When to spend and how to save to keep your choppers intact — Q&A with a Kenmore dentist

Following are questions asked of Kenmore dentist Leo S. Henrichsen.

Following are questions asked of Kenmore dentist Leo S. Henrichsen.

Q: I have been seeing advertisements for a less-expensive implant called a mini-implant. Are these any good?

Several years ago, the Madison Avenue ad boys were big on the word “mini.” Mini-facelift, mini-tummy tuck, Mini-Cooper (which is really a BMW), Mini-Me, from Austin Powers fame, etc. Today, the “hip” catch phrase is “nano,” which is even smaller than mini, but I digress.

Mini-implants are very thin diameter metal, screw-like pins that are used mainly for temporary use like with braces for extra support or temporary retention, but not for permanent support of crowns or dentures. There are smaller diameter implants that can be used in narrow areas of the mouth or in certain patients who do not have enough width of bone to place larger diameter implants.

In my opinion, with more than 20 years in the “tooth biz,” I have seen products and techniques come and go (similar to fads such as the Pet Rock and leg warmers). I feel mini-implants have very limited uses. For patients with minimal bone who need to secure a loose full lower denture, a smaller diameter implant, but not a mini-implant, may be used. One needs to understand that mini-implants are not a long-term solution. I personally do not recommend attaching any permanent crowns, bridges or over denture to mini-implants. Save these tasks for traditional implants.

Q: How can I “recession proof” my mouth to prevent having to spend a lot of money on needed dental work in the future?

Now is the time to get your choppers into your favorite tooth doctor to get the latest in preventive dental care. I am amazed at how many people, even physicians, do not visit the dentist just because “nothing hurts.”

Get a set of X-rays to rule out any need for urgent work, have your hygienist do a cleaning and apply fluoride varnish to your teeth (yes, even if you are an adult). This will make your enamel more resistant to the acids that combine with bacteria to form decay.

Have the hygienist thoroughly clean your teeth and irrigate your gums with a prescription rinse of Peridex (chlorohexidine), killing those bone-dissolving, gum-destroying buggers (bacteria) as needed.