Mini dental implants: The miniature alternative for a better smile

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Sometimes the original size of a thing such as a regular implant is too big, so another option for people is the mini dental implant (MDI) also called narrow diameter implant. Yes, as you have thought, mini dental implants are smaller than traditional implants and less invasive. Mini dental implants, unlike conventional dental implants, have 2 parts instead of 3. There is no abutment in mini dental implants just the crown and titanium post.

Mini implants unlike their name are a big part of implant dentistry and have been a great solution to a lot of dental issues. In this article, we are answering all your questions regarding mini dental implants such as “What is the difference between mini dental implants and regular implants?” So, if you want to know more about MDIs, stay with us, and let’s get into the details.

What are mini dental implants? 

Mini dental implants or MDIs are narrower and smaller implants that are made out of titanium, the same material as full-sized implants. Mini implants can be as thin as a toothpick with a diameter of 1.8 mm to 3 mm. The application takes only one dentist visit, and it is a less invasive procedure. MDIs are usually used to support removable dentures and keep them in place.

How do mini dental implants work?

Mini dental implants work similarly to how dental implants do, but there is no surgery involved. Instead, your dentist drills a small hole in your gum where the mini implant should be placed. The titanium post is as thin as a toothpick so it does not require a big hole. Your dentist will place the titanium post with a bit of pressure into your gum. Then the top part will be set. As simple as that.

The mini dental implant procedure

Before getting into the mini implant placement procedure, your dentist will do an X-ray to check your jawbone density. The bone density in your jaw plays a big role in the success rate of your implant.

The next steps would go as follows. Your dentist will:

  1. Use a local anesthetic to numb your jaw
  2. Drill small holes in your jaw the same size as the MDI
  3. Place the titanium posts in the holes
  4. Tighten the implant posts in your jaw
  5. Replace the missing teeth on the posts and make sure they are secured

Any dentist more or less would take the same steps, but still depending on your dental health and specific needs, the steps could be different.

How long do they last?

If you are under the impression that these mini dental implants will not last long better think again. Mini dental implants can last you 6 up to 9 years given you follow the mini dental implants aftercare instructions completely.

What are the success rates of mini implants?

Mini implants might not seem like a lot, but given their small size are quite sturdy and can last you a good while. They are impressively successful and have a success rate of almost 90%. There are a few things that can determine the success rate of mini dental implants.

Skilled dentist

The other contributing factors can only be effective if you have done your research and found a dentist that is skilled enough and has a lot of experience in dental surgery. Your dentist’s skills will let them understand the importance of the evaluation of bone density in the success of the whole mini implant application. The same goes for your periodontal health. So, before deciding on any type of implant treatment make sure to find a good dentist.

Jawbone density

The site where your dentist chooses to apply the dental mini implants plays a crucial part in the outcome of your dental procedure. Usually, dental mini implants do not require a lot of bone mass, which is why they are preferred to traditional implants in patients whose bone quality can not withstand regular implants and the bone healing might take too long. But still, there should be a level of bone integrity for the mini dental implant process to work and take place.

Periodontal disease

After the jawbone mass, your gum health is next in line for your mini implants to successfully stay in place. Any type of gum disease or gum recession can lower the success rate of your implant procedure and even lead to bone loss after the entire procedure.

All of these factors combined together will help you have a faster healing time and for sure a better one as well. This will also ensure a desirable healthy smile outcome and great oral health in the years to come.

Pros and cons of mini dental implants

Now that you are pretty much familiar with the mini dental implant, let’s crack it open and see what its advantages and disadvantages are.

Pros MDI Cons MDI
Less jawbone density Less support
Inexpensive solution for lost teeth Shorter durability
Less invasive oral surgery Higher rate of complications
Desirable aesthetic outcome Cost of fixing

Pros of mini dental implants

Understanding the benefits of the implants you will receive can greatly boost your confidence. Without further ado, let’s start with the good points of mini dental implants!

Less jawbone density

Going for a mini dental implant you do not need a high jawbone mass intensity. But in the case of conventional implants if there is a lack of density in the jawbone you will need a bone graft which brings us to the next benefit of a mini implant and that compared to normal implants, it is a less invasive option. You will have a shorter healing time with minimal pain.

Inexpensive solution for lost teeth

We know how expensive dental work can be and conventional implants are no exception. But when it comes to replacement teeth a mini implant could be the answer. The average cost of mini dental implants is almost a third of the standard implants.

Less invasive oral surgery

That’s right! Dental mini implants do not need a big surgical procedure. The titanium rods are small enough that your dentist would simply drill small holes in your gum, and insert them in your jawbone with no to minimal pain. All in all, getting dental mini implants is considered a painless procedure.

Desirable aesthetic outcome

When we are talking about standard implants aesthetics are as important as function. Of course, a mini implant functions the same way as a natural tooth does, but also regarding aesthetics an MDI looks even better. These narrow-diameter implants allow a seamless blend with the neighboring teeth making them an excellent option for replacing missing teeth.

Cons of mini dental implants

While mini implants have their pros, it’s important to also consider their cons so that you can make a more informed decision. Now let’s move on to the negative points of getting a mini implant.

Less support

Even though dental mini implants are sturdy little things due to their small diameter compared to standard implants, they can not really support bigger dental appliances. This makes them be not suitable for most dental procedures.

Shorter durability

Another important aspect of standard implants is their durability and when you compare the durability of dental mini implants it might be a downside to them. Normal implants can last anywhere from 10 to 30 years making them a great investment in your oral dental care. Comparing this to dental mini implants that last about 6 to 9 years. So dental implants vs mini implants most probably have one winner.

Higher rate of complications

Here is another comparison of mini implants vs dental implants. When compared, usually mini ones have a lower success rate and you might find yourself with more complications along the way. Other contributors to the complications could be the surgeon’s technique also how well you take care of your mini implant during the healing process.

Cost of fixing

Speaking of complications of mini implants can bring up the cost as well. Although the average cost of mini dental implants is less than normal implants fixing those problems can cost you more money eventually.

Remember!
Always make sure to talk with your dentist and take their professional recommendations under consideration as well.

Mini dental implants vs traditional implants

Dental implants vs mini implants. We like a good comparison and there are a few things that are different between these two dental appliances. But before getting to them let’s talk about their similarities.

Both mini implants and normal dental implants are used in a variety of prosthodontic treatments. And what makes them a good choice for prosthodontic treatment is the material that they are made of which is titanium. Titanium is a sturdy material that does not cause an allergic reaction in the body and can easily be used in implants. Now, it is time for the showdown mini implants vs regular implants.

Size

The most significant difference between mini implants and normal ones is the size. Mini implants might even be referred to as toothpick implants since their diameter is as narrow as a toothpick which is almost 3mm. Whereas normal implant diameter can be 3.5mm to 6mm.

Shape

Talking about size the shapes are vastly different as well. Traditional implants have two main parts the abutment and the post. The abutment is the part that connects the artificial teeth to the post. In the case of a mini implant, there is only a one-piece screw that the screw part goes into the jawbone acting like the tooth root and there is a ball-shaped part that sticks out of the gum.

Placement 

When it comes to placement it only takes one visit for your dentist to place a mini dental implant. This also does not include painful surgery. But with a regular implant, you definitely need two visits to the dentist’s office and it will be an invasive surgery. And this brings us to the next difference.

Healing time

Mini dental implants vs regular implants’ healing times are significantly different. Due to the fact that mini implants are less invasive and you won’t need any sutures you will have a quicker healing time. Making it more convenient compared to a regular implant’s lengthy healing time.

Cost

Mini implants cost less since less material is used in making them. The application process is also shorter so making it less expensive to get dental mini implants compared to normal implants. But as we have mentioned dental mini implants might end up causing you to spend more money since they are more susceptible to complications.

Ideal candidate

It is not a pick-or-choose situation getting prosthodontic treatment and your dentist will determine what kind of restorative solution is best for you. So to be a perfect implant candidate for a regular dental implant your jaw bone health needs to be excellent. If not you will require bone grafting which can be costly and painful. In this case, the dental mini implant could be a good prosthodontic treatment for you.

Which one is right for you?

The restorative solution that best works for you between these two options depend heavily on the status of your jaw bone health. With enough bone thickness, your jaw will most probably be able to support traditional dental implants and you will end up with a better result.

Cost and Insurance

We have already covered the cost and we know that mini dental implants cost way less than conventional implants but how about insurance? Are mini dental implants covered by insurance? The answer is unfortunately no. Since this type of dental restoration is considered a cosmetic procedure most dental insurance plans might not cover this so it is best to check with your oral dental care insurance provider.

How much is a full set of mini dental implants?

A mini dental implant can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,500. 

But as we have mentioned in the cons of MDIs there is limited support. What we mean by that is you can not get a full mouth of mini dental implants to replace your missing or damaged teeth. This is due to their shape and the fact that they are narrow. The best cases to use them are either for a single tooth such as premolars and incisors or to fix partial dentures.

For long-term denture stabilization, you can get a set of 4 to 6 dental mini implants. This can cost you $2,000 to $5,000. But if you get the same procedure with regular implants it can cost you $12,000 to $30,000.

Maintaining Mini Dental Implants

Generally speaking, maintaining good oral hygiene is the best way to take care of your mini implants. With proper care you most probably won’t face the complications and your mini implants will last you a long time. Don’t worry! Here we will give you some helpful tips to take care of your mini implants.

Brush and floss…Always!

Brushing your teeth and flossing daily will ensure the health of your gums. Healthy gums can help support your mini implants way better and you will find yourself with fewer complications happening from gum recession. It is best to use a soft-bristled toothbrush so that you wouldn’t hurt your gums.

Clean your dentures

As part of your daily dental hygiene if you have mini dental implants with dentures you should remove the dentures and clean them thoroughly. If your dentures are not cleaned properly the bacteria accumulation can lead to gum recession and end up damaging your teeth. You can use warm water and a toothbrush to clean them.

Nothing hard or chewy

You should be very aware of what you are eating when you get mini implants. Eventhough these implants are durable but hard foods such as candy or chewy and sticky ones can cause damage or even break your MDIs making you redo or even get them replaced.

Control your oral habits

Nail biting, teeth grinding, and chewing on pens or pencils and such are strictly forbidden. All of these can cause harm to your MDIs. Of course, teeth grinding is not really a voluntary act, but the best way to deal with it is to use a bite guard. You can ask your dentist for one.

No alcohol or smoking

Both drinking alcohol and smoking can cause oral problems such as tooth decay and gum recession. These problems will raise the risk of your MDIs failing and needing you to get them replaced.

If you are looking to get your mini implants or any other dental procedures done, don’t hesitate to contact us! At Dentfix we deliver beautiful smiles!

Resources:

Consolaro A, Romano FL. Reasons for mini-implants failure: choosing installation site should be valued! Dental Press J Orthod. 2014 Mar-Apr;19(2):18-24. doi: 10.1590/2176-9451.19.2.018-024.oin. PMID: 24945511; PMCID: PMC4296612.

Upendran A, Gupta N, Salisbury HG. Dental Mini-Implants. [Updated 2022 Aug 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513266/

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