by Dr Jeremy Cheung, Dundas Dental, NSW
Not all patients are willing or able to replace their teeth with conventional implants. The surgery involved and financial costs are barriers for many. An alternative for some cases are mini dental implants that are smaller, simpler and cheaper to place. I have been using them for the past five years.
What’s good about it
Initially I used them to stabilise full lower dentures but now I also use them to replace lower incisors, upper lateral incisors and premolars. I use them mainly where the patient has the majority of their own dentition and the occlusal load is light.
When used in the right clinical situation, patients appreciate that they can be fitted in a single visit for less than half the cost of a conventional implant. There is hardly any post-operative pain as there’s no surgery involved. They can be restored with direct or indirect restorations and there is a whole range of compatible prostheses available for indirect restorations. A few companies now make a mini-implant range.
They can still fail like any other implant so the usual implant precautions need to be taken. Placing mini-implants gives new dentists an easy introduction into the world of socket care, bone grafting, implant placement and restoration.
The main advantages of mini implants is that they are cheaper, faster and simpler than conventional implants.
What’s not good
The head of the mini-implant is a small O-ball. I’m sure there’s a reason for this design, but it makes for a weak point where the final crown attaches. I often place a composite crown directly onto the implant but occasionally it can fracture in this area. Using a ready-made metal abutment solves this problem but it’s an additional cost for the patient. If the O-ball was larger, it would definitely help.