The other day I was watching television when an advertisement came on for mini implants to aid in fitting lower and upper dentures. This advertisement (as most advertisements do) made it seem like these miniature implants cost less than regular implants and do the same job for less money. But the purpose of this post is to try and give everyone the full picture regarding “mini” implants. To start, I do not have any problem using mini implants for our patients. They are a viable treatment option in some cases. In patients with very narrow jawlines or others who simply cannot afford to do traditional implant therapy, mini implants can help those patients obtain their desired outcome. The key point that needs to be stated is the importance of full disclosure.
You see, what these TV and online advertisements don’t tell you is that mini implants are temporary. If you ask the manufacturing companies of these implants they are required during the sale to inform the dentist of the design limitations of their products. The key design limitation for mini-implants is that they never “fuse” to the jaw bone and become permanent structures. This is a result of the narrow design. Because they have significantly less surface area, the bone structure of your body cannot attach or grow into the surface grooves of the smaller implants. The other design limitation is the amount of force and function that a mini-implant can receive without failing. Therefore, in order to do the same work as a regular implant, more mini-implants need to be placed.
There are some patients out there where the mini-implants have been in the jaw for years and as I mentioned earlier the use of mini-implants is common. My biggest problem is with the patients who were never told or didn’t understand that these implants can come out or fail at a significant rate. It is not uncommon for patients with previously placed mini-implants to come to our office for replacement of mini-implants that have been lost or “came out” attached to the denture. It is important to have a full and honest discussion with the treating dental professional about the expectations for dental implant performance and your full treatment options.
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