Mini dental implants are prosthetic teeth that are smaller but similar to full-sized implants and were first designed to be used as temporary devices. It was later discovered that mini dental implants are a workable permanent alternative to regularly sized dental implants in many cases. These prosthetics are usually about half the size in diameter of full-sized implants and can vary in height. Mini implants are drilled into the gum line, usually using titanium screws; however, they don't go as deep as a full-sized implant.
For patients who have experienced bone loss, mini dental implants can be an easier alternative. Typically, these patients require bone grafts before full-sized dental implants are placed, but with mini dental implants, there is no need because the smaller implants do not fuse to the bone. This is due to their shorter height, and so bone grafts become unnecessary for proper implementation. These types of implants are typically used as a solution to replace smaller missing front teeth or incisors.
Many dentists use the mini dental implants as a retainer bracket for dentures so they do not become loose. On older patients, who are not good candidates for full-size implants due to bone loss or health issues, mini dental implants can keep dentures from moving around. Bone loss can cause dentures to become loose fitting. The mini implants allow the dentures to fit into place without movement by securing them into a bracket that is installed on the top of the mini implant.
When placing mini dental implants in a patient, there are generally no stitches required afterward. The small incision that is used to implant the miniature titanium rod is only about one millimeter across in most cases. The hole is drilled to allow the implant to naturally adhere itself to the gum. The procedure is most often completed under local anesthetic with minimal healing time necessary. In many cases, this can be an hour-long procedure in a general dentist's office.
These small dental implants are also approved by the Federal Drug Administration in the United States to be used under a crown or bridge in select cases. A dentist would need to evaluate to determine if this is a viable option and if the patient would be considered a good candidate. This option can be used to replace larger-sized teeth, such as molars, as well.