Inside Dentistry
September 2014
Volume 10, Issue 9

Increasing Revenue with Mini Dental Implants

An implant option distinguished by efficiency, efficacy, and patient appeal

Bruce J. Lish, DDS

Mini dental implants can open doors for practices and give dentists an excellent revenue-building tool. Mini implants are affordable and appealing for patients and can help satisfy an often unrecognized, unmet need in the practice. Still, the decision to begin offering implant treatment can often be a complex one for dentists. Before investing in dental implants for a practice, dentists should not only project the demand for the service, but also determine how much of an investment of time and money is needed for equipment and training. As implant technologies change, many dentists are finding the decision to incorporate mini dental implants is simpler to make than they initially thought.

I have been placing mini dental implants since 1996. These implants have since evolved to become 3M™ ESPE™ MDI Mini Dental Im­plants (www.3mespe.com). Although I also place conventional implants, my nearly 20 years of experience with mini dental implants has highlighted the importance of this treatment both in terms of clinical benefits to patients and financial benefits to the practice. After seeing the problem-solving capabilities of these implants, it became clear to me that they should be routinely integrated into my patient treatment planning and care. Today I frequently use these implants for denture stabilization. Their cost effectiveness in both supplies and placement improve the bottom line weekly.

A Simpler Process

Mini dental implants differ from conventional implants in several respects. Available in diameters of 1.8 mm, 2.1 mm, 2.4 mm, and 2.9 mm, 3M ESPE MDIs are self-tapping and auto advancing, allowing the dentist to place them after drilling a small pilot hole to perforate the cortical bone. A minimum of 4.8 mm of bone width is required—significantly less than what is required of conventional implants. With this simple placement procedure and less rigorous demands for patient candidacy, dentists can place mini implants in many cases without cutting a flap or performing bone grafts.

This simplicity translates into lower overhead and startup costs for the practice. The basic placement procedure can be learned quickly, and the only supplies that must be purchased are the startup kit and a surgical console and drill. Many dental products make claims such as, “Treat two cases and it pays for itself!” With mini dental implants, this claim is actually true.

Patient-Pleasing Benefits

Once you begin offering mini dental implants in your practice, you will likely find an enthusiastic patient response. Without the expense of bone grafting and the multi-stage placement and healing process for conventional implants, mini dental implants are typically much more affordable. This can be particularly important for denture patients, many of whom are retired and must budget carefully for elective medical procedures. An additional aspect of mini dental implants that appeals to patients is how quickly they can be placed. Instead of the months-long process to place conventional implants and allow them to osseointegrate, mini dental implants can often be placed and loaded on the same day.

These advantages combined have now made mini dental implants my first recommendation for patients seeking a denture stabilization solution for either full or partial dentures. In my early days with implants, mini implants were seen as a less expensive, alternate option if patients could not afford treatment with conventional implants. However, today I am comfortable offering mini dental implants as a first option for treatment when patients come in with a lower denture that needs improved retention. The mini implants are less invasive, cause less post-operative discomfort, and are more cost effective than the conventional alternatives. I see no reason to create more overhead, spend more time, and have fewer patients be able to afford lower denture implant stabilization. With the mini implants I have lower overhead, spend less treatment time, and have many more patients able to afford the procedure; this translates to an increased bottom line!

When presented with this treatment plan, patients have a much easier time accepting the recommendation. Then, after the implants have been placed and patients experience the difference that mini implants have made in their quality of life, the referrals start coming. Patients in the denture community talk, and I have personally received many referrals from satisfied mini implant patients. The difference in retention between an unstabilized denture and one that is held in place with mini implants is dramatic, and patients are eager to share their experiences with their friends. This has allowed me to grow my practice simply through referrals and word of mouth, with very little advertising or marketing.


Mini dental implants give dentists an affordable and fast route to begin offering implant treatment or to complement their existing implant offerings. The clinical efficacy of these implants, combined with their clear appeal to patients, makes them a valuable tool for growing a practice while improving patients’ lives.

About the Author

Bruce J. Lish, DDS, is director, division of dentistry at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital in New York, New York. He also maintains a busy private practice that focuses on comprehensive family dentistry and routine implant dentistry.

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