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For more than 30 years, root form implants have been used with success in the treatment of edentulous patients. Typically, these implants have ranged in size from (approximately) 3.75mm to 4mm in diameter and 14mm+ in length. Grafting procedures are often necessary to accommodate their placement, making implant dentistry beyond the reach of some patients who cannot undergo the requisite ridge augmentation for physical (e.g., those with serious medical problems, using anti-coagulant therapy) or even financial reasons.
Small-diameter implants, referred to by some as "mini-implants", have been a more recent introduction to implant dentistry. With a diameter of approximately 1.8mm to 3mm, these implants were originally used as transitional support for fixed and removable prostheses while standard-diameter implants osseointegrated.[2,3] While the minis were generally removed at the end of provisionalization, these small-diameter implants achieved the same level of bone-to-implant contact as did conventional implants and thus were approved for long-term use.
Small-diameter implants, as less expensive alternatives to conventional implants, can generally be placed with minimal invasiveness and often loaded immediately. This can significantly increase their utility for patients who are unable to select treatment with conventional-diameter implant--thus removing an important barrier (i.e., cost) to care. Consequently, dentists--and those of you aspiring dental professionals--have the ability to offer implant treatment options to patients who would not be able to pursue implant therapy with standard-diameter implants.
How you envision small-diameter implants meshing with Medicaid patients? With members of your community who are financially challenged to consider "optimal" therapy? We're looking forward to your thoughts!
The NEXT DDS