18 Oct Mini Dental Implants Are Cheap, But Are They Right For You?
Many patients come to me asking whether they can get mini dental implants instead of traditional dental implants as mini dental implants are cheaper.
When a dental surgeon formulates a treatment plan for a patient in a dental implant case, options such as mini-implants or narrow diameter implants are sometimes offered and discussed.
Mini-implants are sometimes also offered to persuade patients to proceed with treatment at a lower fee. However, mini dental implants might not be suitable for you and should only be offered on a case-by-case basis.
To have a quick overview of whether you are suitable for mini dental implants, check out the video by Dr Gerald Tan below:
The cost of mini dental implants
Mini dental implants usually cost less than a fraction of what traditional dental implants cost. Most dental clinics in Singapore who work on mini dental implants charge upwards of $300 – $2,500 per tooth.
Why are mini dental implants cheaper?
Mini dental implants are cheaper for a number of reasons:
- Smaller than traditional implants
- Cheaper and more affordable screws
- Use less materials than traditional implants
- Procedure is usually faster, quicker and simpler than traditional implants
Traditional dental implants vs. Mini dental implants
Since they are designed for the same function, many people confuse conventional dental implants and mini dental implants. Below are some of the key differences between the two:
Conventional Dental Implants (Standard diameter implants)
A conventional dental implant typically consists of 2 or more components. . It comes with an external implant fixture screw that is surgically inserted into the jawbone. The diameter of the fixture screw is typically larger than 3.5mm. And the 2nd or third components are the attachments that allow the implant crown to be fixed to the implant fixture screw .
The design of conventional implants allows for flexibility for the use of different types of standard or customisable prosthetic components. This flexibility is crucial for the dental technician to manufacture a dental implant crown of the correct contour and shape and to allow for easy cleaning for hygiene purposes. This flexibility is also important for the ease of long term maintenance or even replacement of the implant crown, should there be a need to remove or replace the implant crown due to wear and tear and damage.
All these design benefits have long term consequences for the ease of maintenance and increases long term success rates for many patients.
Mini Dental Implants (Narrow Diameter implants)
Unlike the conventional dental implants, mini dental implants are a solid single fixture screw that’s surgically inserted into the jawbone. Mini implants have a diameter of typically less than 3 mm. On the top of the fixture screw of the mini implant, you can find a ball-shaped protrusion designed to support the dental prosthesis.
The design of mini-implant fixture screws do not allow for the prosthetic flexibility that conventional dental implants provide.
Because of its narrow diameter, they also are not designed to withstand the load of a heavy bite on the back molar teeth.
Mini dental implants are typically indicated to replace very small lower anterior teeth, to support removable dentures or as temporary orthodontic anchorage points.
Mini dental implants can also sometimes be indicated in areas where the jawbone is very thin but in such cases, it is often advantageous to consider bone grafting and ridge width or height augmentation, in order to place a stronger conventional implant instead of a mini implant.
When should mini dental implants be used?
Mini dental implants are only used in specific cases. That being said, it’s not an option to use mini dental implants just because you prefer them, and in all situations, Typically, mini dental implants are used in the following scenarios:
- In areas where there is narrow or insufficient bone
- If you need lower front teeth replacement
- If you want removable implant overdentures
- If you need orthodontic anchorage
It can be difficult for patients to differentiate and discern the appropriateness of mini-implant use, as professional opinion varies from dentist to dentist and there is also an obvious gap in knowledge between patients and professionals. This knowledge asymmetry could also be exploited by dishonest dentists with patients who are none the wiser.
Patients find the low fees very attractive, they get mini-implants done, and sometimes in a matter of months, the mini-implants fail and patients are left with maintenance headaches that could necessitate thousands of dollars of corrective and additional treatment to address.
Mini implants have their place in modern dentistry in certain limited indications , but it is imperative that the dentist knows when to recommend for their use, and when not to recommend. In order to achieve the best long-term success for the patient. The dentist needs to have the experience, training and an honest mindset to achieve this.
How do I know whether mini dental implants are suitable for me?
Mini dental implants are often used in the following situations:
- To replace very small lower anterior teeth
- As temporary orthodontic anchorage points
- To support removable overdentures
- In select situations where jaw bone is too thin and bone grafting procedures are contraindicated
The key to success for any mini-implant case starts with understanding the indications and contraindications as well as the pitfalls of wrong application. It is not a one size fits all solution.
Mini dental implants should not be used to replace back molar teeth whereby the bite forces are high. This is because mini dental implants are too narrow and not structurally strong enough to withstand the stress of the bite in these areas.
If you are looking to replace your back molar teeth, I would strongly recommend that you get conventional dental implants done instead of mini dental implants. But before deciding, please consult your trusted dental surgeon to get advice that is suitable for the uniqueness of your mouth and condition.
Finding a trusted dental implants surgeon that will be right for your needs
As dentists, we are careful about what kinds of treatments we offer our patients. This is because there are long-term consequences to what we do to the teeth of our patients.
To find a trusted dental implants surgeon that can ethically assess the suitability and needs that you have, ask these questions:
- Is there a reason why you are recommending mini dental implants?
- What are the other treatment options within my budget for me?
- What are the potential disadvantages of mini dental implants?
For many people, losing a tooth (or multiple teeth) is a big deal. It not only affects their confidence, but impacts their overall oral health and ability to chew and function. Losing a tooth can be attributed to different issues—tooth decay, accidental trauma, gum disease or simply just neglect. Regardless of what the cause is, it is reassuring to know that missing teeth can be replaced.
Over the years, dental implants have become the treatment option of choice for many people. Unfortunately, conventional dental implants are not for everyone.This is where mini dental implants might come in.
Dr Jonathan Lim is a dental surgeon at Elite Dental Group. He has more than 7 years of practice in dental implants and focuses on placing same-day dental implants for patients who have lost their teeth or damaged them.