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Dental Mini-Implants: Small, But Mighty

diabetics_3 South Bend, IN | Tulip Tree Dental Care

Are you missing one or more teeth? Have you been told that you’re not a candidate for dental implants? If the reason is that your bone isn’t thick enough or strong enough to accept a single traditional implant, dental mini-implants might be the answer.

Traditional Dental Implants

Traditional dental implants basically replace the root of the missing tooth and allow a dental restoration (a crown, a dental bridge, or even a full-arch denture) to be “loaded” onto the implant or implants.

The implant itself is an extremely strong but very small screw, usually made of a titanium metal, that is inserted through the gum and into the jaw. The bone is carefully bored out to accept the implant. In most cases, a period of time must pass to allow the bone to fuse to the implant and for the flap of gum tissue that’s opened to heal. Once that fusion has taken place, the dental restoration is firmly attached.

Dental implants have a number of advantages. When a tooth is lost, the underlying bone begins to slowly deteriorate. That bone loss may well be the reason that traditional implants aren’t right for you. Ongoing bone loss can change the shape of your face and make you look prematurely old.

Implants reverse that process. The implant and the pressure of chewing stimulate the bone and cause it to strengthen.

Dental implants are the strongest and most durable dental restorations. Implants also restore almost 100 percent of your chewing power. For most people, that’s a very desirable benefit. But chewing exerts a tremendous amount of pressure on your teeth and on an implant restoration. The restoration transmits that pressure to the implant itself (the metal screw) and to the underlying bone.

That’s why the bone has to be strong, to handle pressure of chewing. All that pressure is coming down on a single screw and if the surrounding bone isn’t strong enough, the implant can fail.

People without enough thickness of bone can sometimes receive bone grafts to increase the thickness. Bone grafting adds considerable time and expense to the implant process.

But what if the implant itself could be much thinner but still very strong? That would leave more bone surrounding the implant.

Mini-Implants

That’s basically the idea behind mini-implants. These even thinner, but extremely strong screws require less bone thickness than standard dental implants and typically function just as well. This is true for single-implant restorations and for implant-anchored or implant-secured dentures. In the case of dentures, the dentist might insert half a dozen mini-implants (instead of the traditional two to four) to spread the pressure of chewing. The dentures are just as secure as with traditional implants.

The implant procedure is simpler and faster than for traditional dental implants. Instead of removing bone and inserting a traditional implant, mini-implants are designed to be stable when inserted. Since the insertion is through a very small hole in the gum, mini-implants typically require a much shorter healing period. In many cases, the implant(s) can be loaded immediately and the person can be eating within a few hours.

Because there’s less trauma to the gum and the underlying bone, pain after the procedure is usually handled by over-the-counter pain medications. Typically, any soreness is gone within 48 hours.

Just as with traditional implants, mini-implants stimulate the underlying bone and help preserve the shape of your face.

Are Mini-Implants Right for You?

If you prefer to avoid the extra time and expense of bone grafting to allow you to receive traditional implants, dental mini-implants may be what you’re looking for. The cost of mini-implants is usually significantly lower than traditional implants because there’s far less “chair time” involved. And the reduced healing time is a major benefit of mini-implants.

There’s only one way to be sure if you’re a candidate for mini-implants. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Hurcomb by calling our office at 574-208-5668. You can also use our online scheduling application which will collect all the information necessary to provide you with dental care. It also allows you to choose the date and time for your appointment that works well with your schedule. Or, you can use our online form to send us a message if you have questions or concerns.

You may not have to live with the inconvenience and discomfort of missing teeth. Dr. Hurcomb and all our staff are committed to helping each of our patients to realize their healthiest mouth and most beautiful smiles. Contact Tulip Tree Dental Care today.

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