Implant Wars!

Mini vs. Full: The Controversy

Dental implant treatment has been around for over 30 years. From replacement of a single tooth to anchor points for dentures, implants have distinct advantages over bridges.

A Bridge Too Far

Bridges attach to existing teeth, which, in order to accept the appliance, need to be filed and shaped. This may make these teeth prone to bacterial plaque accumulations, decay, periodontal disease, and the possible need for future root canals. Bridges typically wear out after 10 to 15 years.

Titanium implants, on the other hand, attach and fuse to the underlying bone. When installed properly, they last a lifetime.

The Mini Invasion

Originally designed as a temporary measure for use during the healing phase of regular implants, mini implants were never intended to be a permanent option. Lately, however, mini implants are being touted as a viable alternative to full-sized implants. Why?

  • Cost – Mini implants are half the cost of regular implants.
  • Fast Healing Time – Dentures can be attached almost immediately.
  • Fit – In cases where teeth have been missing for some time, loss of the underlying bone may make full sized implants impossible to install.
What they don’t tell you:
  • Wear – Being smaller, minis can’t take the pressure. They typically wear out in 1 to 5 years.
  • Quality – In an effort to reduce cost and grab market share, the manufacturers of these things regularly cut corners.
  • Competence – A typical weekend training session at the mini implant manufacturer’s headquarters is NOT sufficient training!
  • Bone loss – Not only do mini implants crack and break more often, they can damage the underlying bone in the process. Ever pound a nail into a board only to have it split lengthwise?
  • Profit Margin – Because mini implants install quickly, they are a moneymaker. And when they eventually break – more fees!
  • Advertising – If you read the literature from a manufacturer, you will find a huge list of Pros, and only one or two Cons. They are the greatest thing since sliced bread! Unfortunately, in a year or so, you won’t even be able to chew on sliced bread…

Bone Loss and the Zest InPlace Implant

Bone likes pressure. In cases where a tooth, or teeth, have been missing for a while, the underlying bone is actually re-absorbed by the body (technically it’s called alveolar ridge resorption), leaving full sized implants with very little to grab on to. In severe cases, this can lead to a condition known as ‘Witches Chin’, where the jaw shrinks and literally comes to a point. The mini implant being is being promoted as the solution.

Fortunately, this isn’t necessarily so.

The Zest InPlace Implant System is a full sized, but narrow diameter implant specifically designed with this condition in mind. The bone-grabbing threads are roughened, and larger than conventional narrow-thread implants, while the ball bearing-like caps have a pivoting race to allow for angle correction.

In 1988 a car known as the Yugo was introduced to the American market. Promoted as efficient, low-cost transportation, it no longer exists. Representing the cutting edge of Serbo-Croatian technology, they quite literally dissolved in the rain. Cost should never be the overriding factor in determining a dental procedure. This is something you only want to do once. Don’t be a Yugo. The last thing you need is parts falling out of your mouth like chiclets.

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