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How Do Mini Dental Implants Work?

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A mini dental implant is a small titanium screw which can be placed within the jaw to restore single teeth or stabilise dentures.

When teeth are removed there is normally a considerable amount of bone lost. If the teeth have been removed for many years then the bone loss can be excessive. This makes the jaw very small and it then becomes difficult to fit a denture because there is nothing to hold the denture in place.

As mini implants are smaller it means the surgical procedure is simpler and there is no need to create large holes in the bone to insert the implant. The procedure usually takes less than two hours and the denture can be worn straight away.

A dentist will recommend implants to patients because it will reduce further bone loss. This form of implant is also relatively painless. Patients only report experiencing some pain for 24 hours after the procedure. After this time they are likely to experience no swelling, bruising or any other symptom connected to the dentistry performed. Patients should be functioning normally again within 24 to 48 hours.

Once the implants are in place the dentures become more secure inside the mouth. With this form of cosmetic dentistry the dentures are able to hold in place, improving facial appearance and making the patient look younger.

Janet describes her experience of implants: "The shape of my face has changed quite dramatically since I had the implants put in. Before  I looked very old and very drawn and my face was very thin.  Since I've had it done, the difference is really incredible. My face looks fatter, it makes me look younger, it gives me more confidence and all in all I think it makes me look lovely. I'm really, really pleased."

How are they fitted?

Fitting an implant would normally take an hour for one jaw and an hour and a half for two jaws. As the patient does not suffer a great deal of swelling or after pain from the dental implant it is possible to do both the upper and lower jaw in the same day, although generally they are done one at a time.

The implants are normally placed in the jaw whilst the patient is under local anaesthetic. This means that the anaesthetic will wear off around three hours after surgery and allow the patient to function normally. Patients will often find that they can eat, laugh, and have a much better quality of life immediately after the implant is fitted.

Once the patient has the implants in place they have to maintain them daily using a special toothbrush. The toothbrush is designed with curly bristles to fit around the dental implants and should be used twice a day.

Long term research on implants shows them to be successful 95% of the time*. This compares favourably with conventional implants which have a similar success rate.

Dr Rob Dunn from Nantwich Smile Design describes his experience with fitting dental implants: "In my own experience, in my own practice, we are recording higher than a 95% success rate. In all the time that I've been placing mini implants I've had only 3 major complaints. These were all from ladies who complained that now that they could eat again they were putting on weight in big numbers."

*Griffitts TM, Collins CP, Collins PC. Mini dental implants: An adjunct for retention, stability, and comfort for the edentulous patient. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 2005; 100: E81-84.


10040 Reviewed November 2012

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