Mini dental implants are two to three times smaller than regular dental implants. They replace traditional implants when there is less space. Dental implants replace your missing natural teeth and they are part of both fixed and removable prosthesis.
Mini implants form the support for complete dentures or overdentures. Partial removable and fixed prosthesis also have mini implant support. They can help secure loose teeth in your mouth.
The design of a mini implant is more like a pin than a screw. But irrespective of its tiny size, it has a wide range of uses in prosthetic dentistry.
So, let’s see in details about a mini dental implant, its uses and placement procedure. You will also get to know the difference between a mini and a traditional implant.
What are Mini Dental Implants?
Mini implants are tiny pin-like implants which replace traditional implants when there is less space. Mini implants follow ‘minimum invasive’ treatment. Only a small part of the bone is drilled to place mini implants.
On the other hand, traditional implants bore a massive hole in the already existing tooth socket. Traditional implants also cause bone loss even after placement.
Whereas, mini implants cause no loss of bone structure since they are just a few millimeters in length.
The mini implant is about two to three times smaller than the normal-sized implant. Mini implants may also be a temporary measure. In cases of, a replacement for small teeth or incisors or to stabilize the lower denture, mini implants play a vital role.
Due to the short length of a mini implant, it does not fuse effortlessly with the jaw bone. Although mini implants are small, they can last for a long time.
Design of a mini implant
A mini implant comprises of a thin titanium rod with a holding fixture which fits into the base of a denture. Its head is like a ball, and the retaining attachment contains a rubber ring that acts like a socket. This ring is called an ‘O-ring.’
Contrary to a traditional implant, mini implants are not screws. They are tiny pins with lesser threads on them compared to a screw. When forming the base of an overdenture, up to six mini implants can come into use.
Uses of Mini Dental Implants
Mini implants may be a temporary fix. But when it comes to supporting fixed prosthesis like over dentures or bridges, mini implants should be your treatment of choice. The following are some uses of mini implants –
Overdenture is nothing but regular denture with implants in the base. When there is very less bone support for the denture, a regular denture becomes unstable. Bone loss usually happens in elderly patients.
In this case, your dentist might suggest the use of mini implants to support your denture. He/she might place up to six mini implants on each of the jaws.
Corresponding to the mini implants, your dentist will make space for implant heads in the base of your denture.
With the help of tight rubber rings, your dentist then places the overdenture in your mouth. The mini implants maintain good stability and support for your denture.
Same as in the case of complete or overdentures, mini implants aid in partial dentures as well. Partial dentures are smaller than complete dentures and replace lesser teeth.
In this case, your dentist might place up to 3 mini implants in the area of missing teeth in your jaw. After this, your dentist will make space for the mini implant heads in the partial denture base.
Thus, with the support of mini implants, your partial denture becomes stable. These partial dentures replace the missing front teeth.
Secure loose lower teeth
Sometimes, due to periodontal problems, teeth become loose in their sockets. In such cases, mini implants and wires help secure these teeth.
This process is called splinting if teeth. It is a temporary procedure and requires a minimum bone invasion. Mini implants are the best aid for this procedure being least invasive. (1)
Difference between Traditional and Mini Implants
There are some noteworthy differences between a traditional implant and a mini implant. They are –
Mini implants are smaller than conventional implants. The size difference is up to four folds depending upon the usage.
Mini implants act as a support to complete and partial dentures. Whereas, traditional implants replace an individual single tooth. Conventional implants are also a part of jaw fracture treatment where they fix plates over fracture lines.
Mini implants are pins which have the design with lesser threads and turns. Traditional implants are screws with multiple turns and threads and a screw head at the top.
Mini implants are far less expensive to place as compared to traditional implants.
Procedure for the placement of Mini Dental Implants
You can expect the following process during a mini implant placement –
It is a painless procedure and carried out under mild dental anesthesia.
- The standard insertion procedure is for four mini dental implants. Your dentist will place these implants in your front teeth region of the lower jaw.
- The implants are approximately the size of wooden toothpicks. Your dentist places them about five millimeters apart in your lower jaw.
- Your dentist will then carefully adjust your denture and allow it to snap onto the four mini dental implants. (2)
You can expect this same procedure when going in for splinting or partial dentures.
- The treatment is over in 2-3 visits at the most.
- It takes one week to 3 months for the implant area to heal.
How to take care of your Mini Dental Implant?
Having pins in your mouth can be scary. Surprisingly, it is rather easy to take care of mini implants. You only need to maintain good oral hygiene and clean your prosthesis every day. (3)
- Brush twice daily and incorporate an excellent anti-microbial mouthwash in your routine.
- If you have a removable denture, clean the denture every day.
- After removing the dentures, brush around the implants gently.
- If you have fixed partial denture, visit your dentist once a month to get a professional cleaning.
Mini dental implants are an alternative treatment to traditional implants. They require less drilling, less money, and fewer efforts. Hence, mini implants are gaining popularity in advanced dental prosthetics.
They also prevent bone loss, unlike the traditional implants. Although mini implants are smaller than conventional implants, they are more efficient. The procedure is easy and painless.
Mini implants are a gift to the elderly patients. Loose and ill-fitting dentures are a thing of the past ever since mini implants support overdentures. If your dentist suggests mini implants, you can go for it without a doubt.