Mini Dental Implants (MDI) – Advantages, Disadvantages & Procedure
What are mini dental implants (MDI)?
Mini dental implants work essentially the same way as regular implants, although, smaller in diameter. In comparison, mini implants cannot withstand as much force as conventional implants, therefore their application is quite different.
Mini implants can be used in areas where the bone structure is not sufficient to accommodate a regular size implant. A major advantage associated with a MDI, is the installation process is usually simple. It’s not necessary to open up the gum or insert sutures, and the healing process is typically much faster than with conventional implants.
Mini dental implants are commonly used for retaining dentures or for a single tooth replacement. The use of two mini implants instead of one regular sized implant is also commonly applied. They’re designed as a one piece unit with an effective o-ring retention system with an attachment at the end. This unique functional design combination assures comfort and insures confidence with patients.
Mini implants have a standard diameter of less than 3 mm. They should not be used to replace conventional implants over 3 mm in diameter just to save costs, and or to simplify a treatment plan. Conventional implants should be used when growing bone or designing a specific prosthetic is required, rather than opting for a more economically priced mini implant.
Who is suitable for mini dental implants (MDI)?
The use of mini dental implants are usually chosen by patients who prefer not using conventional implants, due to medical, anatomical or financial concerns. The list of reasons includes the fear of complex surgery and long recovery times, and when bone quality is inadequate.
Although, the use of mini dental implants is valid, each case must be screened and evaluated carefully. One advantage is immediate loading, which means your crown or denture can be attached directly to your MDI after its been secured in place. If you were 80 years old, medically compromised and really needed to improve your quality of life, perhaps you’d be considered a good candidate for this procedure.
If you are 40 and are considering a long term solution to your dental concerns, it’s highly recommended that you research and consider your implant options with diligence. A quick fix solution may prove to be a serious miscalculation, which could result in a negative or less than desirable end result.
In areas where there is insufficient space (less then 6 mm), you will not be a good candidate for a conventional implant. When using a a mini implant the final position of your tooth must be planned carefully. A good example would be when a MDI is selected for the replacement of the upper lateral incisors, or any single front lower incisor.
Another use of mini dental implants is to support a temporary set of teeth while your bone graft is healing. Often when your unique bone quality requires a large bone grafting procedure, there is minimal to no possibility that you’ll be able to support a denture. Furthermore, to much force on your new graft can lead to it’s shrinking, causing other complications. Mini implants can be placed away from the actual bone graft site, which will provide less pressure overall on the graft itself. This technique will make it possible for you to have a more secure temporary set of teeth while your bone graft heals.
We don’t use mini implants often, however, in all cases whether a MDI or conventional implant is being considered, careful planning is essential to the selection process.
Have you ever considered traveling overseas to a highly desirable, exotic, destination to attend to your dental restoration needs? Perhaps a multi purpose trip (dental treatment – relaxing holiday excursion = dental tourism), would be appropriate and timely. You might consider this possibility, as the cost of 4 mini implants in your country, might equate to the same as 2 conventional implants in Vietnam. To make the whole idea even more appealing, Vietnam is one of the most tourist friendly and economical travel destinations in the world. The country and lovely inhabitants welcome over 10,000,000 tourists annually.
Advantages of mini dental implants:
- Complex surgery is not required
- Shorter procedural and faster healing times
- Can be used in thin jawbone areas with no need for bone grafting
- Cost efficient
- Less discomfort, more convenience
- Can be used as a temporary implant while your bone graft is healing
Disadvantages of mini dental implants:
- Strength of the implant (could fracture under heavy load)
- Use may be limited up to the time of your final restoration
- Premature overloading may lead to the loosening of a mini implant
- Bone width may be an issue when considering MDI’s. However, bone growth can be accomplished and pain consideration is not a major factor in the decision to forego the use conventional implants
- Long term research supports the use of conventional implants for dentures and a full arch prosthetic, as its far superior to a multiple, mini implant supported prosthesis
- Don’t short change yourself, as research proves the success rates of conventional implants is higher than with MDI’s
Mini Dental Implant Procedure
Procedural time for mini implants is much faster compared to conventional implant surgery. Due to the smaller size, it is easier to place them into your jawbone without causing any discomfort. The procedure itself from start to finish takes about one hour.
Just like a conventional implant, local anesthesia is used, and small holes are drilled in the jawbone where a MDI will be placed. Since the holes will be very small, sometimes there is no need to open up the gums at the insertion points, thus significantly reducing your downtime.
Afterwards, your implant will be safely, placed into position by a tiny dental wrench. In the majority of cases, your denture or crown should be immediately secured. However, we caution you to be mindful about eating hard or tough foods for a minimum of 2 months.