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Thursday, 10 October, 2002, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
A new set of teeth in a day
Implants - (pic - South West News Service)
Mini-implants (l) are smaller than the standard ones
Dental patients may soon be able to get a whole new set of teeth in one day.

A handful of dentists in the UK are offering mini dental implants, which they say are smaller, cheaper and easier to fit than the older type.

And those pioneering the technique say more dentists will be able to offer patients the mini implants because, unlike the traditional type, they do not require complex surgery.

Mini implants were developed by scientists in the US.


Not everyone who has missing teeth requires implants

Dr Gordon Watkins, British Dental Association
Titanium pegs, no bigger than the width of a matchstick are placed into tiny perforations in the gum, made under general anaesthetic.

The peg is then used as a "root".

Patients can have just a single tooth fitted, or a whole set, in one day.

'No pain'

When standard implants are fitted, the dentist has to cut away gum tissue and peel it away from the bone before screwing in the implants - which can be up to a quarter of an inch wide.

Patients then have to wait six months before teeth can be attached to the implants.

The mini implants cost a maximum of 18,000, compared to 40,000 for the standard treatment.

X-ray (pic - South West News Service)
A patient with the standard implants
Tariq Idris is one UK dentist offering mini implants.

Dr Idris, who has clinics in Chester and London, told BBC News Online: "For the patient, it takes far less time, and there's virtually no pain afterwards, compared to standard implants."

Dr Indris said the implants were an alternative for people who needed false teeth fitting.

"People have got to get used to false teeth. They are loose, with nothing to secure them.

"They can feel very unnatural, and people can feel embarrassed.

"And when people lose teeth, the bone starts to shrink away. People don't like that because their face can change shape.

"Implants can stabilise teeth and stabilise bone."

"The mini implants are a lot less complex in the way that we fit them.

"Traditionally, you had to be very adept at complex surgery to really approach this technique - only 5% of dentists can carry out standard implant treatment.

"This is like normal dentistry, with local anaesthetic, and it's very, very simple."

Expense

Dr Gordon Watkins, of the British Dental Association, said mini implants were a recent innovation, and research was needed to see how they would stand up to years of use.

He added: "Not everyone who has missing teeth requires implants and patients may well wish to consider other more economical and long-established treatments before they decide on the expense of implants and the associated surgery.

"They would also be advised to ask their surgeon about the success rate of the treatment that they are being offered in both the short and the long term."

See also:

07 Aug 02 | Health
27 Aug 00 | Health
25 Aug 00 | Science/Nature
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