Dentistry is experiencing a dramatic rise in the number of patients having dental implant surgery.
One of the main reasons for the increased number of implants placed is the use of mini dental implants.
Mini dental implants addressed the main objections for patients avoiding conventional sized implants. Conventional sized implants required a significant amount of native bone, something that was missing in almost half the population. Prior to placement of a conventional sized implant, it was often necessary for the dentist or surgeon to place a bone graft to develop enough bone. Bone grafting procedures are extremely time consuming, uncomfortable, and expensive. Even if the patient had enough bone, placement of a conventional implant most often involved surgically exposing the gums and bone. The time required for the dentist to perform this procedure was tantamount to driving up the cost to provide the treatment. In addition, healing time necessary after a dental implant procedure was significantly increased to non-surgical placement of dental implants. Because of the complexity of placing a conventional dental implant, most general dentists would refer the patient to an oral surgeon or periodontist, dental specialists who were often more expensive than general dentists. Finally, the third reason that patients objected to dental implants was cost related. In a typical scenario, a patient would be advised that they should have an implant. After having a cat scan performed (almost always at a specified radiology center) to determine the amount of bone available, the patient would be referred to a specialist for a bone graft. After waiting 4 – 6 months for the graft to heal, the patient would return to the specialist to have the implant placed. After waiting another 4 – 6 months for the implant to integrate (join with the patient’s own bone), another surgical procedure would be done to expose the implant so that the dentist could place a crown. The patient would then return to the dentist to have the crown made. It was not uncommon for a patient to endure 18 months without their tooth (teeth), several trips to their specialist, and several more trips to their dentist before treatment was completed. This type of scenario would cost between $5-10,000. Mini dental implants provide a non-surgical alternative. Their small size negated the need for grafting, seeking a specialist, or waiting 18 months. It was not uncommon for a patient to see their dentist who was trained in the placement of mini dental implants and have their implant placed and an impression for crown done on the very same visit. Costs for these procedures, without needing to see a specialist, would typically be 1/3 to 1/2 the cost of traditional implants. Mini dental implants and the non surgical placement of them has spurred the next great dental revolution. There is no reason that 95% of patients wanting a permanent replacement for their missing teeth cannot get satisfaction with today’s newest dental procedures.
Jeffrey H. Fox, DDS