preference is to fit a patient with standard dental implants. The larger surface area and length are well-suited to patients who need molar support. Mini dental implants may be a better option than traditional implants for the patient who has experienced more significant bone resorption. Mini implants may be inserted at the front of the mouth to support upper or lower dentures. You should realize that while 4 mini-implants per arch are the minimum we will perform to stabilize a denture, you would need 6 mini-implants in the upper arch if you want the palatal acrylic removed to allow your tongue to touch your natural roof of your mouth. Since the bone in the upper jaw is significantly weaker, 6 implants will help distribute forces better, this will allow the palate to be removed in some instances.
How Can Mini Implants Help Denture Wearers?
One of the primary issues that can occur with dentures is that they don’t stay in place. Denture wearers may spend an extraordinary amount of time applying just enough adhesive to secure the denture without creating a sticky mess. Mini dental implants create the stable foundation that patients desire and deserve. Talking, chewing, smiling, and laughing with a denture become much more comfortable actions. With the right number of mini dental implants in place, the denture not only looks natural but also feels much more natural than it would otherwise.
Mini dental implants may be smaller than traditional implants, but they achieve similar benefits. Bone regeneration is one of them. Traditional dentures sit on the gums, creating pressure that can accelerate the loss of bone tissue in the jaw. Mini dental implants sit within the bone just like natural roots. Their presence sends vibrations from chewing into the bone. These vibrations, which once traveled through natural roots, stimulate ongoing bone growth and may help maintain the bone.
Are Mini-Implants Better Under Partial Dentures Or Should Traditional Implants Be Used?
Whenever there is enough bone, traditional implants are the best! While mini-implants cannot be upgraded to hold crowns or bridges in the future, a traditional implant can be upgraded. Since we can screw “chimneys” or “snaps” on to regular implants there are many paths we can take in your future to help you have the best chewing and best prosthetic options as you age. If you choose to upgrade to regular implant crowns or bridges in the future, the mini-implants will need to be removed so larger implants can be placed.
When are mini-implants useful?
When people have minimal bone left to place traditional implants or when someone is very limited financially and they would like an interim restoration while they are saving up for traditional implants. Sometimes we use minis to hold temporary restorations while underlying implants or bone grafts are healing. Mini-implants can sometimes be placed without a large surgery and often we will wait to activate the snaps on mini-implants until the implants have integrated (usually 3 months) during which time a soft liner will keep forces off of the mini-implants.
If someone wants to eliminate the acrylic in their upper denture a minimum of 6 mini-implants must be placed and then we will make a metal reinforced horseshoe designed partially so you may taste your food and feel temperatures better.
In the lower arch a minimum of 4 mini implants are needed to hold a lower denture but we will always try to place 6 to insure more retention, support and chewing stability.
Can Mini-Implants Be Used If I Still Have Surrounding Teeth?
Yes! Sometimes adding the retention balls of mini-implants can take the wear and tear off of your teeth. Since partial dentures have clasps that can act like levers which eventually loosen your teeth; the mini-implants can add more “clasps” or retention points to create less shear forces to your teeth. Sharing the load with natural teeth can also help preserve these natural teeth for a longer period of time. So mini-implants are a wonderful addition to some partial dentures.
Advantages of using mini implants
- Mini implants can provide patients with the same benefits as conventional types of implants, but have the added advantage of being smaller. Thanks to that smaller size, mini implants can be used with patients who may not be good candidates for conventional implants.
- Because of their smaller size, mini implants do not require as much bone thickness to be able to be implanted and used to support a dental restoration.
- Additionally, mini implants are installed in a much less invasive procedure that causes less disturbance and trauma to the bone and surrounding gum tissue. Mini implants require only a small opening to be implanted into the bone, making them ideal even for elderly patients who have lost a good deal of bone mass.
- Installation of mini implants is relatively simple, requiring only one to two hours in your dentist’s office using local anesthesia.
- Healing time is short. Discomfort lasts for about 48 hours after which the patient can resume normal eating and return to work.
- Because of the smaller diameter of mini implants, they require very little bone to be taken away from the actual bone mass of the jaw. Mini implants can become sturdier than conventional implants because there is a more bone structure left to support them.
- Mini implants are threaded, not embedded, into the bone. This adds to their ability to be stable enough to support a dental restoration without compromising their long-term capacity.
- Apart from their more convenient size, the faster procedure, and the less invasive nature of mini implants, they are also significantly less expensive than conventional dental implants.
Why Should I Get Mini Implants?
Mini implants can be great for a patient’s self image. Now the person can eat, speak, and smile as they did before their tooth loss. The procedure is minimally invasive when compared with typical full dental implant surgery. However, similar to its full-scale counterparts, mini implants are still able to anchor dental crowns, bridges, and dentures securely in place.
What Is The History Of Mini Implants?
Mini dental implants were first developed in the 1970s by Dr. Victor I. Sendax. They were not marketed until the 1990s and, even when they were, they were not immediately popular. The initial use of mini implants was intended to be temporary. They were inserted as a place-holder for traditional implants. However, when dentists attempted to remove the mini implants for replacement with larger posts, they found that the smaller implants had already integrated into the bone. This provided the first evidence that mini dental implants could serve as a viable long-term solution for some patients.
The FDA approved the first mini dental implants in 2002. Since that time, research has continued to prove the efficacy of the mini dental implant in appropriate applications.
What is the procedure for installing mini implants?
- A twist drill is used to create a small pilot hole on the indicated area inside the oral cavity where the implant will be placed. Using the drill, a small hole will be made on the gingival tissue and will continue until the hole is made in the periosteum. The depth of the hole is about one third the length of the mini implant to be used.
- The mini implants will then be placed in position in the pilot hole and carefully threaded until securely set inside the dental alveolus, or the tooth socket. As the mini implant is threaded into the hole in this process, it also progressively expands the bone so that the two components are fused together tightly.
- Once the mini implants are in place, ball abutments will be attached. This is where the dental restorations will connect to the implants.
Click here to read more about this Mini-Implant patient case study.
How Do I Place And Remove My Dentures?
Mini dental implants have a ball-retention feature that snaps into the overdenture. Insertion and removal are relatively simple but may take some practice. If you receive mini-implant denture from us, your dentist will show you how to take your denture out and put it back in. While you are in the office, you may perform this several times with your dentist observing. It is important that you feel confident wearing your implant-retained dentures. With our help, you can!
What Are Other Advantages Of Choosing Mini-Implants?
Initially, the benefit of mini dental implants was perceived as limited to their low cost. Over time, dentists have learned through their patients that these smaller implants are not only less expensive but also very durable. Patients appreciate the treatment procedure and its minimal-invasiveness. They appreciate a shorter recovery period.
Often mini-implants will have soft liners placed in dentures on the day they are placed to take stresses off the mini-implants while they are integrating. At Hampton Dental Associates we also place metal bases in our dentures and partials so that there is less chance of acrylic fracture around mini-implants. While this may cost a bit more, it allows the dentures to be relined or rebased for proper fitting and prevents fracture. Many people that get mini-implants can chew harder due to this improved proprioception of having an implant in the bone. This can lead to more chewing of harder foods and fracture. Dr. Winter published many articles on mini-implants and has highlighted his use of metal frames under these dentures to preserve strength. (Please insert link to article Upgradeable Dentistry Part 1 and 2 with a thumbnail of each article and check Part 3 as well.
What Else Do I Need To Know About My Visit To Discuss Mini-Implants?
While mini-implants may be a wonderful option to help stabilize loose dentures, they are not a substitute for larger implants. We often use mini-implants as a last alternative as they don’t have the versatility of traditional implants. If a patient has severe bone loss and doesn’t want to go through bone grafting or ridge expansion, mini-implants may be your best option. You may need a 3 dimensional x-ray called a CAT scan or CBCT before you can have a final treatment discussion for mini-dental implants and this low cost film will allow us to select the right sizes and placement for your treatment.
Schedule Your Mini Implant Consult Today!
If you wish to learn more about our Mini Implant service, or if you wish to determine whether you are right for the procedure, please be sure to book a one-on-one appointment with Dr. Richard and Ariel Winter! Call 414-377-5711 or fill out the appointment request form on our contact page. Our practice looks forward to serving you!
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