Innovative concept links computer technologies to increase precision and maintain dental implant success rate

By applying an innovative concept that links computer technologies in a totally virtual execution, a Boston, Mass., dental team has increased the precision of dental implant placement and reduced the number of patient visits required for an implant, while maintaining a success rate of 100%, they reported at the 28th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Osseointegration.

TAMPA, FL, March 8 — By applying an innovative concept that links computer technologies in a totally virtual execution, a Boston, Mass., dental team has increased the precision of dental implant placement and reduced the number of patient visits required for an implant, while maintaining a success rate of 100%, they reported at the 28th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Osseointegration (AO).

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Most current techniques take three to four visits to place a dental implant. The new virtual method completes the process in just two visits.

“It’s all virtual. We take two images: A 3D image shows the patient’s teeth and gums in great detail. A CT scan shows what lies underneath, where the teeth join the jawbone. We marry these two images and other digital data in the computer,” explains Dr. Paul A. Schnitman, the Boston team leader, working with his two Harvard University advanced graduate students, Drs. Rita K. Han and Chie Hayashi.

“A template created in the computer model allows us to place the implant through the gums exactly where we want it,” he says.

The technologies are not entirely new. “The new part here is marrying these technologies to make the tooth and complete the process in just two visits. We didn’t see why we shouldn’t be able to generate a tooth from this, so we went to the companies involved to get their cooperation. Now, we take the digital file and put it into the special milling machine to make the tooth,” Dr. Schnitman says.

All of the information is gathered on the first visit. Next, a virtual tooth from a library is selected, positioned, and shaped into the empty space. On the second visit, the patient returns for guided implant surgery with an immediate provisional tooth.

A study by the Boston team of 26 consecutively treated patients who received 66 implants using their guided method were followed from 12 to 292 weeks. The overall survival rate of their implants is 100%, the study found. Though the two-visit process is too new to be included in the study, they expect it to show similar results.

The Academy’s Annual Meeting will be held March 7-9 at the Tampa Convention Center. Complete program information is available through the Academy’s Website.

With more than 6,000 members in 70 countries around the world, the Academy of Osseointegration's goal is to advance the field of osseointegrated implants by fostering collaboration between representatives of different dental disciplines — oral surgery, periodontics, prosthodontics, and general practice — through clinical and evidence-based research and education.

Founded in 1985, it provides a focus for the rapidly advancing biotechnology involving the natural bond between bone and certain alloplastic reconstructive materials. In dentistry, the primary application is replacing missing teeth by affixing a titanium implant into the jawbone, then securing an artificial tooth into the implant that will look, feel and function like a natural tooth.

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