Dental implant failure
The report comes with sobering numbers
More than half of dental procedures have failed for the first time within the first two years of treatment, and the rate of failure climbs exponentially beyond that. About a quarter of the implantations do not last more than seven years, and 30 to 40 percent are never approved for renewal or repeat procedures. Of the nearly 1 million implants done each year, roughly 8 percent to 9 percent fail or require additional surgeries, according to the report.
Some experts are reluctant to predict long-term failure because there is not sufficient data to make such a claim.
“Until the data are better than what we have, it is irresponsible to make any generalization,” said Martin Belshaw, professor of oral surgery at Vanderbilt University, who focuses on implant dentistry. “Dental implantation is an empirical procedure.”
Why it works
Many experts point to the combination of both dental expertise and sophisticated materials as key ingredients to their success.
“You need the intelligence, the technology and the dental expertise to figure out the material, and dental expertise to build the implant,” Belshaw said.
Simply put, dentists like that dental materials are engineered specifically to improve and maintain a patient’s teeth. Over time, the implants are designed to dissolve into the jawbone. While these materials are described as ceramic, their manufacturing process is actually in stainless steel, Belshaw said. The structures are also designed to provide both strength and flexibility, he said.
Dental implants are a more complex engineering task than many other implants, which are made of the same materials used in dental prosthetics, such as braces, said David Fussell, director of the dental implant division at Ohio State University.
The structures of dental implants tend to be more consistent, he said, because the dental materials are simply designed to fit into the jawbone. The structures are designed to fit into a patient’s oral cavity.
Some dental experts say that dental implants may succeed more quickly and thoroughly because dental materials are inherently stronger and more durable than implants designed to help a patient’s bones or teeth.
“The material strength and the ability of the material to resist stress on the surface of the implant has more of an impact on the success of dental implants,” Ed Edelmeyer, a spokesman for the American Dental Association, said in an interview.