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The question we know so well

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  Posted by: The Probe      4th April 2020

“Do I really need an implant? Can’t I have a denture instead?”

The answer to this will, of course, depend on the individual patient, though other factors like quality of communication, clinical skill of the dentist and patient finances may influence the treatment decision. However, in many situations, dental implants offer many benefits over their alternative.

Not least of these is significantly improved quality of life for the patient.

Quality of life

The greatest motivation anyone can have for undergoing any kind of procedure, is the improved quality of life they will experience afterwards. It’s basic, but powerful.

In a study by Sarolzaie et al,[i] tooth loss is described as a “…significant life event that impairs two important functions, namely, eating and speaking…”. The study shows that these functions – as well as many others contributing to quality of life such as smiling, socialising, oral hygiene and mental wellbeing – were significantly improved after implant placement.

Personally, I have never heard a patient complain about an implant after having it placed or expressed regret of the procedure. When surgery and restoration are performed effectively, the implant causes the patient no trouble and they can go back to eating the foods they love and smiling as much as they want. Some even saying “I never knew how much I missed it until I got it back!”

However, we have all heard patients complain about their non-retained dentures.

Of course, implant surgery is not for everyone, but how many ‘perfect patients’ for this treatment slip through our hands?

Knowledge is key

Working within the dental profession, we are aware of the wide-ranging benefits of implants. But how much do your patients know or really understand? Every now and again you will come across a patient who does their homework; they will have researched the treatment options available and likely appreciate how and why dental implants would benefit them.

Unfortunately, these are the minority and most patients will not have this level of understanding. Many are unlikely to know what’s currently in their mouths, let alone what options are available to restore a gap in their smile or replace a failing tooth. It always strikes me as odd that, despite the mouth being in almost constant use, it is an area of the body most neglected by the masses. For something that we rely on so heavily in everyday life, why are so many people happy to accept less than the best solution available to them?

In most cases, this is probably because patients don’t have sufficient knowledge to fully appreciate the importance of their teeth and gums and the related treatment decisions they make. Many of us in dentistry often take our knowledge for granted – we know all the benefits of different treatments, as well as the risks of not choosing the most suitable option. Therefore, it is important that we share as much as possible in a way that patients will understand.

Communicating value

As an example, consider the patient that needs a hip or knee replacement. The replacement is the best option for them in most cases, restoring the function of the joint and allowing them to once again enjoy pain-free movements that mean they can get on with their lives. They are rarely concerned that treatment may last for only 10-20 years – the promise of ‘getting back to normal’ is enough for them to accept treatment willingly. You don’t hear about people choosing to use crutches instead of getting a joint replacement.

So, how do we encourage a similar approach to dental implant therapy when it is clearly the best solution for a patient? Are the effects of losing a tooth not great enough for people to worry about? Do patients not appreciate the impact of losing a tooth on their quality of life? Have they had a gap in their smile for long enough that they have acclimatised and can’t see the benefit of ‘getting back to normal’? All these things would influence whether a patient sees the value of treatment.

Consequently, it is essential that the dental team effectively communicates the benefits of their recommended treatment plan. Patients need all the facts, including information on how their quality of life will likely be impacted by implant treatment and the risks they face if they chose another option. It’s important to speak to them how you would speak to your family members and to believe in what you’re offering. And although many dentists fear coming across as “pushy” when advising a treatment plan, if you truly believe in the benefit of what you offer, and that it is 100% worth their investment, then you need to portray this.

When you use clinically proven implant systems and have undergone all the appropriate training, you can have confidence in the outcome of treatment and so can your patient. Should you need a helping hand with patient literature or videos to communicate the benefits of implants even more effectively, give your local Straumann Territory Manager a call!

The best for every patient

So, what do I say when asked why patients should choose implant-retained prostheses instead of dentures? There are only three words to answer – Quality. Of. Life. Implants are not for everyone, but for those who are suitable, the benefits of treatment are endless.

For more information about solutions available from Straumann, visit www.straumann.com or call 01293 651 230

 

Author:

Alex Styles is a Territory Sales Manager at Straumann

 

[i] Sargolzaie N, Moeintaghavi A, Sojaie H. Comparing the quality of life of patients requesting dental implants before and after implant. Sargozaie N, Moeintaghavi A, Shojaie H. Comparing the Quality of Life of Patients Requesting Dental Implants Before and After Implant. Open Dent J. 2017;11:485–491. Published 2017 Aug 31. doi:10.2174/1874210601711010485


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