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I recently heard a good friend and colleague speaking about this particular subject in a lecture. I wondered whether we are too satisfied with implant survival and not striving hard enough for implant success?

Implant survival can be categorised as:

  • Satisfactory survival- an implant with less than ideal conditions, but doesn’t require clinical management.
  • Compromised survival- implants with less than ideal conditions, which do require clinical treatment to reduce the risk of implant failure.

For comparison, the term implant success is used to describe ideal clinical conditions to support an implant. Successful implants also require regular expert care and attention. After all, success can lead to unsatisfactory or compromised survival if conditions become less than ideal. This can occur to the implant itself or due to other factors, such as patient motivation or dexterity.

Placing an implant without prior intensive treatment with an oral health expert to ensure excellent biofilm control and periodontal stability, so as to provide a solid foundation, is arguably striving for survival and not for success. Similarly, failure to ensure the patient is committed to a regular recall with a dental hygienist once the implant is placed is also falling short of aiming for implant success.

Achieving success starts with what happens before the implant is placed. The hygienist could be considered the gatekeeper for further treatment. Once the hygienist is happy that the foundations are consistently stable, the implant may be considered. Oral health optimisation is what the patient requires before they can be deemed eligible for this treatment, even if all the other conditions that are necessary for placement are met.

Oral Health Optimisation

Why? Because ‘oral health optimisation’ is all about ensuring optimal conditions for implant success. Once placed, oral health optimisation then focuses on maintaining optimal conditions for the life long care of the implant. A team work approach between hygienist and patient for long term implant success is crucial. I see my implant patients regularly, even if they present with excellent health. Life long care after implants is very important as things can change quickly.

So, if you also believe implant success is what we should be striving for over survival, working well alongside a hygienist should be seen as imperative.

This article was written by Claire Berry a multi -award winning hygienist and author. Claire trained as a dental hygienist whilst serving in the Army, qualifying in 2009. Currently works in 3 practices, as well as being a key opinion leader for brands such as Oral B, Boutique and an ambassador for the BSDHT. With articles published in BDJ In Practice, The Probe, Smile magazine, DH Contact, Young Dentist magazine, as well as numerous FMC publications including a monthly hygienist blog and is on the board for Clinical Dentistry Magazine and Dental Nurse magazine