This is an actual text message I received from a patient: I am freaking out, Dr. Froum; the implant you put in my mouth fell out two weeks ago … fell out … and I am on a cruise. What should I do? PLEASE HELP!!!
This scenario has happened many times. I used to immediately call the patient, put him or her on antibiotics, and schedule an emergency visit to try to prevent soft-tissue collapse after implant exfoliation. But my triage has changed.
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I now calmly tell the patient to send me a picture via text of the "implant that has fallen out," especially if it was placed with a healing abutment. As you can guess, nine times out of 10, the implant turns out to be a healing abutment usually caused by noncompliance with postop instructions to have a soft food diet. The text or phone call to reassure the patient that it is not the implant—only the abutment—will be the best call he or she receives that week! Try it.
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Scott Froum, DDS, is a periodontist in private practice in New York City. He is the editorial director of Perio-Implant Advisory e-newsletter, as well as a contributing author for DentistryIQ and Dental Economics. Dr. Froum is a clinical associate professor at the New York University Dental School in the Department of Periodontology and Implantology. Contact him through his website at www.drscottfroum.com.