Dental Mini-Implants: An Accessible And Affordable Option To Replace Missing Teeth
Missing teeth, whether one tooth or all, can have a tremendous effect on a person’s life, from the psychological impact and feelings of embarrassment due to the esthetics of missing teeth to the functional and nutritional deficiency of not being able to chew properly. There are many reasons why it is important to replace missing teeth but, it can be quite difficult especially in cases where full dentures are required. As hard as dentists try, it is extremely difficult to make a denture that functions as well or feels the same as natural teeth. Dentures, especially lower dentures, have a tendency to move around. With dentures, daily activities such as eating and talking, as well as facial expressions like laughing or yawning can be challenging if not impossible. And, unfortunately, as time goes by, dentures tend to become more difficult to use as the bone in the jaw slowly resorbs and shrinks away, reducing the area that is used to stabilize the denture.
Today in dentistry we have a solution that will work for most full denture wearers. Dental implants can be placed in a patient's jaw to create a solid anchor point for the denture to hold on to. A simple modification to an existing denture can take advantage of this anchor and stabilize the denture. Having a secure and comfortable denture enables the wearer to eat and talk with confidence. Implants also have the effect of preserving jaw bone so jaw shrinkage is kept to a minimum.
Implants can also be used to replace single or multiple missing teeth that previously could only be replaced with bridges or partial dentures. Partial dentures have similar issues to full dentures that can be improved or eliminated by using an implant. An implant is also a much better alternative to the traditional bridge which requires shaving down additional teeth, potentially perfectly healthy teeth, in order to replace the missing tooth. Implants can also allow for proper brushing and flossing just like natural teeth.
Today there are two main types of implants available: conventional and mini. Mini-implants are an accessible and affordable option in many cases. They are beneficial for those who have lost some bone over the years as they do not require extensive bone grafting surgery. Sinus lift surgery, potentially required with conventional implants, is also not required for mini-implants. In addition, they are well suited for use in denture retention, especially when a thin jaw bone doesn’t allow for the width of a conventional implant. Due to the less invasive nature of the mini-implant procedure there is usually little discomfort following the procedure and most often the denture can be placed over the implants the same day so, a patient gets immediate results, both aesthetically and functionally.
Implants, both mini and conventional, are not for everyone and only a visit and examination by your dentist can help determine if implants are right for you. For more information regarding dental implants visit the American Dental Association at www.ADA.org, the International Academy of Mini Dental Implants at www.iaomdi.org, or make an appointment with your dentist.
I am a general dentist practicing in a solo practice on Madison Avenue in Lakewood.