In an interview with the British Dental Journal, Professor Jan Lindhe, an internationally-respected periodontologist and dental implant expert said, “there is an overuse of implants” in dentistry. Does this mean that we are facing, as some tabloids advertise, an international dental implant crisis? Are people putting themselves at risk by getting dental implants?
Not at all. As usual tabloid claims are overblown, and it’s important to read Dr. Lindhe’s comments in context.
Dr. Lindhe’s comments came in response to a question about whether we know enough about the long-term stability and safety of dental implants. His response was unequivocal: “We know first of all that implants work very well, and in most patients, most implants function year after year without any problem.” He then concedes that some patients do have problems with dental implants, but compares this to problems with other prostheses. He then notes that it’s impressive how successful and how long-lasting dental implants are.
Dr. Lindhe’s comments are backed up by studies of dental implants. In a 20-year follow-up of 48 dental implant patients who received their implants in the 1980s, 99.2% of dental implants were still in place. Among the 29 survivors, that is, since 19 of the patients were deceased by the time of follow-up. For those patients, most of their implants had lasted them the rest of their lives.
Admittedly, this is an unusually high rate of survival, but this other 20-year follow-up shows a 91% survival rate, which is probably a more reasonable expectation.
So if dental implants are truly so great a technology, why would Dr. Lindhe say they are being overused? Dr. Lindhe’s only regret is that “many dentists find it easier to remove a tooth and place an implant than to use the data in the literature to treat the tooth for its conditions.” In other words, dental implants are so good that dentists aren’t using as many root canals and other treatments to preserve natural teeth, which, as good as dental implants are, is actually still a better option.
However, it’s understandable that in some cases patients are eager to get rid of a problematic tooth, which can influence decision-making. And with dental implants being a very good treatment, too, it makes sense that dentists would also be willing to use them rather than going through the potentially complicated endodontic treatment.
Overall, though, as long as dental implants give such high success rates, there is no need to be too concerned that they might be overused.
If you have a tooth that needs restoration or replacement, we can help you decide on the best treatment for you. Please call 509-368-7788 for an appointment with a Spokane cosmetic dentist at Collins Dentistry & Aesthetics today.
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