Bone loss around dental implants is far more common than previously realised, reveals a thesis from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Around a quarter of patients loose some degree of supporting bone around their implants.
The study analysed X-rays of over 600 patients. The more implants a patient had in the jaw, the more common it was to find loss of supporting bone. Just over a quarter - 28 per cent - of patients had lost some degree of supporting bone around their implants.
"Contrary to what we had previously assumed, the bone loss in these patients was not linear, but instead accelerated with time," says consultant dental surgeon Christer Fransson, who wrote the thesis. "This is a new discovery that shows just how important it is to detect and treat bone loss around implants at an early stage."
Smoking is one of several factors that increase the risk of bone loss. In the study smokers had more implants with bone loss than non-smokers.
The thesis also shows that the soft tissues surrounding an implant with bone loss is often inflamed.
"It's important to examine the tissues around implants in the same way as we examine the tissues around teeth," says Fransson. "In that way we can notice early signs of inflammation and treat it before the bone loss has any serious consequences."
Hundreds of thousands of Swedes have dental implants, which are a type of artificial tooth root made from titanium. A surgical procedure is carried out to insert a titanium screw into the jawbone, where it integrates and forms a base for crowns, bridges or prostheses. There are several types of titanium implants, but all are based on the finding that titanium has an unique property to integrate with the bone. The method was pioneered by professor Per-Ingvar Brånemark at the Sahlgrenska Academy during the 1960s.