Mini-dental implants, or MDI implants, are titanium implants used as a base for dentures. The implants are small, with a diameter approximately the size of a toothpick. The implants function using a ball and socket with an O-ring that keeps the dentures in place. Mini-dental implants perform the same function as the original root of a person’s tooth.
Mini-denture implants are one of three types of implants, and are smaller than the midi, hybrid and standard varieties. There are four lengths of mini-denture implants: 10, 13, 15 and 18 mm. The implants are used in areas where there were small teeth, premolar teeth or a missing tooth in a narrow area. According to the Consumer Guide to Dentistry, mini-denture implants are typically used in the lower jaw.
Unlike other dental implants, installing mini-dental implants is generally a one-step process. The minimally invasive surgical procedure is done under light anesthesia in a doctor’s office. The dentist places the implants in the cortical or alveolar bone by drilling a hole, and then screwing them in. The dentures go on top of the mini-dental implants.
Mini-denture implants are considered long-term or permanent because, with proper oral hygiene, the implants can last for years. Not everyone is a candidate for mini-denture implants. There are certain factors that cause mini-denture failure or complications, including heavy drinking or smoking, medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s or diabetes, or jaw cancer. Failure or complications also occur in patients who are still growing or exhibit teeth clenching.
Mini-denture Implant Considerations
An individual must clean and maintain mini-dental implants just like he would his natural teeth. According to the Atkinson Dental Clinic, a cosmetic and general dentistry provider in Rolla, Missouri, when food and bacterial debris called plaque isn’t removed, gums become inflamed and force the implant's O-rings to lose retention. Clean the mini-dental implants using a specially designed toothbrush that gently removes debris. The cost of a single implant varies. According to Consumer Guide to Dentistry, however, a single implant cost $1,000 to $5,000 as of 2011.