Did you know that approximately 69% of all American adults between the ages of 35 and 44 have lost at least one adult tooth due to an accident, gum disease, failed root canal or decay? This opens up a huge market for dental implants, especially since most dental professionals now recognize dental implantation as the best solution available. Dental implant surgery is quite invasive, and many dental surgeons have been working on advancing and improving the surgical procedure in order to make it much less invasive. This has given birth to flapless implant surgery. This article takes a deeper look at what flapless implant surgery is, the treatment planning and processing and the advantages and feasibility involved.
The Fundamentals of Flapless Implant Surgery
Traditional dental implant installation involves an extremely invasive surgery, and involves raising the surgical mucoperiosteal flap, which can result in numerous complications, such as tissue recession, scarring and even crestal bone loss. Flapless implant surgery is a newly revolutionized technique that involves a tissue punch as a means of gaining access to the underlying bone without causing much disruption to the surrounding tissue area. There are three general criteria that must be met for patients to be considered as a candidate for flapless implant surgery. Patients must exhibit excellent ridge width with no bone grafting needed, excellent keratinized gingiva and also a good access area for the tissue punch.
Treatment Planning and Process
CT scans are most commonly used for treatment planning, as the dental surgeons must know what the conditions of the underlying bone are in order to gain a better understanding of the tooth-to-bone anatomical relationship. The CT scan is used to measure the distance between the teeth structures and the bone width, angles involved with the implantation and the bone density. Basically, the results of the CT scan will provide the dental surgeons with ample information and data regarding whether flapless implant surgery is feasible for each patient.
Once the CT scan has confirmed a possible candidate, the dental surgeons are responsible for using a tissue punching technique to gain a small access area to where the implants are to be placed. Once the implants are secured in place, most dental surgeons will finish off by using a YSGG laser. The YSSG laser increases bone to implant contact, decreases post-operative pain and also speeds up recovery, as it can bring soft tissue edges together through welding. The welding process unfolds the helical structure of collagen molecules, which allows them to better intertwine with adjacent segments.
Advantages and Feasibility of Flapless Implant Surgery
There have been numerous studies that looked at the feasibility and practicality of flapless implant surgery, as it is minimally invasive as opposed to the general concept of dental implant installation. A study with 57 patients between the ages of 24 to 86 has highlighted the feasibility and the advantages of flapless implant surgery by looking at the case studies of 79 implants that were placed. After 2 years, the study showed that:
- the success rate of flapless implant surgery was 98.7%. This is extremely high, and shows that only one patient was lost out of the 56. These odds are looking pretty good.
- changes in the crestal bone and follow-up measurements were insignificant. This means that the dental implants placed via flapless implant surgery were able to prevent overall underlying bone loss.
- inflammation was insignificant. In short, most patients recovered fairly well from the surgical procedure without any complications, and post-operative discomfort was greatly reduced in comparison to other techniques used to install dental implants.
- probing depth did not increase with time. This indicates that the dental implants were able to secure themselves into position and did not deteriorate with time.
- flapless implant surgery is time efficient with an average placement time of 28 minutes.
Although there was a huge mystery surrounding the practicality and feasibility of flapless implant surgery, this study has undeniably proven that flapless implant surgery is indeed a feasible option for patients, and can offer numerous advantages that other methods simply cannot achieve.
Patients who are wary of the invasive nature of dental implantation may be able to opt for flapless implant surgery if their dental and oral conditions are still ideal. Speak with a dental surgeon experienced with this type of surgical procedure in order to determine whether you may be a likely candidate. Weigh out the risks, pros and cons before proceeding.