No matter how advanced they have become, dental treatments are not without their failures. Even for a procedure as common as a dental implant, patients should recognise the difference between guaranteed standards and guaranteed results. Dentists can offer the former, but can only strive for the latter. After all, tooth implants are only as good as the bones into which they are inserted.
The key to successful dental implant treatment is osseointegration or the organic connection between the bone and the implant itself. Multiple factors determine whether osseointegration can occur and if it can take place at a sufficient level. Numerous studies have explored the specific conditions or medications that may prompt successful osseointegration for recipients of dental implants. Knowledge of the biological process of osseointegration is limited since it was only recently discovered by Swedish orthopaedic surgeon Per-Ingvar Brånemark. Still, there is sufficient data regarding the growth, healing and death of bone cells to point the medical community towards the answers for which they are looking.
Bone metabolism, the lifelong process where mature bone tissue undergoes resorption and new bone tissue takes its place, is a key factor in osseointegration. Dentists hope that they will be able to use this process to insert tooth implants that will conform to the patient’s bone structure and will integrate after resorption takes place. A study found that the consumption of hypertension remedies or beta blocker drugs is conducive to osseointegration. Dentists from the Hertfordshire-based Bow House a Centre of Dental Excellence note that tooth implants do have a higher chance of integrating with patients’ bones when beta blocker drugs are taken before and after treatment. They cite the study’s findings on implant failure rates, which is significantly higher for people who do not take beta blockers (4.1 per cent) than for those who do (0.6 per cent). An opposite pattern exists for tooth implant failure rates among patients who use heartburn medication (6.8 per cent) as opposed to those who do not (3.2 per cent). There are currently few measures that patients can implement to aid the process of osseointegration, but with research efforts in full swing and demand for tooth implants on the rise, it may not be long before patients receive implants with a 100 per cent success rate.