As new technologies make implant therapy possible for a growing number of patients, the responsibilities for clinicians multiply, too.
The profession is ultimately charged with providing the best available patient care. However, new materials and techniques are developed faster than can be objectively evaluated. The resulting lack of consensus burdens individual clinicians, who still remain responsible for providing treatment based on current best evidence. An exhaustive range of treatment choices, faced by clinicians of wide-ranging experience, is further complicated.
The decision-making process for clinical management of the edentulous maxilla requires familiarity with current best evidence on far-reaching topics, including bone augmentation for implant site development, implant system design, advanced imaging procedures, biologics and an interdisciplinary approach to prosthetic management.
In addition to considering parameters of patient care, clinicians must answer critical questions about each specific patient. What is the maxillary/mandibular ridge relationship? What is the quality and quantity of available hard and soft tissue? Can the patient maintain adequate oral hygiene? Do habits or disease put this patient in an at-risk category?
Today, there are many new ways to manage distinct clinical situations and an array of treatment options requiring advanced training and experience. To assist dentists in making choices that best utilize current research to improve the quality and efficiency of patient care, the Academy of Osseointegration in August brought together more than 120 of the world’s leading scientists and clinicians. Their mutual goal was to expand current clinical practice guidelines to include management of the edentulous maxilla. Based on a systematic review of the current literature, clinical information and accepted treatment approaches, the resulting guidelines – currently in progress – will serve as an educational tool for dentists and facilitate their ability to communicate about treatment planning with patients.
There’s no doubt that technology will continue its rapid pace in providing dentistry with enhanced diagnostic tools, improved materials and better prosthetic options for managing the edentulous maxilla. Subsequently, up-to-date guidelines, as proposed by the worldwide leaders in the field, will enable all dentists to make judicious use of current best evidence and the most of ongoing advances for patients.