Communication Crucial to Successful Dental Care

A new British study has highlighted the importance of patient/dentist relations, especially in terms of detecting signs of trouble. According to a recent article from Fox News, researchers questioned 75 people who had received dental implants over the previous year. They asked if they had complications such as bleeding, pus or loose replacement-tooth “roots,” fully expecting that clinicians would catch problems that the patients missed. Surprisingly though, that was not what happened.

Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that are typically made of titanium. They are inserted into the jaw bone and are then attached to a crown. The implant functions like a normal tooth and can help preserve the jaw structure and prevent bone loss, unlike alternative replacement methods, such as bridgework or dentures. Approximately 3 million people in the U.S. have dental implants, and according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, another 500,000 are placed each year. While they are very safe, with any surgery there will be risks. Damage to blood vessels, nerves, sinuses or other teeth can develop, as well as a more serious condition known as peri-implantitis. This bacterial infection can lead to inflammation around the post and bone loss.

One of the hypotheses  examined in the study was the belief that patients can’t perceive the difference between successful and unsuccessful implants. Participants were patients who had received implants from one of two dentists at the practice within the previous year.  They each completed a questionnaire and had an exam to determine if their responses lined up with what clinicians found in the exam. Researchers focused on five areas of post-implant health: loose restorations, aesthetics, bleeding or pus, fractured implants and occlusion, when the upper and lower teeth collide when the mouth is closed. The data showed that there was not a significant difference of opinion between how the patients felt and what the dentists found.

The researchers acknowledge that patients may have been more accurate in their personal assessment because they were educated on potential risks before the surgery and taught proper implant care. “If the patient will not follow the advice of the dentist, there is a risk of undetected inflammation around the implants,” said Dr. Frank Strietzel, an oral health researcher at Charity Medical University Berlin. “A dental implant is a foreign body like a prosthesis, which requires regular observation.” But because the mouth is such a sensitive part of the body, it’s not that surprising that patients are able to make valid assessments about their post-implant oral health. However, it is still very important that patients continue to follow up with their dentists, even if they feel that there are no issues. Open communication between patient and dentist is always critical, which is why establishing great rapport is one of our top priorities at Miami Dental Sedation Spa.

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