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    The science behind instrument selection

    The Rockwell Scale is the key to evidence-based instrument selection for dental implant maintenance.

    As clinicians, we are often faced with the decision to determine which products or instruments are best for our practice and our patient’s needs.

    Hygienists have different needs, depending on their day-to-day practice. As a hygienist in a practice that specialized in placing dental implants, I had to find instruments that worked well to clean the surfaces of the abutments, crowns, threads and overdenture bars thoroughly, without the worry of scratching the surfaces of the restorations, which causes bacterial adhesion and can lead to peri-implantitis or, worse, implant failure.

    After an item is created, the surface is mechanically flawed with tooling marks and scratches. Many of these surface flaws can be reduced by methods of polishing, tumbling and electropolishing but surface imperfections will likely still exist. The implant will have a higher risk for being damaged (and bacteria-prone) during construction than during cleaning, but I still wanted to reduce the risk as much as I could.

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    I wanted a set of instruments that would work to remove the biofilm and hard calculus buildup on the implants without scratching them. I couldn’t believe the claims of instrument manufacturers without unbiased research to support their claims. In the process of conducting my own research and clinical trials, I found titanium implant instruments from American Eagle.

    Medical-grade instruments

American Eagle Instruments were on the forefront of bringing medical-grade titanium instruments to the implant maintenance market. Like me, educators and clinicians worldwide wanted evidence that the titanium was safe to use around the surfaces of dental implants. This claim could be measured using a Rockwell C scale (HRC).

    Developed by American metallurgist Stanley P. Rockwell, the Rockwell scale is “a hardness scale based on indentation hardness of a material.”  The resistance to penetration correlates with the material’s resistance to scratching, critical when choosing which instrument to use during implant maintenance appointments. We want to avoid leaving trace elements from the instrument on the implant surface so not to alter the biocompatibility. 

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