A bone-creating protein has been found to be more effective than bone-grafting in dental implants.
The implants are screws that anchor permanent prosthetic teeth, but they won't work if the bone in which they are anchored is too thin. Bone-thinning is a common cause and consequence following tooth loss. The current favored solution is to supplement the area with bone grafts to stabilize the implant base. But that technique is problematic "primarily because it involves additional surgeries to harvest the bone," said Dr. Ulf M.E. Wikesjö, Interim Associate Dean for Research and Enterprise in the College of Dental Medicine, Georgia Health Sciences University.
In animal studies, Wikesjö and his team at the GHSU Laboratory for Applied Periodontal & Craniofacial Regeneration found that implanting bone morphogenetic protein in the sinus more new bone will form within four weeks than using conventional bone grafting at the same site.
According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, 69 percent of adults ages 35-44 have lost at least one tooth due to decay, disease or trauma, and 26 percent of adults have lost all permanent teeth by age 74. Before dental implants were available, the only options for replacing these missing teeth were dentures and dental bridges, both of which could lead to further bone loss. Implants provide patients with numerous benefits, including improved oral health, appearance, speech, convenience, durability and ability to eat.
The findings of his team's pilot study were presented on Friday at the Academy of Osseointegration annual meeting in Washington.