Mini dental implants are narrower than traditional root form implants and can fit in tighter, smaller spaces. They can be used to replace small teeth, narrow remaining spaces, front teeth and premolars.
It is the molar area where that needs to be examined carefully and approached cautiously. As you go back in the mouth, the teeth and the implants that support them have to undergo more extreme bite forces.
This is especially true for the upper molar areas, as this bone is the softest in all of the mouth.
Having no other options for fixed teeth, other than major bone grafting, makes this treatment very appealing. Additionally, mini implants are about one-half the cost of root form implants, don't require as much surgery, are safe for those medically compromised, and can generally be used to replace teeth right away.
As with all implants, there is minimal or no post-operative discomfort.
Due to their smaller size, the rule of thumb for teeth replacement is one mini implant for each root being replaced. Therefore, if molars are to be replaced, two implants would be required due to the multiple roots of molars.
For replacing several teeth in a row, the resultant mini implant bridge is just that - all the teeth are connected together as a bridge for strength.
Mini dental implants are extremely valuable for those with all the teeth missing. As every denture wearer knows, over time the bone slowly dissolves away and eventually becomes extremely thin and worn.
As this happens, full dentures that fit even a few years ago are now moving and require adhesive to hold them in place. This is particularly true for the lower arch, with the tongue space that inhibits any hold due to suction.
As with all implant placements, using a 3-D cone beam pre-treatment X-ray makes the entire procedure more accurate and faster to perform.
Any proposed implants can be placed in the software virtually. All sensitive structures, like nerves, adjacent teeth and sinuses can be avoided. Alignment and orientation can be precise.
A surgical guide can be constructed to aide in the exact placement of the implants. Without having to guess at the implant location at chairside, the procedure goes safely and confidently forward.
Whenever faced with the prospect of teeth replacement, be informed of all the options. Even mini dental implants are not the end all for everybody in every situation. Oftentimes, due to health reasons, expediency, financial concerns, minimal bone, small narrow spaces and smaller teeth, mini dental implants are preferable over traditional root form implants.
Either way, it sure is nice to have secure teeth when the need arises.
James G. Jenkins, D.M.D. is the owner of Bluffton Dental Care in Bluffton.