Latest Trends in Implant Dentistry

 

dental implant

(copyright) MrGarry

Dental implants have completely revolutionized conventional concepts regarding restorative dentistry, and have undoubtedly become the best restorative option for the missing natural teeth. Not only are they durable, but they are also sufficiently strong to withstand the heavy occlusal forces that are generated within the oral cavity. However, continued research is being carried out worldwide, in order to discover newer techniques and materials for the fabrication of the dental implants. Let’s have a look at the current newest techniques and methods that are being used in implant dentistry.

Implant Dentistry- State of the Art

Rigorous research is being performed in the field of dental materials, especially concerning the dental implants. Following is an overview of the latest trends that are being followed in implant dentistry.

  • Finite Element Analysis (FEA) – in this technique, the structure of the implant and its surrounding bone is broken down into extremely minute three dimensional pieces, or nodes, and the forces and their mechanics are calculated at each individual node. Failure of the dental implants was a common problem in the past, however, with the help of FEA, material scientists and dentists can have an exact idea where excessive forces are being generated, that can lead to the fracture of the implant, and the design is modified accordingly.
  • Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD CAM) – gone are the days when a dentist had to choose from pre-fabricated sizes and shapes of implants. Now, with the help of CAD CAM, a digital imaged of the patient’s dentition is fed into the computer, which in turn suggests a design for the implant. However, this design can also be tweaked by the dentist according to his or her experience. Once the design in approved, the implant is milled using the milling machine in the CAD CAM within minutes. Therefore, now dentists can design their own custom made implants, in addition to maintaining a digital library of the implants which can also be used for future purposes.
  • Electron Microscopy – this high resolution and magnification imaging technique can help in the visualization of the extent of ossoeintegration that has developed between the implant and the surrounding bone. In addition, the composition and the quality of the oxygen layer surrounding the implant can also be visualized without much need for sample preparation.
  • Implants and Nanotechnology – with the help of nanotechnology, various nano-sized surface coatings have been developed for dental implants, that not only improve their bio-compatibility, but also encourage the process of ossoeintegration of the implants. In addition, several nanomaterials have are being tested for use as an implant material.
  • Glass Fiber Reinforced Implants – research is being carried out to use glass fiber reinforced, light cured composites for use as implant materials. The main idea behind this research is that the introduction of glass fibers into dental composites substantially enhance their flexural strength and toughness. Initial in-vitro studies have provided encouraging results, which need to be correlated with in-vivo and animal studies.
  • Micro-casting – the micro-casting techniques involve using a metal melt, which is then cast into a metallic mold, and allows fabrication of dental implants with very fine detail and complex geometries. Advantages of this technique include cost effectiveness, and the ability to manufacture identical implants on an industrial scale.

The amount of research and funding that is being put into the field of implant dentistry signifies that this is just the beginning, and there is a lot more to come. In the future, newer implant materials that are not only safer, but are also more cost-effective, biocompatible and easy to use, are expected to be discovered and used for the fabrication of dental implants.

How I like to present the dental implants to my patients?

Dental-implants

If you were to ask several dentists about what procedures they do recommend in case of tooth loss, most would probably tell you: dental implants. I guess we all agree about the multiple advantages of implants over bridges or removable prosthesis. We can say it is a no-brainer.

Yet, this tooth replacement therapy is somehow the most difficult to propose because most patients are quite scared of the whole implant procedure. To be honest, I perfectly understand the fears from a procedure that look like a really invasive and brutal process. But we know that our patients don’t need to worry, this procedure may look scary but with today’s tools, it is almost painless and easy as ABC.

The thing is we need to educate our patients and present dental implants in layman terms so that they can make an informed decision.

So, to make the discussion with the patient easier, I usually follow some predetermined guidelines that help me to be concise, focused and to get the most of my patients’ attention, which is the case for almost any procedures I need to explain.

Our goal is to make sure we have the full attention of our patients, that’s why I like to follow 4 simple steps.

Once it is obvious dental implants are the way to go for a patient, I explain what this option is about in 4 steps.

1) Definition

In my opinion, the best way to explain a dental implant is to use the analogy of a natural tooth.
A natural tooth has 2 parts: the crown which is visible above the gum line and the root which anchors the tooth through the gum. When you lose a tooth, you lose those 2 elements. To fill the gap, you have the option to either replace only the crown part or both (crown and root). Dental implants enable to replace both because it has a root and a crown. The root, usually made of titanium, is screwed into the jawbone. After 2-4 months, the bone around the root will fuse to it: this will ensure your new tooth is tightly fixed to your jawbone. After this process called integration, an abutment will be placed into the root and will protrude up trough the gum line, and then a crown will be placed on this abutment in the final phase.

I like to keep things simple and don’t go into details about the immediate loading, the titanium vs zirconia etc, my aim is to let the patient have a general understanding of the procedure to start with. Note that I often suggest my patients to get more information on some other websites that deal with dental implants. There are tons of it. One that I like is beautysetter. It is a new general website about plastic surgery and dentistry, run by a friend of mine so I am a bit biased. For those who prefer tumblr, beautysetter.com also has one.
The reason why I kept asking my patients to check information on other websites is simple; I want my patients to know that there is nothing to hide and that they can then get back to me to ask any questions they want. this a good way to build trust. Of course, there is always the risk that your patient might pick another dentist, but if they do, it simply means I need to work on some other parts of my “package”.

2) Pain

Right after the definition/ procedure, I know the pain is a concern I want to deal with quickly so I can keep my patient focused on the following parts of my mini “presentation” because this pain issue can create a mental block that can prevent the patient from being totally focused on me.

Dental implant surgery is a quick, outpatient procedure that can be performed under local anaesthesia so, it will be as painless and comfortable as possible. If you are really stressed, just keep in mind we have several additional conscious sedation techniques.

Once the pain issue is resolved and your patient is all ears, you can list the 4 main benefits that make implants such a perfect choice.

3) Benefits/cons

– Dental implants totally replace the root and the crown of the tooth you lost.
– It avoids premature bone loss by keeping your jawbone stimulated in the missing tooth area, and also maintains the integrity of the surrounding teeth.
– You don’t need to change your dental care routine, as implants behaves exactly like normal tooth
– Implants will often last a lifetime which is not always the case with bridges or partials etc….

Once you gave those 4 main benefits, you can talk about the cost which is the main con.. but you can do it with confidence because the cost will be better accepted owing to those advantages.

4) Cost

I don’t talk about prices in the beginning because if I do, the patient won’t even listen to you any longer, the price should not be a focal point that will shut your patient’s ears…. That’s why, in my opinion, prices should be given at the end.

Here again, we know patients will check prices elsewhere, so I show patients articles about what dental implants costs, that give the range of implant prices. Here again, you can show a chart you made but I prefer a document or a website made by a third party.

This range of prices enables me to explain to my patients why I am not the cheapest dentist (I prefer to discuss the price issue right form the start so that the patient won’t be surprised if he or she gets cheaper quotations with other fellow dentists… If you don’t, chances are the patient won’t come back…)
Here comes your pitch about your years of experience, the material you use, your services etc…. you can also propose the payment options you can offer, the packages etc….

The secret is in my humble opinion to anticipate the patient’s issues or questions and make sure your patient is always in relaxed state of mind, which fosters full understanding.

I strongly believe in direct, honest and clear communication, this is the best way to establish excellent relationships with your patients and create loyalty.