What Are Mini-Implants?
Did you know that 69% of Americans from ages 35 to 44 have lost at least one permanent tooth? There can be many causes for losing a tooth. Teeth can be lost in accidents or sports injuries. Tooth decay can be responsible, as can periodontal disease or oral cancer. Whatever the reason for tooth loss, someone with missing teeth may be a candidate for traditional or mini dental implants. Dental implants are dental tooth replacements that can also align teeth, provide a healthy mouth and bite, and offer a great smile.
To be able to receive implants, you need to have enough available bone. Dental implants are surgically placed where the root of the lost tooth was, right in the jawbone. The bone heals around the implant, making for a solid foundation for a replacement tooth. What happens, however, if you don’t have enough bone to support a dental implant? The solution may be mini dental implants.
How Do Traditional Dental Implants Work?
The process of having a dental implant done can be a long one, requiring several stages before a replacement tooth is in place. You may need to work with both a dentist and an oral surgeon. The restorative dentistry experts at Coeur d’Alene Dental Center are likely to be able to take you through the process from start to finish.
Your dentist or oral surgeon will take x-rays and scans of your mouth to study the area where an implant may be in order. If there is not enough bone, the first step may be a bone graft. A bone graft involves taking bone from another part of the body—often another part of the jaw—and transferring it to the spot where the implant will go. This will strengthen the bone and make for a more successful implantation. It can take 3 to 9 months for a bone graft to meld with the existing bone. Only after this has happened can you continue with the dental implant procedure.
Once your jawbone is ready, the implant can be installed. Your gum will be cut to get to the bone, then a hole will be drilled into the bone to put the implant deep inside. A temporary denture will be placed over the implant while osseointegration takes place. During this period of time—usually several months—the jawbone and the implant fuse together. This creates a strong foundation for an artificial tooth. The next steps include an abutment attachment—the piece which connects the implant to the replacement tooth. There will be about a two-week healing time before impressions are made for the artificial tooth. Once the new tooth—or crown—has been created, it’s attached to the dental implant. This whole process can take up to a year to finish.
Is There Anything Faster?
You may well ask if there’s anything faster. Perhaps you don’t want to wait a year to have a replacement tooth in place. There may be several reasons a traditional dental implant won’t work for you.
- You don’t have enough bone for a traditional post
- You don’t want to wait a year for a replacement tooth
- You don’t have the time for multiple dental visits
- You don’t want/can’t have an invasive procedure
- You have a smaller mouth
So, what is a good alternative? At Coeur d’Alene Dental Center, we recommend considering mini dental implants. Mini dental implants are smaller than traditional ones. Traditional implants measure anywhere from 3.25 to 5 mm in diameter. Mini-implants measure about 3 mm. Despite their small size, mini-implants are just as effective as their traditional counterparts. The procedure to install a mini-implant is not as invasive as a traditional implant. In addition, mini-implants tend to cost less. Where a more traditional implant can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $6,000, mini-implants can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,500.
How Do Mini-Implants Work?
The procedure to install mini-implants is not as involved as the procedure for more traditional implants. Just as with the traditional implants, an impression of your mouth will need to be made to create a replacement tooth. After x-rays are taken so the mini-implant can be placed properly, a small hole may need to be drilled in the jawbone. Some mini-implants have threads on a screw that attach to the bone. In that case, there won’t need to be any drilling.
The mini-implant gets placed inside the hole and the post is secured and tightened. The replacement tooth fits directly onto the post. Once on, the dental professional will make sure the new tooth is situated correctly and won’t move around. The recovery period from this procedure is very brief. Within 1 to 2 days, you can expect to return to your normal activities, though you may need to remain on a soft food diet for a short period. Care for a mini-implant is the same as that with a traditional implant. Good oral hygiene routines are essential to make sure the implant lasts. Brushing and flossing two times a day is recommended, and it’s important to keep up with twice-yearly check-ups.
Can Anyone Get a Mini-Implant?
There are some people who aren’t good candidates for a mini-implant.
- Children/teenagers (whose mouths are not fully developed)
- bone disease
- vascular disease
- poor wound or bone healing
- poor oral hygiene/other dental issues (decay, damaged gums, etc.)
If you fall into one of these categories, have a conversation with your dental professional about your choices. You may have to consider a bridge or dentures.
Making Your Choice
By now, you can see that you have several options when it comes to filling in the space where a tooth or teeth are missing. Traditional implants, mini-implants, dentures, bridges—there’s a lot to consider! It’s important to do your research and speak to a professional who can go over each option. Trust us at Coeur d’Alene Dental Center to examine your specific needs and help you make an informed decision about how your smile makeover. Contact us today.