Mini implants for upper dentures (and lower dentures)

Having stable and secure dentures is essential to restore your oral function and regain their confidence in daily activities. However, many denture wearers face challenges with the movement and instability of their upper dentures.

In such cases, your dentist or denture specialist may recommend the use of mini implants (minis) to enhance the stability and retention of your upper dentures, and lower dentures. Compared to conventional dental implants, minis do not require a lot of bone structure, which makes them the best choice for people resolving loose dentures among the elderly.

Mini implants comprise small titanium posts that are surgically inserted into the jawbone, providing a secure foundation for attaching the denture. They offer a minimally invasive alternative to traditional implants and can significantly improve the overall functionality of different types of upper dentures.

Mini implants can be used for stabilizing lower dentures as well, depending on the specific needs and circumstances of the individual. The decision to use them is based on factors such as bone density, anatomical considerations, and the desired level of denture stability.

It is important for individuals considering mini implants for denture stability to consult with a dental professional who can assess their specific needs and provide personalized advice.

Mini implants for lower dentures

Understanding Mini Implants

Mini implants are dental implants with a smaller diameter compared to traditional implants. They are about half as thick, with a diameter of between 1.8 and 3.3 mm. They are specifically designed for cases where there is limited bone density or space, making them suitable for individuals with inadequate bone structure. The purpose of mini implants is to anchor and stabilize dentures securely.

Differences between Traditional Implants and Mini Implants

While traditional implants and mini implants share the same goal of supporting dentures, there are distinct differences between them in terms of size, procedure duration, additional procedures, immediate teeth mounting, recovery time, and long-term research.

Traditional implants:

  • Require a longer procedure duration and may involve sinus lifting or bone grafting.
  • Recovery time is typically longer, with potential discomfort lasting up to two weeks. 
  • Temporary denture is placed after procedure. Permanent denture is fitted months later after surgical site has healed. 
  • They usually last for more than 15 years

Mini implants:

  • Have a shorter procedure duration
  • Immediate teeth mounting in same appointment
  • Quicker recovery, with discomfort subsiding within two days.
  • They typically last for 6 to 9 years before requiring replacement

While traditional implants have been extensively researched, mini implants are known to be durable but have limited research available.

FeatureTraditional ImplantsMini Implants
SizeLargerSmaller
ComponentsAbutment connection, screw, crownCrown, post
Procedure Duration6 months to 2 yearsFew hours
Additional ProceduresSinus lifting, bone graftingNot usually required
Time to Mount Fake TeethSeveral weeks to monthsImmediately after procedure
Recovery TimeSeveral weeks to months2 days for soreness/discomfort
Durability Can last over 15 yearsTypically last 6 – 9 years

Benefits of Mini Implants for Upper Dentures

1. Improved Stability and Retention of Upper Dentures

One of the primary benefits of mini implants for upper dentures is the enhanced stability and retention they provide. The implants act as firm anchors, preventing the denture from moving or slipping during speaking or eating. This stability allows individuals to feel more confident and comfortable while wearing their dentures.

2. Enhanced Chewing Efficiency and Bite Force

With mini implants, individuals experience a significant improvement in their ability to chew and bite. The implants provide a solid foundation, enabling better force distribution and improved chewing efficiency. This not only enhances the enjoyment of meals but also promotes proper digestion and overall oral health.

3. Increased Comfort and Confidence in Daily Activities

The stability and secure fit of dentures with mini implants result in increased comfort and confidence in daily activities. Wearers can speak, smile, and laugh without the fear of their dentures slipping or causing embarrassment. This newfound confidence positively impacts social interactions, self-esteem, and overall quality of life.

The Mini Implant Placement Process

Mini implants consist of a titanium post, which acts as the artificial tooth root, and a ball-shaped attachment that connects to the denture. The titanium material is biocompatible and integrates with the jawbone, providing a stable and durable support system for the denture.

Here are the steps for placing the mini implants:

Step 1: Initial Assessment and Treatment Planning

Before the mini implant placement procedure, a comprehensive assessment is conducted by a dental professional. This includes evaluating the individual’s oral health, bone density, and denture condition. Treatment planning involves determining the number and optimal positions of mini implants required for adequate denture support. X-rays or CT scans may be taken to assess bone density.

Step 2: Treatment Planning

A treatment plan will be created based on your specific needs and goals. The number and placement of mini implants will be determined to ensure optimal support and stability for your dentures. The lower jaw may need 4 to 6 mini implants, while the upper jaw requires nearly 10 or more mini implants to support the denture against gravity.

Step 3: Administer local anesthesia

The surgical procedure for mini implant placement is minimally invasive and is typically performed under local anesthesia to numb the surgical area and ensure your comfort throughout the procedure.

Step 4: Surgical Procedure for Mini Implant Placement

Implant Placement: Using specialized instruments, the dentist will make small incisions in the gum tissue at predetermined locations. The mini implants, which consist of a post or screw-like structure, are then gently inserted into the jawbone. The gums are then sutured, allowing the healing process to begin.

Step 5: Attachment of Dentures

Once the mini implants are in place, the dentures are adjusted to incorporate attachments that will securely connect to the implants. The dentures are then placed over the mini implants and carefully positioned for a comfortable fit and natural appearance.

Step 6: Follow-Up Visits

After the initial placement, you will have follow-up visits with your dentist to monitor the healing process and ensure proper integration of the mini implants with your jawbone. Adjustments to the dentures may be made for optimal comfort and functionality.

Step 7: Post-operative Care and Recovery

Following the mini implant placement, proper post-operative care is crucial for successful healing and integration of the implants. This includes adhering to any prescribed medications, maintaining good oral hygiene practices, and following dietary recommendations.

Mini implants for lower dentures vs. upper dentures

When it comes to using mini implants for dentures, there are notable differences between the upper and lower arches. The number of mini implants required for stability and support varies due to the influence of gravity and the mechanics of the dentures.

How many mini implants for lower denture?

For lower dentures, typically 4 to 6 mini implants are sufficient. This is because gravity aids in holding the dentures securely in place when they are snapped onto the implants. The natural interaction between the dentures and implants ensures stability without the need for a larger number of implants. However, the case is different for upper-arch mini implants.

How many mini implants for upper denture?

Due to the pull of gravity on the upper denture, a larger number of mini implants, often a minimum of 4 and up to 10, may be necessary to achieve the desired level of stability. The denture must be securely fastened to counteract the downward force exerted by gravity.

How many mini implants vs. traditional implants?

While mini implants can be used for upper dentures, some patients may opt for standard dental implants instead, which require only 4 implants to support an upper denture. This may be a preferred choice for patients seeking a simplified implant placement process and fewer implants without compromising the stability and functionality of their upper denture.

Caring for Dentures with Mini Implants

When caring for dentures with mini implants, it’s important to note that the dentures themselves are removable. The mini implants provide stability and support for the dentures, allowing for a more secure fit. To ensure optimal oral hygiene, it’s necessary to remove the dentures for cleaning.

Clean the dentures

To clean the dentures, remove them from the mouth and rinse them under running water to remove any food particles or debris. Use a soft-bristled denture brush and a non-abrasive denture cleaner to gently brush all surfaces of the dentures, including the gum-side, teeth, and any attachments that connect to the mini implants. Avoid using regular toothpaste or abrasive cleaners, as they can damage the denture material.

Clean around the mini implants

When cleaning the dentures, it’s also essential to clean around the mini implants to maintain proper oral hygiene. Gently brush the gum tissue surrounding the implants with a soft toothbrush or a specialized gum brush recommended by your dental professional. This helps remove bacteria and plaque buildup that can affect the health of the gums and the stability of the mini implants.

Soak the Dentures

In addition to brushing, it’s beneficial to soak the dentures in a denture-cleaning solution or a mild denture-soaking solution recommended by your dental professional. Soaking helps to further disinfect the dentures and remove stubborn stains or odors. Follow the instructions provided with the denture cleanser and ensure adequate soaking time.

Proper Storage

When not wearing the dentures, it’s crucial to store them properly to maintain their shape and integrity. Place the dentures in a denture cup or container filled with clean water or a denture-soaking solution. Avoid using hot water, as it can cause warping or distortion of the denture material. Keeping the dentures moist helps prevent drying out, which can lead to discomfort or changes in fit.

Regular Dental Check-ups

Annual dental check-ups are essential for individuals with dentures and mini implants. Dental professionals can assess the condition of the dentures, evaluate the stability of the mini implants, and provide professional cleanings to remove any plaque or tartar buildup. These check-ups also allow for early detection of any issues or adjustments that may be needed.

Promptly Address Concerns

If you experience any discomfort, pain, or concerns with your dentures or mini implants, it’s important to seek professional advice promptly.

While mini implants are generally safe, it is important to be aware of potential risks and complications. These may include infectionimplant failure, gum irritation, or damage to adjacent teeth or structures. However, with proper assessment, treatment planning, and follow-up care, these risks can be minimized.

Mini implants for upper dentures cost

The cost of mini implants for dentures can vary depending on several factors. On average, the prices for this procedure range from $500 to $1500. It’s worth noting that the cost may differ between urban and rural areas, with prices in rural areas generally being more affordable.

Several factors can influence the cost, including:

  • Affordability of the materials used in the procedure
  • The type of anesthesia required during the procedure. Local anesthesia is typically used for mini implant placement, but in some cases, additional sedation options may be preferred, which could increase the cost.
  • The duration and complexity of the procedure are other factors to consider. While mini implant placement is generally less involved compared to traditional implants and does not typically require a bone graft, the complexity of the case and any additional treatments needed can impact the cost.

Since the upper arch requires more mini implants, the cost will tend to be on the higher side ($1500) for upper dentures. That said, they are generally more cost-effective than traditional implants since they do not typically require a bone graft. This can contribute to a lower overall cost for the procedure.

Who is the right candidate for Mini Implants?

Not all individuals may be suitable candidates for mini implants. Factors such as overall oral health, bone density, and medical history are considered when determining candidacy. Dental professionals will evaluate these factors and provide personalized recommendations based on each individual’s unique situation.

Generally, mini implant dentures may be recommended for individuals who meet certain criteria:

  1. Sufficient bone density: Adequate bone structure is necessary to support the mini implants. However, mini implants require less bone density compared to traditional implants, making them a viable option for individuals with some bone loss.
  2. Good oral health: Candidates should have good oral hygiene and be free from active gum disease or other oral infections. It’s important to address any existing oral health issues before considering mini implant dentures.
  3. General health considerations: Overall health is an important factor in determining candidacy. Certain medical conditions or medications may affect the success of the procedure. A thorough evaluation of medical history and a discussion with the dental professional are crucial.
  4. Commitment to oral hygiene: Candidates for mini implant dentures should be willing to maintain proper oral hygiene practices, including regular brushing, flossing, and routine dental check-ups. Good oral hygiene helps ensure the long-term success and longevity of the mini implant dentures.
  5. Personal preferences: Individual preferences and expectations play a role in determining candidacy for mini implant dentures. It’s essential to have a thorough discussion with the dentist to understand the potential benefits and limitations of mini implant dentures and to align them with your expectations.

In cases where mini implants may not be suitable, alternative options for denture stability can be explored. This may include conventional dental implants, implant-supported dentures, or other specialized techniques. Dental professionals can discuss these alternatives and help individuals make informed decisions about their denture stability options.

Final Thoughts

The decision between using mini implants or standard dental implants for supporting dentures should be made in consultation with your dentist or oral surgeon. They will assess your specific oral condition, functional needs, and preferences to determine the most suitable treatment approach for you.

Mini implants offer a valuable solution for enhancing the stability and functionality of upper dentures. With improved retention, increased chewing efficiency, and enhanced comfort, individuals can regain their confidence and enjoy a better quality of life.

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  • Editorial team

    A team comprising oral health care professionals, researchers, and professional Writers, striving to impart you with the knowledge to improve your oral health, and that of your loved ones. 

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