Dental implants have become the treatment of choice for those who are missing one or more teeth. The improved stability of a dental implant relative to other options (such as dentures), along with the esthetic considerations, have made them the ideal method to replace missing teeth.
A traditional dental implant is a titanium post, which is imbedded into the jaw bone to mimic a natural tooth root. The top of the implant attaches to a small connector piece called an abutment, which then holds the artificial tooth or teeth. This could be a crown, a bridge, or a partial or full denture.
In order to be a good candidate for a dental implant, a patient needs to have enough bone tissue in the jaw to support the implant. If there isn’t enough bone, then a surgical procedure can add additional bone tissue. However, some patients would like to avoid this additional procedure. Once it fuses with the bone, then a traditional dental implant is extremely stable for the long term.
A traditional dental implant may require more than one surgical procedure for placement. In some cases, the implant is placed, and then a few months of healing time are permitted. The dentist usually places a temporary restoration for this time. After the implant has fused with the jaw bone, the permanent tooth restoration is attached to the implant.
However, there are also some cases in which the tooth restoration can be immediately attached to the implant without waiting for the healing process. Dr. Caggiano offers this option to patients who are good candidates for it.
Mini dental implants were developed as an alternative to traditional dental implants. Although they were first intended to be temporary devices, dentists discovered that they fused with the jaw bone just as traditional implants did. They’re now FDA-approved for use in long-term dental restoration. A mini dental implant is similar to a traditional dental implant. However, the device is smaller, both in length and in thickness. In addition, the implant and the abutment are one solid piece, with the tooth restoration attached to the top.
Because a mini dental implant is smaller than a traditional implant, it doesn’t provide as much stability. More than one mini implant is often used to improve stability, particularly when the missing tooth is a larger tooth (such as a molar). Because it’s smaller, the mini dental implant can be placed in areas where the bone is not thick enough to support a traditional dental implant, without requiring an additional surgical procedure to build up the bone tissue. A mini dental implant also generally costs less than a traditional dental implant. This may be an issue for some patients, particularly those without good dental insurance.
Which option is right for you depends on your situation. If you have enough bone available to be a candidate for a traditional dental implant, then you may want to choose that option for its added stability. You may also want to choose a mini dental implant, because it costs less and the placement process is easier.
If you don’t have enough bone, then you may have two choices. You could choose to get one or more mini dental implants, or you could choose to undergo a procedure to add more bone to the area of the missing tooth so that you can get a traditional dental implant. Some patients prefer to avoid the extra procedure, so they go with mini implants. Others prefer added stability, so they go with traditional implants.
Ultimately, you will need to consult with your dentist to determine the relative benefits of each type of dental implant in your particular case. Dr. Caggiano has years of experience in placing both types of dental implants. If you tend to feel anxious about dental procedures, Dr. Caggiano also offers his patients sedation dentistry, which can help you to feel comfortable during your appointments.
For over 25 years, Dr. Mark Caggiano, DDS has provided cosmetic and restorative dentistry in a comfortable, professional environment. Dr. Caggiano received a degree in Biology and his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from The University of Southern California. He has had extensive post-graduate training and is a member of numerous professional organizations including The American Dental Association and The International Dental Implant Association. Dr. Caggiano makes dental treatment relaxed and comfortable for patients while enhancing their oral health and beautifying their smiles.