The Effects of Tooth Loss
Losing teeth is often a natural part of growing older, but can also occur due to disease and negligent oral care. No matter the reason for your tooth loss, it can have detrimental effects on your smile’s appearance, your ability to speak and chew, as well as your overall health.
That’s why it’s so important to seek a tooth replacement option that can elevate your quality of life. Though bridges and dentures exist, they don’t treat the source of many tooth loss issues. Even if you can eat and smile, your health could be continuously declining.
Dental implants are the best and healthiest tooth replacement option because they stimulate your jawbone, keeping it strong so it won’t deteriorate. Dentists like Dr. Brooks Larson recommend implants for tooth loss because they can give you a beautiful, permanent smile.
But even among dental implants, there are multiple types. Two of these main categories include traditional implants and miniature implants. Read on to learn the difference and about which one may suit you.
Benefits of Traditional Implants
Traditional implants are the standard type of dental implant — they’re the size and shape of a natural tooth, also performing the same functions. They’re hardly distinguishable from a natural tooth if you don’t know about the implant.
The Components of a Dental Implant
- Fixture: The fixture is the part of the dental implant that acts as the roots of the replacement tooth. Often made of titanium, but sometimes ceramic, the fixture creates a secure bond with your living jawbone tissue in a process called osseointegration.
- Abutment: The abutment is the middle piece of the implant, attaching the crown to the fixture.
- Crown: Your crown is the only part of the implant that people will see. It’s designed to look and feel like a natural tooth, so you can eat, speak, and smile with freedom.
Are You a Candidate?
Traditional dental implants are a great option for many people who have one or more missing teeth, but there is a catch — some people need supplemental procedures. When you’ve been missing teeth for a while, even if you have another restoration like dentures, your oral health may have declined.
Supplemental procedures are designed to restore your oral health so you can receive dental implants. Bone grafts and sinus augmentations can strengthen a deteriorated jawbone, while gum grafts can restore lost gum tissue.
The Dental Implant Process
The first part of your dental implant journey is to have a consultation with an implantologist such as Dr. Jeffery Platt in Colorado Springs. At your consultation, your dentist will examine your oral health and develop a treatment plan that suits your individual needs.
If your dentist determines that a supplemental procedure will help you, that’ll be the first step of your dental implant procedure. It can take several weeks to several months for the new jawbone material to grow, so this part can take a while.
Once you’re ready to receive the first piece of your implant, your dentist will place the fixture. This is another time-consuming part of the process, though important. The fixture may take several months to create a bond with your jawbone.
After your fixture is securely in your jaw, you’ll be ready to receive the final parts of your dental implant. Your dentist will place the abutment and crown at the same time, completing your new smile.
How Mini Implants Are Different
Mini implants are what they sound like — a smaller version of a traditional implant. They differ in more ways than that, though, with a different structure and procedure. One of the major advantages of mini implants is that they’re less expensive than traditional implants.
The Structure of a Mini Implant
- Titanium post: The post is the part that’s like a traditional fixture, having a ball on the end to keep it in place. The post is smaller than a fixture and requires smaller holes to place.
- Socket: The socket has a rubber O-ring that’s used to attach the crown to the post, like an abutment.
- Crown: The crown is loosely the same, but smaller.
No Supplemental Procedures Necessary
One of the major advantages of mini implants is that they don’t require any supplemental procedures. For people who don’t want to or can’t undergo supplemental procedures, mini implants are a great option.
The post of a mini implant is smaller than the fixture of a traditional implant, so it doesn’t require as much jawbone density to stay in place. This is also the reason why a large window for recovery isn’t necessary.
Can Be Placed in One Appointment
Mini implants also don’t require the extended amounts of time that traditional implants do to place. In fact, they can be placed in just one appointment. That means you can walk out of your appointment on the very same day with a complete smile.
Downsides of Mini Implants
Though mini implants may sound like everything traditional dental implants are but better, they do come with their own set of disadvantages. Some of the complications that can arise with mini implants include:
- Multiple implants: Because mini implants are smaller, sometimes you’ll need more than one placed even if you’ve only lost one tooth. This can put more strain on your jawbone over time.
- Long-term survival: There’s limited evidence that mini implants last as long as traditional dental implants.
- Fracturing of the implant: Mini implants are more likely to break during placement, whereas this is extremely rare with traditional implants.
Most implant dentists, like Dr. David Blaustein, recommend traditional dental implants because they’ve been proven through research to last longer and confer more benefits. But if your situation is better suited to mini implants, they’re a great alternative.
Your Dentist Can Help You Decide
In the end, your situation is unique and your decision will be aided by a professional’s experience. Though mini implants have an easier process, traditional implants are generally regarded as the more stable, permanent option.
When you go to see your dentist for a dental implant consultation, it’s a good idea to have some questions in mind with regards to your treatment. Your dentist will recommend the best treatment method for you based on your oral health condition, but you should be comfortable with your decision.