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Mini Dental Implants: The Best of Both Worlds

According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, around three million people in the U.S. have dental implants. Plus, around a half million people each year will receive dental implants.

Some of those three million and counting might be sporting mini dental implants instead of traditional implants. While smaller, these implants let you smile big, chew extensively, and do all you'd do with your natural teeth. And at a fraction of the cost of traditional implants.

But are mini dental implants the best solution for you? And what makes them different from traditional dental implants? Understanding the benefits of these smaller implants – and the process involved – can help you make a more educated decision on how to perfect your smile even when you've lost your natural teeth.

What's the Difference Between Traditional and Mini Dental Implants?

With either dental implant, if you still have your damaged tooth (or teeth) and its roots, you must undergo oral surgery to remove them. Designed to mimic your former tooth's roots, the implant is usually made of metal – particularly titanium. If you have a metal allergy, zirconia is an alternative material.

Traditional Dental Implant Surgery: This can be a three- or four-step procedure requiring recovery time between certain steps.

  1. Depending on your jawbone's health and density, you might need a bone graft to support the implant. A recovery period post-graft is necessary before implant implantation.
  2. Your oral surgeon will cut an incision in the gums to implant a cylindrical post into your jawbone. The post is usually about 3.5 to 6 millimeters in diameter – the size depending on what tooth the implant replaces.
  3. After the jawbone heals, an abutment is placed onto the implant's post.
  4. The abutment is the hardware allowing your dental professional to complete the procedure by screwing the tooth prosthetic (aka, a dental crown) to the implant.

Mini Dental Implant Procedure: The mini implant doesn't require a traditional implant's bone mass, eliminating a bone graft's need.

  1. Half the size of a traditional dental implant, the mini implant is inserted through the gums. No incisions are needed. No recovery time is needed.
  2. The screw is part of the implant, so there's no need for an abutment. And your tooth prosthetic fits directly on the implant.

Both implants can also serve to stabilize dentures by affixing them to implants rather than using an adhesive.

What are the Benefits of Mini Dental Implants?

Mini dental implants might be the perfect solution if your budget or jawbone doesn't allow for traditional dental implants.

Lower-Cost Alternative: Since mini dental implants involve less hardware and less time, they can cost one-quarter to half as much as traditional implants. What's more, if you currently wear dentures, you might be able to retrofit your dentures for the mini implants to further save on costs.

Minimally Invasive: Mini dental implants' smaller size means placing them requires a less invasive procedure than traditional implants. That'll save you time spent in a dental professional's chair.

Plus, as we previously noted, no jawbone grafts are required.

Reduced Recovery Time: Because of their smaller size, no surgery is needed, and your bone should take less time to bond to the implant.

Researchers are still studying the long-term advantages of mini dental implants vs. traditional implants. But knowing about the procedure and its benefits, you can open a discussion with your dental professionals to see if mini dental implants might be a solution that's right for you.

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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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