When it comes to tooth replacement, dental implants are the final word. While there are certainly other options, only dental implants are fastened to the jaw bone, just like real teeth, allowing for you to keep your diet and oral healthcare routine the same. And best of all, they can last for more than 30 years!
All of these benefits are what make dental implants so popular, but researchers still see room for improvement. That’s why more and more research is being done into different ways to reduce the failure rate of implants.
How Dental Implants Work
Dental implants work so well because they function almost exactly like your real teeth. Just like a real tooth, a dental implant has a “root” that allows the tooth to be supported by the jaw bone. Most dental implants utilize titanium, which is widely used in biomedical applications because of its high biocompatibility. Titanium is not only resistant to corrosion, which is imperative in a harsh environment like the human body, but also has the unique ability to osseointegrate.
Osseointegration refers to the process of bone connecting directly to the surface of the implant, effectively anchoring it in the jaw. Once a dental implant is osseointegrated, it has the same strength as a real tooth.
The success rate of dental implants is extremely high — as high as 98.4% by some reports — but there are rare cases where dental implants fail to osseointegrate. Researchers at the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country in northern Spain are trying to change that.
Antibacterial Coatings Could Save Implants
Although there are varied reasons that dental implants might fail, mouth infections are the most common cause. And while antibiotics can be administered to dental implant patients to reduce the risk of or treat mouth infection, there is always the risk of bacteria strains developing antibiotic resistance. This is why the UPV/EHU research team was eager to instead develop an antibacterial dental implant coating that could head off the problem.
The team saw positive results with sol-gel synthesis, which is a process in which a gel is heat-treated to adhere to the surface of an implant. They started with a base of silica, which has osteoinductive properties. Osteoinductive materials can attract and trigger bone-forming cells, leading to faster and stronger bone growth around the implant. Then, the team added antibacterial agents to the gel.
The researchers developed three variations on their coated implant. One has a long degradation time to prevent bacteria from adhering to the implant, and one has a short degradation time so that the implant can attack an existing infection by dispensing antibacterial agents. The third, which will be especially impactful for those who have already gotten implants, is designed to be used on an already infected implant without that implant needing to be extracted from the patient.
This research is big news for the dental implant world, and could bring dental implants’ already low failure rate even lower. Of course, it will be years before this technology is available for use in your local dentist’s office. Luckily, dental implants are already a safe, effective option for replacing lost teeth. Please call (02) 9686 7375 or contact us online to make an appointment at My Hills Dentist in Baulkham Hills to see if you’re a good candidate for dental implants in the Sydney area.