More and more practices offer implant dentistry as part of their core services.
The popularity of implants has soared in the UK and the market is expected to see explosive growth over the next decade.[i] Half-a-million adults now have at least one dental implant[ii] and they offer a long lasting restoration solution for a great number of patients. However, dental implants represent a relatively substantial financial investment and over the last five years there has been an upward trend in complaints and compensation claims involving implant treatment. [iii] Unrealistic expectations are often found among implant patients, which can lead to dissatisfaction with final outcomes.[iv] Therefore, it is vitally important to select and manage implant patients well.
Fortunately for the industry, increased patient demand and expectations have been matched with continually evolving developments in implant dentistry. It has seen unprecedented levels of research and rapid technological advances to ease the delivery of treatment, make it more cost effective and to further simplify procedures to reduce the time duration of implant therapy. Efforts to make improvements at every stage are constantly progressing; from diagnosis, digital imaging, treatment planning, surgical procedures, grafting materials and techniques as well as implant designs to make it more possible to treat a greater number of clinical scenarios.
Every implant case requires meticulous planning, careful surgical procedures and, a significant range of variables for the dental professionals carrying out the treatment. As a result, practitioners must give patients clear, consistent guidance and explain the benefits of implant treatment as well as the alternatives. Patients need to be aware of the risks and complications that could occur and it should be emphasised that replacing a tooth with an implant does not mean that any further dental problems will be eliminated. As dental professionals will be aware, placing implants depends on a number of factors, including the density and dimension of the bone surrounding the implant, successful osseointegration and implant stability. But, ultimately the success and longevity of the implant requires the patient to commit to fastidious levels of oral hygiene, post procedure monitoring, regular assessments and on-going maintenance measures.
Each patient must be properly assessed for implant therapy suitability before a carefully formulated, comprehensive treatment plan is completed. A successful outcome relies on a team of professionals including general dental professionals, restorative dentists, implant surgeons and dental technicians, all working collectively to implement the patient’s implant treatment and aftercare. A comprehensive set of skills is required with specific technology and digital imaging equipment designed to plan and execute implant treatment accurately and to ensure optimal placement.
There are now many dentists that are suitably trained and competent to carry out implant dentistry. Nevertheless, dentists undertaking implant work should ensure that they are able to confidently visualise the end result and confirm that each treatment stage is predicable with no aesthetic or anatomical risk factors. It is also critical for all dentists to recognise the limits of their clinical skills and to make a suitable referral when faced with a complex case that is beyond their experience or technical ability. For complex cases it is better to offer a referral to a dedicated practice such as London Smile Clinic, a centre of excellence, where a team of highly trained dentists will work closely and collaboratively with the referring dentist to deliver the best possible results for patients.
Dental implants are undoubtedly the best treatment choice for many patients. However, dental practices need to prepare patients well and use a collaborative approach for success and patient satisfaction.
[i] iData Reserch. Europe Markets for Dental Implants, Final Abutments and Computer Guided Surgery 2015 – MedSuite. https://www.idataresearch.com/product/europe-markets-for-dental-implants-final-abutments-and-computer-guided-surgery-2015-medsuite/ [Accessed 23rd August 2016]
[ii] Adult Dental Health Survey 2009 Health and Social Care Information Centre, published 24 March 2011. http://www.hscic.gov.uk/pubs/dentalsurveyfullreport09 [Accessed 23rd August 2016]
[iii] Leo Briggs. June 2015. Claims for dental implants rise by 41 per cent. DDU Journal. http://www.theddu.com/press-centre/press-releases/claims-for-dental-implants-rise-by-41-per-cent [Accessed 23rd August 2016]
[iv] Jie Yao et al. Patients’ expectations from dental implants: a systematic review of literature. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2014 12:153
DOI: 10.1186/s12955-014-0153-9. http://hqlo.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12955-014-0153-9 [Accessed 23rd August 2016]
Dr Tim Bradstock-Smith is principal of the London Smile Clinic, an award-winning centre of excellence in dentistry that is based in Central London. The Clinic offers an extensive range of services, which include specialist orthodontics, implant dentistry and dentures.