When it comes to dental implants, it is essential to get the placement right, according to a detailed 2009 study from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Study leader and chair of the periodontics department David Cochran, revealed that during the time between dental implant placement and the placement of the final prosthesis, the majority of the patient's bone remodelling took place.

The results of his study, which was published in the Journal of Periodontology, revealed that in contrast, during the five years after an implant was fitted, relatively little bone change was observed.

This, he suggests, could provide further support for the theory that dental implants can be beneficial when it comes to replacing missing teeth.

And while periodontists should aim first and foremost to try and save patients' natural teeth whenever it is possible, Dr Cochran asserts that the findings emphasise the benefits of implants in restoring patient tooth function.

This is why it is so important for practitioners to pay particular attention during the fitting process.

Once this has been correctly completed, Dr Cochran says that periodontists can take pride in a job well done and move on to other oral care treatments for the patient.

He said: "Since the patient's host tissue surrounding the dental implant largely remains unchanged in the five years following placement, the dental team can now focus on periodic assessment and treatment of other areas in the mouth as needed, and know that the implant is doing its job as a viable substitute solution."

Another aspect of periodontics that may be worth further investigation is the use of gene therapy in regenerating tooth-supporting bone around dental implants.

Research undertaken at the University of Michigan that has previously been published in the medical journal Molecular Therapy suggests that advances made in regenerated bone structure in rats could one day be applied to humans.

Calling the investigation a "proof of concept" study, associate professor of biomedical engineering William Giannobile said that it offers an encouraging outlook.

But when mouth wounds are present, results of dental implants can be unpredictable. Current reconstructive surgery options include bone grafts (which are usually taken from a patient's jaw), or using donated tissue.

Strong bone structure is required for successful dental implants, as this helps to anchor the new “tooth” in its place. Regeneration treatment using pioneering gene therapy methods developed by Giannobile's team yielded almost 50 per cent more supporting bone around dental implants than conventional treatments.

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