Difference between Dental Implants and Mini-Dental Implants

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There are a number of similarities that both full sized and mini-dental implants share, and these include the materials out of which they are made and the principle upon which they perform their shared task: the stabilisation of artificial teeth. However there are differences between these two which change how they work and who can make use of them, and many of these stem from the core difference between full sized and mini-dental implants, their size.

A full sized dental implant will normally range from 4 to 5mm in diameter, and will, because of its size, require a certain amount and quality of jawbone for it to be effectively and safely applied. A dental implant will fuse with this bone over time, and in doing so forms a reliable and lasting structure to which a set of dentures, crowns, or bridges can be fitted.

Conversely mini-implants require a much smaller amount of bone, although again it relies on a fusion with bone for structural stability and longevity. This difference between the two technologies means that while implants are restricted to members of the population with healthy and robust jawbones, mini-implants can be offered to people who have suffered some degree of bone loss. Considering that the larger portion of people who make use of implants are elderly or in some way vulnerable to bone resorption this is a benefit.

The smaller size of a mini-implant also means that the surgical process by which it is inserted into the jawbone is much less invasive than the method used to insert a full sized implant. The latter requires a complex procedure that involves first cutting into the gums to access the jawbone, which is then drilled to make a socket for the implant. The first step is not needed for the application of mini-implants, on account of their smaller size, mini-implants can actually be applied through a drilled opening directly through to the jawbone. This makes the procedure accessible to people with medical conditions that leave them vulnerable during the more invasive surgery used to apply full sized dental implants, and also reduces the costs associated with the implant procedure by as much as half.

A less invasive procedure also causes less damage to the gum and bone tissue, reducing the time it takes for the mouth to recover and dramatically reducing the risk of injury. The reduced risk of infection and so on also improves the chances of the implant procedure being successful. As with all surgical procedures there is a risk of failure, and this can be reduced by using mini-implants and their less invasive surgery.

Some mini-dental implant designs can be mounted with a temporary prosthetic as soon as the surgery has been completed. Most full sized implants won’t allow for this, and require a protracted healing period to ensure that the gums and bone affected by the surgery recover.

Mini-dental implants are different to dental implants in other, less favourable respects as well. Because of their smaller size, mini-dental implants can only offer their supportive and stabilising effect when a set are installed to support a number of artificial teeth as in dentures. On their own, each mini-dental implant isn’t secure enough to support a prosthetic, which is why this form of implant is not suited to supporting single tooth replacements.

Mini-implants are also thought to be less effective when applied to the top jaw, also known as the maxilla. This is an area which remains unclear, as many sources state that mini-implants are perfectly fine on either jaw, while others state that they are not suited to use in the top jaw. To clarify this issue the best thing to do is talk to your dentist about your particular needs, and ask for their personal opinion and experience. If a dentist finds that using mini-implants on the upper jaw has been successful then that is likely to be the case.

Because of their widespread usage in the dental world, implants and mini-implants can often become confused, but while the two techniques are similar in terms of the principals which drive treatments and what they aim to achieve, there are nuances to their application which make them different in a number of respects. Ultimately when it comes to choosing which option is the right for you, your dentist will be the ultimate authority. He or she will be familiar with your oral health, needs, and the subtle differences between various treatment options.

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