Implantology clearly in view
Over the last few years the popularity of dental implants has increased considerably as more practices add implantology to their patient treatment options. As technology moves forward, with advances in operating microscopes, digital radiographs and surgical techniques, dental implants have become more accessible to the modern patient.
In fact, according to the most recent Adult Dental Health Survey, over half a million adults already have at least one dental implant. Recent research also reveals that the European implant market is expected to see significant growth throughout 2015 and global forecasts report that by 2018, Europe will continue to drive forward and dominate the arena of dental implants and prosthetics. There is, therefore, no doubt that implants are popular with both patients and clinicians alike, but where did it all begin?
History of implantology in dentistry
There is archaeological evidence to suggest that humans have attempted to replace missing teeth with various different materials and techniques for thousands of years. Historians in China have found remnants of bamboo that had been utilised to fill the void over 4,000 years ago; and in Ancient Egypt there is archaeological proof that shaped pegs made of precious metal would sometimes be wedged into the gaps created by missing teeth – although these may have been placed after death as part of a ceremonial burial.
It would appear, therefore, that there has been a historical preoccupation with ‘filling the gap’, but it wasn’t until mid-way through the 20th century that clinicians have been able to accomplish this with any medical proficiency.
In 1952, the discovery of osseointegration by Swedish orthopaedic surgeon Per-Ingvar Brånemark brought forth a revolution in dentistry. Initially the understanding that titanium could be bonded to human bone was aimed at enhancing developments in knee and hip surgery. However, the mouth was believed to be more accessible and the comparatively higher rate of endentulism in the general populace provided a greater number of patients for clinical study.
This soon led to the advancement of dental implantology and in 1965 the first titanium implant was successfully carried out, setting the course for many thousands, if not millions of subsequent treatments worldwide. But, it wasn’t until the 1980s that dental implants would see acceptance and approval throughout the dental industry. Today there are approximately 10,000 mandibular dental implant procedures carried out each year in the UK.
The implant procedure
Although recently there has been a rise in ‘same-day’ implant treatments, the implant procedure itself tends to be significantly longer and can be crudely broken down into three stages. The first consists of diagnosis and treatment planning, followed by surgically burying the implant. In the second stage the surgeon checks the implant for its successful integration and connects the abutment that penetrates through the gum into the oral cavity. The final stage consists of connecting the final prosthetic restoration to the successfully osseointegrated implants.
Technological developments, such as advances in surgical microscopes, have helped to make dental implantology an increasingly predictable treatment option. From the initial examination and diagnosis to successful conclusion, throughout the entire process the use of enhanced magnification and visualisation equipment is crucial to achieving optimum outcomes. This allows the practitioner to reliably detect important microscopic anatomical structures, vital to performing any stage of the implant procedure.
Surgical microscopes, such as the Carl Zeiss OPMI Pico dental microscope, allow clinicians to conduct high-precision examinations and implant treatments quickly and confidently. When equipped with either LED or xenon illumination, it allows anatomical details to appear in true colour, facilitating easy tissue differentiation. The handling of delicate tissue can also be performed much more accurately and sutures can be placed with enhanced precision.
The Carl Zeiss OPMI Pico microscope is available in the UK from Nuview and comes with the latest built-in camera systems and factory-aligned optics that allow practitioners to stream, monitor and record any stage of implant treatment. Such recordings can then be used for training, patient record keeping and future reference and reveal a true commitment to the highest standards and level of service to the patient.
Spurred on by the developments in surgical techniques, implant design and advances in technology, the possibility of providing a more permanent solution for edentulous patients is one that many practitioners welcome. Utilising the latest visualisation equipment provides more consistency for implant procedures and will aid clinicians in achieving the finest treatment results.