Dental surgeons have developed a revolutionary implant procedure using an electrical transmitter to speed up the waiting time before a new tooth can be fitted.
Dental implants are fitted in two stages, starting with inserting a screw to hold the tooth in the jawbone. Patients then have to wait up to nine months for the bone to ‘integrate’ with the metal screw before a tooth can be fitted on to it.
But by using electromagnetic transmitters at the end of the screw, the new implant procedure can speed up the integration process by between 40 and 70 per cent, according to its originators.
The device, invented by Israeli company Magdent, is approved in the EU, and is due to be marketed to UK dentists early next year.
Electromagnetic fields are already used by surgeons to heal complicated bone fractures because they encourage the creation of bone-building cells.
Magdent says its MED (miniaturised electronic device) makes bone grow faster and more densely by transmitting an electromagnetic field into the implant and surrounding bone graft.
The company claims the new technology has significant potential for patients who were previously considered to be risky dental implant candidates because of poor bone quality due to osteoporosis or cancer treatments that weaken bone strength.
Magdent boss Elad Yakobson explained: “All dental implants use titanium screws, and many companies have tried to accelerate osseointegration by changing the shape of the screw, but the differences are minor.
“Ours is the first innovation that lets the doctor actively influence the healing process. The MED creates stimulation from microelectronics inside the healing abutment and can help people whose jawbone was not considered good enough to take an implant.”
In addition to shortening the integration process and improving the quality of the bone by up to 40 per cent, MED may prove helpful in preventing or treating peri-implantitis, an infection that can occur around the dental implant after the procedure, as electromagnetic stimulation helps to kill bacteria.
The dental implant market is said to be worth about £2 billion a year in the US and Europe as patients search for the perfect look or to have missing teeth replaced.
Implants typically cost from £2,000 to £4,000 each and are available only privately, although the NHS may provide them for mouth cancer patients or those who have damaged their jaw in an accident.
The cost of using a transmitter on the titanium implant will push up the price of treatment to the patient by about £50 per tooth.
Dr. Andrew Dawood, a dentist and dental implant specialist in Harley Street, said: “This is fascinating technology. These days, people want everything done in a hurry, so patients may be willing to pay more to have the process speeded up.” – Martin Halle, The Mail