The dental implant industry expands across the globe year after year. In fact, the dental prosthetic and implant market is expected to exceed $6.4 billion by next year.

More than 10 percent of dentists place implants, though that rate is expected to climb higher, as well. As the dental implant business continues to grow, so do advances in implant technology.

Narrow-body dental implants, which have been effective in restoring bites and smiles since 1986, are being developed to perform many other oral health-related duties.

The advantages of narrow-body dental implants (also called mini dental implants) include a smaller size, which means less jawbone density is required to anchor the entire implant (ideal for older patients). Narrow-body implants can also be implanted in only one appointment, and are overall cheaper than regular dental implants.

Dental implants, until now, have been the method of choice for anchoring heavy-duty prosthetics like bridges or All-on-4 replacements.

Last month, separate cases by Dr. Todd Shatkin and Dr. Ahmed Soolari involving new uses for narrow-body implants were featured in Implant Today. Shatkin's case used narrow-body implants to anchor a partial denture and Soolari's case focused on using narrow-body implants to revitalize the dental health of a patient with periodontitis.

Over the course of his professional career, Shatkin observed how costly and time-consuming the traditional All-on-4 process was. By placing a full arch on four implants, doctors had to wait for patients' jaws to heal, which could take as much as a year at a time.

Instead, Shatkin developed the Fix on Six procedure, in which as few as six narrow-body dental implants are placed to support a semi-permanent full arch. His recent statistics have shown patients heal more quickly, have a reduced treatment time, and the overall cost is 50-66 percent cheaper than the All-on-4 procedure.

Soolari's study found the advantages narrow-body dental implants had for patients recovering from advanced gum disease. He found that difficult cases, including placing anterior mandibular implants in a patient with previously failed implants, were successful when narrow implants were used.

He was able to restore the bite of a patient with multiple abscesses from periodontitis by placing a mini dental implant after multiple hard- and soft-tissue grafts were healed. The smaller size of the implant made it easier to heal and anchor a prosthesis for the patient. He closed his article by advocating for an interdisciplinary approach for complicated problems to address needs succinctly.

As developments continue to streamline approaches to restorative dental healthcare, dentists, endodontists and other oral health professionals can continue to learn from other studies and develop their own. Staying abreast of new techniques in dental implantation can serve professionals well as the field expands and discovers more efficient ways of maintaining oral health needs.