Earlier this week, we examined the differences between traditional implants and mini-implants. In this part, we’ll try to help you figure out whether mini-implants are the right choice for you.
Why choose mini-implants?
Conventional dentures are more affordable options to replace lost teeth, but they do not have the natural feel or strength of an implant-retained denture. Conventional dentures can become loose and slide around in a patient’s mouth, so denture patients may choose mini-implants to gain additional stability and retention. Implant dentures generally last longer and fit better when compared to other solutions such as non-implant based conventional dentures.
Mini-implants also work well for patients who do not have enough bone to stabilize traditional implants, but they will not be as successful in younger people due to the softer, more immature bone. Older people typically have denser bone are better candidates for mini-implants. They are also an attractive option for patients who cannot stand the rigors of the more extensive surgery required for full-sized implants.
What determines if mini-implants are a good choice?
Many patients choose dentures to restore their smiles, but over time, the bone in the jaw deteriorates due to lack of stimulation from tooth roots and from the extra strain of the dentures’ sitting on the gums. As the bone wears down, the dentures become loose and uncomfortable for patients. The dentures can move around when patients talk and chew and cause soreness along the gums. It is not uncommon for dentures to even fall out while patients are speaking.
Mini-implants can solve this issue by giving the dentures a fixed anchor rather than relying on the fit between the denture and the patient’s mouth. The one-piece mini-implants create a ball-and-socket joint that snap into the denture and give them extra retention since they are now anchored in the jawbone.
Because of their smaller size, mini-implants are better suited for use in the lower jaw and should be used in the upper jaw only in very specific and limited cases. Osseointegration in the upper jaw is not as predictable, and achieving successful stability there requires more bone and the use of more mini-implants.
When are traditional implants more appropriate?
While the theory behind mini-implants and traditional implants is similar, they are quite different in practice. Mini-implants are not a replacement for traditional implants. Traditional implants are placed deeper in the bone and achieve better osseointegration, which allows them to withstand more force and can serve as replacements for single teeth, bridges and fixed (screwed in) dentures.
Because mini-implants can only support removable dentures, which still need to be taken out and cleaned, they cannot provide the permanent solution like that of traditional implants. Traditional implants may be permanently attached to fixed prostheses and provide the feeling closest to that of natural teeth.
Which implants are the best for me?
When it comes to dental implants, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Traditional implants and mini-implants may be equally as effective depending on the correct diagnosis of the patient’s circumstances, such as needs, age, budget, bone density and/or health. The Fitzgerald Dental Implant Center utilizes the latest imaging technology to help assess and inform our patients. Make an appointment with Dr. Fitzgerald to discuss which types of implants will work for you.