Exclusive interview: The current state of dental implants and what must be done to improve it

June 25, 2014
Kevin Henry
Kevin Henry

Kevin Henry is the group editorial director for Advanstar Dental Media and has more than 15 years of experience in the dental publications field. He can be reached by email at khenry@advanstar.com. Also, you can follow him on Twitter (@kgh23).

Issue 6

I recently had the chance to visit with Dr. Joseph Gian-Grasso, the president of the Academy of Osseointegration and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for Dental Products Report.

I recently had the chance to visit with Dr. Joseph Gian-Grasso, the president of the Academy of Osseointegration and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for Dental Products Report.

With the AO just announcing the results of a member survey that showed that 90 percent of dental professionals believe those who practice implant dentistry should adhere to specific guidelines to ensure optimal patient outcomes, I thought it was a good time to catch up with him about where the field of dental implants was, and where it was going.

According to the AO, more than 400 dentists – including general practitioners, prosthodontists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons and periodontists – participated in the survey, which was conducted online in January/February of 2014 with a 5.4% margin of error for the question specifically related to guideline adherence.

The Guidelines support AO’s mission “to advance oral health and well-being globally by disseminating state-of-the-art clinical and scientific knowledge of implant dentistry and tissue engineering and by defining expertise in the field.”

Kevin Henry: Has the explosion of implant placement by specialists and GPs helped or hurt the implant industry, in your opinion?

Dr. Gian-Grasso: I think the industry is delighted because the implant field is growing by leaps and bounds. Our concern at the AO is that the level of implant placement training should always be at a specialty quality level. Sadly, patients can be severely mistreated when a dentist doesn’t have the proper level of training. I think we should be most concerned about the dentist who takes a two-day course on implants and then starts placing implants. Those dentists haven’t been properly trained to the level we would like to see.

Henry: Is there room for both the GP and the specialist in today's implant world? If so, how can they work together to improve implant placement?

Dr. Gian-Grasso: Implant company projections have indicated that today 60 percent of implants are placed by specialists. By 2017, it will be the GPs who are placing 60 percent of the implants. That is a mega-trend and there is absolutely room for both GPs and specialists in the current and future of implant dentistry. The emphasis for the AO is to increase the percentage of GPs (we are currently at 20 percent of our membership) who are part of our organization. We have a lot to offer for both specialists and GPs and, with the proper training, there is room for everyone to succeed in implant placement.

Henry: What's the thing that stands out to you about 90 percent of your members saying there must be guidelines?

Dr. Gian-Grasso: It signals a commonality among the beliefs of our members. We firmly believe that standards need to be met and our members pride themselves on being leaders in the field of dental implants.

Henry: How does the AO offerings help with this call for guidelines?

Dr. Gian-Grasso: Our guidelines are available for anyone to see and copies are available on our website at www.osseo.org. To continue to develop these guidelines, we also host consensus conferences.

The Academy’s upcoming consensus conference, “Current Best Evidence for the Management of the Edentulous Maxilla,” will focus on five topic areas including grafting, implant system design, imaging, biologics, and the role of prosthetics in the rehabilitation of the edentulous maxilla.

This Summit is a collaboration of the AO and the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, the American Academy of Periodontology and the American College of Prosthodontists, as well as multiple corporate partners. We all work together to establish clinical practice guidelines that are supported by the current best evidence and that members can quickly apply to their practices.

Henry: Where do you see implants heading in the next year? In the next five years?

Dr. Gian-Grasso: Every industry projection you see about implants shows good news for the future. Patients and the profession are identifying that this is state-of-the-art treatment and will be the standard of care. In five years time, I believe the numbers of implants being placed will double. Estimates show that at about 3 million worldwide, so just think where we are heading.

Note: Dr. Gian-Grasso also expressed enthusiasm about the Academy’s 2015 Annual Meeting - AO’s 30th anniversary - in San Francisco from March 12-14, 2015. The focus will be on the power of collaboration to advance the art and science of dental implant therapy.

The Opening Symposium will feature teams of doctors presenting on how they manage patients together for optimal results. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Daniel Alam, MD, who was a member of the multi-disciplinary team of doctors and surgeons at Cleveland Clinic who performed the first near-total face transplant in the United States. He will speak to the critical importance of different disciplines coming together to support a patient’s medical, surgical and emotional needs to make them whole again.