We place every type of implant at The Dental Implant Place. These implants come in a variety of different diameters and sizes, and they include mini dental implants.
This page will expand on the traits and advantages of mini implants so that you can be further educated while shopping for implant treatment.
What Are Mini Dental Implants?
While technically invented in the 1800s, dental implants have been widely used in dentistry since the 1970s.
Mini dental implants were approved by the FDA in 1999. Since then, they have been used increasingly in implant dentistry as a less-invasive alternative to conventional implants.
Mini implants have the following key traits:
- Less than 3mm in diameter (usually 1.88-2.9mm)
- 1 solid piece
- AKA “small diameter implants” or “SDIs”
Conventional implants are usually 3.25-6mm in diameter, though they can be as wide as 9mm. They are also made from 2-3 pieces, rather than 1 solid piece. As you will see, these details have important implications for the cost and quality of your dental implant procedure.
What is the Success Rate of Mini Dental Implants?
Since their FDA approval in 1999, mini implants have proven to be just as reliable as conventional implants. In 22 studies between 1993 and 2011, mini dental implants reported a survival rate of 95-99.9%.
In fact, some studies have shown that small diameter implants can reduce the risk of peri-implantitis, because they present less opportunity for invasive bacteria to enter into the bone and cause infection.
Dr. Gordon Christensen, a certified prosthodontist and perhaps the most well-known research dentist in the world, strongly advocates for mini dental implants. In a clinical report published in September 2009, he stated:
“Millions of people globally have need of retention and support for removable prostheses, crowns, or fixed prostheses. However, many of them do not have adequate bone quantity in which to place root form implants 3mm or over in diameter, and, for financial or health reasons, they cannot have bone grafting. Small diameter “mini” dental implants serve these patients.”
Mini Implants Can Be Stronger Than Conventional Implants
It seems improbable that a relatively small implant with a narrow diameter could actually be stronger than one that’s larger and thicker. However, the strength of the mini dental implant lies in its single-piece engineering.
Conventional implants are usually advertised as having 2 pieces: the post itself and the abutment that fits on top in order to secure a prosthesis like a crown or a bridge. However, most conventional implants actually have 3 pieces. The post itself is usually hollow and contains an interior screw inside that holds the abutment and the post together.
This extra piece is rarely talked about, but it’s important to note. The interior screw can come loose, strip, or break. In any of these events, the implant is rendered worthless.
In other words, conventional “2 piece” implants are hollow and have moving parts, including a third piece inside. These moving parts can have micro motion, causing the implant to break and fail.
In contrast, mini dental implants are one solid piece. There is no hollow interior, and no potential for micro motion. With this engineering, it’s not hard to understand how a solid 3mm implant could be stronger than a 4mm implant that’s hollow and contains moving parts.
How Long Will Mini Implants Last?
Mini implants can last just as long as conventional implants, which average between 15-20 years. Studies comparing their success rates have found no difference between minis and larger implants over long periods of time.
Avoid Expensive Reconstructive Surgery
Many patients do not have enough bone density in their jaw to support dental implants with a wider diameter than 3mm. Without mini dental implants, these patients will need reconstructive surgery in order to receive dental implants successfully. These surgeries can be very expensive.
For instance, a simple bone graft (using synthetic bone) can cost between $200-$1200 per implant area. Bone grafts that use human bone tissue are even more expensive. These can range from $2000-$3000 per implant site. In other words, bone grafting expenses alone can double the cost of dental implants.
With mini implants, these costs are often completely avoided. We have treated many patients in our office who were told elsewhere that they didn’t qualify for dental implants. Not only were we able to give these patients implants, but in many cases we were able to do so with no additional surgeries whatsoever!
Easy and Safe to Remove
Every plan should have an exit strategy. While mini dental implants (and implants in general) have a very high success rate, they can still fail. For this reason, implants and implant treatments should be evaluated based the ease of removal in the event of failure.
Fortunately, mini implants fare very well under this criteria compared to conventional posts. Removing and replacing a conventional implant is costly, time consuming, and surgically invasive. To remove the posts, the bone around the implant must be cut out and removed. This is an expensive procedure that will take months to fully heal from.
In contrast, a dentist can remove mini dental implants simply by rotating the implant out of its socket by hand. The process is quite gentle, particularly compared to the alternative.
The Cost of Mini Dental Implants vs Conventional Implants
Mini dental implants can lower your cost of treatment in more ways than one. Not only can they help you avoid expensive additional surgeries, but they generally cost less compared to their larger counterparts.
The larger the implant, the more expensive it tends to be. Most dental offices pass down these higher material costs to their patients, increasing the total cost of their implant treatment. Conventional implants can cost twice as much as minis, if not more.
How Much Does a Full Set of Mini Dental Implants Cost?
The cost of a full set of dental implants will vary depending on the dental office and the region. For fixed treatments like All on 4 or Zirconia Arches, dentists and oral surgeons will charge between $50-100k for a set of full upper and lower dental implants. The price will go down for removable implant dentures, which range from $20-$50k for a full set.
Some dental offices will reduce the cost of full implants if mini implants are used. Others will charge the same. In our office, we charge for every procedure as though small diameter implants will be used and do not increase our prices if larger implants are required.
Mini Dental Implants and the Minimally Invasive Approach
Our office uses a unique treatment method called the Minimally Invasive Approach. Named by our founder, Dr. Steve Brown, this approach focuses on minimizing surgical trauma as much as possible. Central to this approach is the philosophy that every patient’s oral structure is unique and therefore requires unique treatment.
This is why we place a variety of diameters and lengths of implants. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, we will select the right types of dental implants for your bone. Not all patients can safely receive dental implants wider than 3mm, and even fewer can do so without additional reconstructive surgeries.
Our Minimally Invasive Approach also reduces surgical trauma in the delivery of the implants. Most dental offices use a form of implant delivery called flapping. Flapping involves cutting the gums and peeling them back from the jaw bone. Once the bone is fully exposed, the dental implants are drilled into place with a handheld electrical instrument.
The Dental Implant Place delivers implants more gently. Instead of cutting and peeling back the gums, our implant dentists insert a tiny pinhole in the gum tissue. Then, each implant is gently rotated into place by hand.
This approach significantly reduces surgical trauma. Many of our patients report feeling no pain during and after their surgery, and almost all report eating within a few days of the procedure. Mini dental implants help make this possible.
Contact The Dental Implant Place for More Information
Would you like to learn more about mini dental implants and our Minimally Invasive Approach?
Contact our implant office today and speak with our implant team. We have over 80 years of combined experience with dental implants and can help you determine which treatment would be best for you.