During a recent seminar to a group of physicians we brought up the use of “mini-implants” to support and firm up dentures. One of the doctors asked some specifics about these small wonders.
Question: What are the mini-implants and what makes them different from other implants?
Answer: The Sandex mini-implant is a threaded titanium pin that inserts into the bone. The device is designed like a snap. The female portion of the snap is cemented into the denture and the male portion is placed into the jaw. They are only 1.8mm in diameter, slightly larger in diameter than a pencil lead. As many as 4 of these mini-implants can be used in the front of the jaw to stabilize a denture. The 4 “snaps” give the denture a substantial fit with terrific retention. The placement of this is relatively painless and takes less than 1 hour. The best part is that immediately after you leave the office you can eat you first steak dinner in a long time.
Question: How many visits are needed?
Answer: Usually they can be placed and activated in a well made denture in a single visit. It usually requires an hour or so to place them. Since there is no surgery involved with their placement the healing time is significantly reduced compared with traditional implant placement.
Question: What material are they made of?
Answer: They are made of an alloy of Titanium which makes them very kind to the bone and will not be rejected by the body.
Question: how much bone is necessary in the lower jaw to hold these in place?
Answer: A minimum of 12mm (1/2 inch) of bone in the lower jaw is needed.
Question: I’ve heard that standard dental implants are somewhat expensive. What about these mini-implants?
Answer: Every patient is different, but in general the mini-implants are about one half the cost of traditional implants. There are limitations to the standard implant, but for those patients who have a significant amount of bone loss these are very effective. The mini-implant can be used in existing dentures if they are functional and not too old.
Question: Are they painful when inserted?
Answer: My understanding is that the level of discomfort is about the same as a very simple extraction. Pain usually is controlled with a couple of aspirin or ibuprofen.
Question: Are there any problems of infection or failure?
Answer: Since the placement is very conservative, infection is rare. It is usually recommended that 2-4 of these stabilizers are used to hold a denture in place. The more that are used the better the long term success will be.
Question: Is there a period of time when I can’t wear my denture?
Answer: You can wear your denture immediately after the procedure is done. This is a nice advantage since dentures are depended on to eat your food.
Question: What’s a typical daily routine one might expect once the MDI’s have been placed?
Answer: As with all dental applications, there’s a short adjustment period during which time the MDI patient becomes comfortable placing and removing the denture. Typically, this involves removal of the lower denture in the morning, brushing the gums and implant area with an ACCESS curved bristle toothbrush, rinsing the mouth, rinsing the denture itself, then replacing it. The result is a normal day’s activity for the patient, including eating, talking, taking a nap, etc. Then, in the evening, the denture is usually removed again, the ACCESS brush is used, and the mouth thoroughly rinsed. The MDI patient then opts to sleep with, or without his or her denture. The result is a fully functioning dental appliance that works, is socially acceptable, has a comfortable fit, etc.