New research has identified preventative treatments offered by dental hygienists and those dually qualified in dental hygiene and therapy (DHTs) are the key to halting peri-implantitis.
The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology and supported by the European Federation of Periodontology1 (EFP), illustrated an alarming increase in the cases of peri-implant diseases and highlighted the vital role primary oral healthcare plays in preventing them.
The report also recognised the difficulties which dentists are facing in finding workable solutions for treating peri-implantitis once it has taken hold. This further emphasises the need for accurate early identification and management of any signs of inflammation by wider dental professionals.
Michaela ONeill, President of the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT), spoke about the role dental hygienists and DHTs can play in helping to prevent peri-implant diseases.
Ms ONeill said: “Within the last couple of decades dental implants have become established as a routine and safe procedure which offers patients a more aesthetically pleasing and manageable alternative to crowns and bridges. But we have recently seen a worrying increase in the number of patients who suffer from peri-implant diseases due to poor supportive therapy, something which dental hygienists and DHTs have the ability and knowledge to prevent.
“In their research the EFP identified that after five years only one in five (18 per cent) of patients who complied with supportive therapy presented with peri-implant diseases, while the proportion of patients who did not adhere to correct supportive therapy with problems was more than doubled (43.9 per cent). What is easily evident is that with correct supportive therapy offered by dental hygienists and therapists the majority of these cases can be prevented.
“Dental hygienists and those dually qualified are specially trained to provide expert preventative support after treatments such as dental implants, which can dramatically reduce any potential problems. The BSDHT believe implants must be treated in the same way as natural teeth in order for them to last as long as possible.”
Dental implants which are not cared for properly by a patient will develop a similar coating to that of natural teeth when they are neglected. If this is not properly treated this can lead to a whole range of problems including peri-implantitis which would lead to pain, discomfort and possibly the implant having to be removed completely.
When an implant is properly maintained by the patient with the support of a dental hygienist or therapist, although there is no lifetime guarantee, it can last for a prolonged period of time.
“We fully support the EFP report where it recommends that dental professionals make it clear to patients who have been provided with an implant that they must continue to visit a dental professional for clinical examination and evaluation on a regular basis,” added Ms ONeill.
“Significantly, there is no established way to treat peri-implantitis, making it vitally important that we ensure those patients who have had implants are receiving the correct after care. This should include regular visits to their dental hygienist or DHT in order to avoid any potential problems the patient might have in the future.
“How well a patient looks after their implant, and whether they go for regular maintenance appointments, has the biggest impact on how long they will last.”