Mini Implants

Mini Implants
Though often touted in commercials and the web as a ‘significant advancement in the field of Implant Dentistry’, small diameter one-piece dental implants, better known as mini dental implants, have been around for nearly two decades. They were originally developed as transitional (temporary) implants used to stabilize temporary bridges and dentures. Since these implants often fail to integrate with the bone, they would usually be kept only for a few months and then removed.Over the years a number of clinicians and companies began to market mini-implants for definitive support to dentures, bridges, and crowns. Companies manufacturing these mini-implants, often with no research and development and poor quality control, market their products to non-implant specialists as an ‘easy’ implant, one that doesn’t require as much training or skill to place. Of greater concern is a current trend by some (unscrupulous) clinicians to use mini-implants instead of the stronger, more predictable conventional implants, without notifying their patients.

The discerning dental patient should approach mini-implants with caution. Though there are real indications for the use of mini-implants (see below), it is our opinion, and the opinion of every leading organization in the field of implantology, that mini-implants should not be routinely considered as a first treatment alternative. Even with recent advances in mini-implant surfaces that promote better integration to bone, there are only a handful of poorly controlled studies, and not a single long-term study, that examines the success rate or predictability of mini-implants. This should be compared with the nearly forty years of extensive data, and tens of thousands of studies, which have proven the long-term success of conventional dental implants. Having said this, and as long as the patient and clinician understand and discuss the limitations of mini-implants, there are a limited number of scenarios where mini-implants should be considered. These include:

  • Cases of a severely atrophic (resorbed) mandible, where bone grafting is not indicated, and implants are needed to aid in retention of a lower denture
  • Cases where significant medical issues preclude surgical access for the placement of conventional implants
  • Cases where there isn’t sufficient space to place a conventional dental implant and orthodontic opening of the space is not possible/indicated

The doctors at the Florida Institute for Periodontics and Dental Implants are fully trained in the placement of mini-implants and available to discuss this as an option in the appropriate cases. Please feel free to contact us with questions regarding mini-implants.