Study: Shorter wait time between bone grafts and placing implants OK

Synthetic bone grafts need only three months to become secure enough for dental implants to be placed, according to a new study in the Journal of Oral Implantology (February 2014, Vol. 40:1, pp. 103-110).

Two surgeries are frequently required for tooth replacement with dental implants; however, clinicians must allow for adequate healing time between the procedures. But most patients want to minimize overall recovery time and, consequently, want the surgeries to be done close together.

With tooth loss, the jawbone can shrink, making it impossible to replace the missing teeth with dental implants without risk of nerve or sinus damage, the study authors noted. An additional surgery may be required to ensure that adequate jawbone height and width are available for implant placement.

This study by German researchers looked specifically at healing times between the two dental procedures involving tooth replacement. The research included a three-year clinical and radiologic follow-up investigation of dental implants placed three and six months after sinus augmentation in 14 patients.

All the patients had two procedures involving tooth replacement. In the first procedure, patients received a bone substitute, composed from nanocrystalline hydroxyapatite, which was grafted into the patient's jaw. This synthetic material provided scaffolding for new bone growth, expanding into patients' upper jawbone.

Half of the patients then waited three months, while the other half waited six months before undergoing the second procedure, the placement of the dental implants.

The researchers found similar results among patients three years after the dental implants, whether patients waited three or six months between procedures. The 14 patients collectively received 24 implants in the upper jaw, and only one patient lost an implant. No implants were loose, and only a few showed signs of plaque or changes to soft tissue.

Synthetic bone seems to need only three months to become secure enough for dental implants to be placed successfully in the jaw, the study authors concluded. The additional three months between surgical procedures had no significant long-term effect among the patients.

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