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More than four out of ten patients who received dental implants suffered complications within a nine-year period, these are the results of a thesis presented at the University of Gothenburg.

In Sweden, more than 30 000 patients receive implant-supported restorative therapy (treatment with dental implants to replace lost teeth) on an annual basis. Good long-time results have been reported, but different types of complications can occur. These complications may affect the tissues surrounding the implant, the implant itself or the implant-supported reconstruction.

Karolina Karlsson, buspar for bruxism a dentist specialized in periodontics and a Ph.D. at the Institute of Odontology at Sahlgrenska Academy, has in her thesis evaluated the frequency, consequences and cost of such complications.

The research was part of a national project conducted as a population-based field study. It was based on randomly selected patients from the registry of the Swedish Social Insurance Agency. Initially, dental records and radiographs from 2,765 adult patients were assessed. Of these, 596 individuals were clinically examined, nine years after their treatment with dental implants.

The results showed that 42 percent of the patients suffered from at least one complication. The most common type was technical complications, which were mostly isolated phenomena. The strongest risk factor was the extent of the implant-supported reconstruction.

Peri-implantitis, a condition characterized by inflammation in the mucosa and bone loss around the implant, was the second most common complication. Treating peri-implantitis by non-surgical methods alone, in the form of professional cleaning and instructions on oral hygiene, proved to be insufficient. Additional surgical treatment however, was able to prevent further progression of the disease.

Implant loss was the type of complication resulting in the highest total cost.

Replacing lost teeth with dental implants is a common treatment option in dentistry. It is important for care-givers and patients to have a good understanding of the individual risk for complications in order to develop effective preventive strategies.

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