The difference between dental implants and mini-dental implants

Often our patients ask us about the difference between conventional and mini-dental implants. Both are dental implants; however, they differ in size, structure and intended use. We routinely recommend and place both types of dental implants in our Pensacola office. This article provides a comprehensive comparison between these two types of dental implants.

The first thing to keep in mind is that mini-dental implants are a sub-class of dental implants. They are, as the name suggest, dental implants that are smaller in size than standard (or conventional) dental implants. Obviously, they have been developed not for aesthetic reasons, but to meet specific needs. Mini-dental implants are often able to be used when regular dental implants cannot.

They share the same purposes

There are two broad purposes for using dental implants:

  1. To replace one or more missing teeth;
  2. To act as anchors for removable dentures so that they can be taken out and re-inserted easily.

Both mini-dental implants and regular dental implants are used for both of these purposes.

They are made of the same material

All dental implants (standard or mini) are made from titanium, or rather, alloys of titanium. Titanium is bio-compatible, meaning that the cells of your body will not reject it as a foreign object. In addition, titanium has a special property which is virtually unique to it: osseo-integration. If a titanium object is placed in close proximity with living bone, bone cells actually grow into the metallic surface, thus forming a very natural and strong bond. The implant virtually becomes a part of the jaw bone.

Differences Between Standard and Mini-Dental Implants

Up to this point what has been discussed is what they have in common. Now for the differences:

  • Structure. Standard implants (without the crown) are made in two pieces: the screw and the abutment. The screw has external threads which go into the bone, and a set of internal threads in a hole at the top end where the abutment is screwed in. The abutment is for receiving the crown or other restoration. Mini implants, on the other hand, come as a single unit where the abutment is in the shape of ball integral with the implant body.
  • Size. The diameter of a mini-dental implant is less than 3 mm, whereas a standard implant can be twice as large.
  • Chewing Forces. With a larger surface area standard implants can bear stronger chewing forces and offer better long-term stability.
  • Strength. Because of the smaller size, two mini implants will be needed to provide as much support as a single standard implant.
  • Cost. Mini-dental implants cost less. (However, if you use two in place of a standard implant, there isn’t much of a difference.)
  • Lifespan. Conventional implants permit better load distribution around the jaw and put less of a long-term stress. So, standard implants sometimes have a longer lifespan than mini implants.
  • Temporary Use. If a temporary or semi-permanent fix is required, mini-dental implants are less invasive and more suitable.
  • Low Bone Density. Individuals with certain health issues will generally suffer from bone degeneration. Mini implants are better suited for them.

The decision to fix your missing teeth with dental implants is an import one. If you’ve been unable to get dental implants in the past, mini-dental implants may be the solution. Get in touch with us to see whether you are a suitable candidate!