March 15, 2019
by Katharine Gammon, University of Southern California
Three million people in the United States currently have dental implants, and every year that number increases by about 500,000.
But, for some, getting a dental implant is not the end of the story. Similar to what occurs with a natural tooth, bacteria can build up on the implant‘s base and below the gum line. Over time, the bacteria can cause peri-implantitis, a condition that can eventually lead to the loss of soft and hard tissue (gums and bone) surrounding the implant.
It’s a condition that typically requires surgical intervention.
Implants were originally designed for a small population, and they were considered experimental, Professor Malcolm Snead says. “There has been a major change in the way dentists use implants, and now implants are widely used to replace teeth with a poor prognosis.” However, the implant is just as susceptible to biofilm formation and the patient’s immune response, which attempts to limit the infection but also leads to the loss of supporting hard and soft tissues.
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