Many individuals living with dentures find them to be a poor substitute for their actual teeth. Dentures can be loose, slipping in and out of place as an individual attempts to eat or even talk. As dental technology has developed, the use of mini implants has become a viable solution for ill-fitting dentures and a more cost-effective alternative to standard dental implants.
The first dental implants can be traced to ancient Egypt where they used seashells and ivory to replace missing teeth. Gold, silver and donated teeth have also been used as replacements through the years, often unsuccessfully. Finally, in the 1950s, a Swedish doctor discovered that titanium actually forms a bond with bone tissue. This discovery paved the way for implant dentistry as we know it today.
During a standard dental implant, one tooth is replaced at a time by drilling a hole in the gum and placing a titanium screw into the hole. A protective cap and temporary crown is placed over the exposed portion of the implant while the implant anchors to the gum. This anchoring process could take up to six months, at the end of which the temporary crown is removed and a permanent crown is placed over the implant. This procedure can be quite costly and highly invasive for those who have previously worn dentures and have an entire mouthful of teeth to replace.
For these individuals, as well as for those with insufficient bone remaining to accommodate standard-sized implants, mini dental implants are the better option. During this procedure, which takes about ninety minutes from start to finish, four toothpick-sized titanium alloy implants are placed in the jawbone. The denture is then fitted with corresponding O-rings which snap over the tops of the implants, securing the denture until the wearer chooses to remove it himself. There is no need to wait for the implants to anchor or to insert any temporary denture. The entire process is complete at the end of one doctor's visit and the recovery is short and practically pain-free.
Although this is a very safe, minimally invasive procedure with a 95% success rate, there are always concerns when considering any surgical endeavor. As with any surgery, overall health plays an important role in the success of the procedure. Activities such as smoking or excessive drinking can have a negative effect on the healing process. Habitual grinding of teeth can also place unnecessary strain on the implants and should be discussed with the dentist prior to the procedure. Any degenerative bone disorder could cause complications and should also be discussed with a professional prior to the surgery.