Traditional Dental Implants vs. Mini Dental Implants
In recent years, mini dental implants have gained some notoriety as an option to help anchor dentures. Some dentists like the idea because they are less invasive and are less likely to have complications with nerves and other surrounding structures in the jaw. Patients like the idea of mini implants because they are less expensive than traditional implants. I want to explain the advantages and disadvantages of each and why we should remain cautious about extent to which mini implants are being used.
At Brown and Kupper DDS, we have been successfully using traditional dental implants for 25 years. When properly cared for, dental implants can be one of the most successful procedures in dentistry. Millions of dollars of research has shown how and why implants succeed, and the longevity of these studies helps support the validity of these findings. Because mini implants are relatively new, we do not have the benefit of these findings to support their long term efficacy. Until we know more, I believe traditional dental implants to be a safer decision in replacing teeth or supporting dentures.
But if mini implants are less expensive, is it worth the risk? While they may be of short term benefit, they are less likely to last as long as traditional implants. The mini implants don’t have enough length and width to support the normal biting forces that we typically need to function. And if you have to replace them 2 or 3 times in the span of 1 traditional dental implant, you will end up spending much more than if you did the larger implant from the start.
Right now, the only time I may recommend the use of mini implants would be in an effort to help stabilize a denture while traditional implants were healing and could not be used. This would allow for immediate use of a denture without disturbing the larger implants. Until more definitive data can support mini implants, we will continue to recommend traditional implants to support dentures and replace missing teeth.