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The evaluation, assessment, and care of dental implants

June 14, 2012
Maintenance is the cornerstone for dental implant long-term success, and the dental hygienist plays an important role in the assessment and management of dental implant patients. Lynn Mortilla, RDH, discusses how the recent explosion of the implant market has provided challenges for hygienists in terms of implant maintenance.

Implant maintenance is the cornerstone for dental implant long-term success. The successful care of dental implants is based on patient-specific treatment and scientific evidence while also incorporating the clinician’s experience.

The dental hygienist plays an important role in the assessment and management of dental implant patients. This role continues to evolve as technology advances and the scope of implant dentistry broadens. Current, scientifically driven education on implant assessment and maintenance is essential to all involved in patient care.

The explosion of the implant market finds hygienists faced with an array of products available for implant maintenance. Corporate influence and confusion about appropriate techniques have left us looking for sound, scientifically driven protocols and procedures. The focus of clinical care needs to remain on choosing products that are proven safe and effective by unbiased scientific research.

Accurate interpretation of assessment parameters is a major key to determining implant success and/or complications. Parameters that need continual monitoring are: soft tissue architecture, bleeding, probing depth, radiographic images, occlusion, mobility, bone loss, peri-implant status, restoration adequacy, patient health status and oral hygiene adequacy.

Hygienists are responsible for many facets of the care dental implant patients receive. The Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries’ (ADIA) mission is to provide education to train hygienists (and other team members) with the skill sets required to render appropriate care.

Training includes review of: soft and hard tissue evaluation, exposing radiographs, assessing the adequacy of patient self care, evaluation of the prosthesis and components for adequacy or problems, atraumatically removing all soft and hard deposits on abutments and restorations, determination of appropriate re-care interval, development of patient specific oral hygiene routine, patient education and motivation, identification of potential problems, documentation and communication.

Ensuring the long-term success of dental implants requires a team effort with the dental hygienist serving as a key member. The dental hygienist must continually review and adapt treatment protocols based on current research and patient needs in order to provide the best comprehensive care to dental
implant patients.

If you are interested in expanding your implant education, look for courses that present an introduction to implants and dental hygiene care, latest research, assessment strategies and instrumentation options to implement an optimal implant maintenance program.

Attendees also benefit from the inclusion of hands-on demonstrations featuring keys to effective probing and scaling techniques for dental implants. Hu-Friedy sponsored Advanced Concepts in the Evaluation, Assessment & Care of Dental Implantsat the ADHA meeting in Phoenix on June 14, 2012.

Lynn Mortilla, RDH, is the Executive Director of the ADIA (Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries), an adjunct clinical instructor at Temple University and The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Lynn lectures and publishes internationally on dental implants. Her email is [email protected].