Dental implants have been a highly popular procedure for those who may have lost teeth and have needed them replaced. In the past this procedure may have been a lifesaver for patients who thought that the dental implant was the best option for their specific tooth loss situation. But at times this procedure can come with a few drawbacks.
Dental implants, though necessary for many, can often cause the patient some pain. In many cases patients cannot chew solid food properly for as long as six months. The problem with the current system is that the implant does not properly fix to the bone for some time and this causes pain and difficulty in chewing. But this common occurrence among dental implant patients may soon change as a new drug coating for implants may be released.
The drug coating has already been tested on humans which could mean a market release in the near future. The coating is applied to the dental implants and it enables the titanium in the implants to adhere to a patient’s bone much faster, and most importantly, much stronger. This could mean a faster recovery for patients so they can get back to eating like they used toin no time.
The study was highlighted in the British Medical Journal but was originally published in the journal Bone by Per Aspenberg, a professor of orthopaedic surgery at Linköping University.
The Linköping University is located in Sweden, and is where the research for the new coating took place. The coating they developed is characterized by the nanometer-thin layer of protein that is the key to the technology functioning properly. This protein adheres to the metal screws used to attach the dental implants and allows the bone to be more receptive to the titanium. It is noteworthy that the protein layer is attached to a bisphosphonate. Bisphosphonates are typically used as a drug for treating the bone density loss condition of osteoporosis. In animals the bisphosphonates have been shown in studies to force bone that surrounds the implant to rapidly gain density and strength.
But now that the study has been duplicated with human subjects researchers hope that there is a chance in the near future for the new technology to be approved for release. Researchers tested new implants on two different groups of patients. One group of patients received traditional implants and the other group received implants with the protein rich drug coating. The study was a double blind, meaning neither patients nor researchers knew which patients had been given the protein and which had been given the traditional implants.
The results of the study found no complications for any of the patients treated. The vast majority of the patients who had received treated implants showed a remarkable difference in the strength of the implant compared to patients who had received traditional implants. Those with treated implants began to show an increase in the strength of their hold within two months of the procedure.
“It is the first time ever anyone has succeeded in reinforcing the bone around an implant with localised medication”, said Per Aspenberg. The professor was the first to create the method of using bisphosphonates in this way.
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