Small diameter implants, commonly known as mini dental implants, were first used as a temporary implant to support a temporary crown or bridge until the regular implants healed, however, because of the success of these implants, in 1997 the FDA approved these smaller diameter implants (less than 3mm in diameter) for use as a definitive implant for use in final restorations.
Because of the significantly smaller size of these implants, a minimal surgical procedure is needed, hence, very little pain and fast healing is usually the case. Because of their smaller size, these types of implants can be placed into areas of thinner bone, without the necessity of additional bone grafting that may be needed than if regular sized implants were to be placed. Also, medically compromised patients, who may not cope well with conventional implant placement, may do better with this minimal surgical placement technique.
However, because of their significantly smaller size, these implants have less surface area, and thus cannot support loads as well as conventional implants, therefore, their use is limited in cases where there is limited load placed upon these implants. But with proper design and use, these types of implants have a very high success rate, similar to conventional implants in excess of 95%. Some common applications include support for crowns, bridges, and overdentures. Similar to conventional implants, it is possible to immediately place the temporary or final restorations on the same day the implants are placed in many situations.