The primary factor in making the decision about which kind of implant will work best is the amount of bone in the site where the implant is to be placed.
Is placement in an arch where teeth have been missing awhile or is it to replace a tooth that needs to be, or was recently, extracted? Knowing that bone dissolves away over time without the stimulation provided by natural teeth is a major factor in the decision.
Usually it takes about one to two years for most sites to diminish to a point where root form implant placement could be a challenge to place in a favorable position without a separate bone graft.
In the front teeth areas, this time is shorter.
Mini dental implants are used primarily in the situation where the teeth have been missing for a long time and bone volume is less. This is why they work so well to retain dentures on patients that had their teeth extracted decades ago. Dentures and-or bridges can be attached right away.
If a tooth breaks or needs to be extracted, this is where the root form implant would be favored. Oftentimes the implant can be placed the same day as the extraction, lessening the time needed before they are strong enough to support a tooth.
Most of the time, a root form implant needs time to integrate (fuse) with the bone before it can be attached to anything. A mini dental implant cannot be placed right away in an area of fresh extraction(s) and would take longer to restore than a root form type.
Another consideration is the health of the patient. If the patient is medically compromised, the mini dental implant requires less invasive surgery. There is minimal, if any, post-op bleeding to control.
The good news is that, whichever implant is placed, there is also a minimal amount of post-op discomfort.
Mini dental implants are a fraction of the cost of root form implants. This is true when using four of them to stabilize a loose lower denture.
Cost is always a factor, but should not be the sole determinate to decide which is the best to use given the patient's unique situation.
For instance, in replacing front teeth, root form implants are going to be more esthetic than a mini dental implant.
Each of the type of implants has its benefits and both are good tools to use in a variety of situations. Discussing this with your dentist is the best way to determine what implant will be right for you.
James G. Jenkins, D.M.D. is the owner of Bluffton Dental Care in Bluffton.