For over 25 million Americans without teeth, struggling with dentures, some recent research may give them something to smile about.
Traditionally, synthetic bone grafts were thought to need a minimum of six months in order to become secure enough for successful placement of titanium implants. But a study published in February, 2014, in the Journal of Oral Implantology concluded that these grafts may only actually require three months of healing before implantation can take place.
Researchers in Germany compared replacement procedures on patients who waited three months with procedures on patients who waited six months, using radiological and clinical follow-ups three years after the implantations. They found no discernible difference in the two groups in the follow-up research.
So what does this mean for patients who need synthetic grafts in order to receive implants?
Dental implants are small titanium posts which are surgically placed into the jawbone to act as a replacement root for a synthetic tooth. However, due to a variety of factors (age, smoking, length of time the tooth has been missing, etc.), some patients may not have a strong enough jawbone to securely hold the implant, and may require bone grafting to strengthen the site.
Implantation into a healthy jawbone is a two-stage process. In the first procedure, the implant is inserted into the jawbone. The patient must then wait six-to-12 months while the bone secures the implant in place. A second procedure completes the process.
For patients whose jawbone isn’t thick enough or strong enough to securely hold an implant, a third procedure is required — the bone graft.
“Research is progressing well, and always challenging the boundaries,” explains Dr. Saj Jivraj, BDS at the Anacapa Dental Art Institute. “We look forward to long-term results on studies like this and hope to see additional studies come out.”