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UTSD Researchers Test New Implant Designs to Improve Denture Comfort

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - 4:53pm

Dr. Kiat-amnuay

Dr. Weltman

Dr. Kiat-amnuay

Dr. Weltman

An experimental dental implant design which could improve the comfort and retention of dentures will be put to the test in a patient study funded by a recent grant to University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston researchers.

The principal investigator is Sudarat Kiat-amnuay, DDS, MS, associate professor in the Department of General Practice and Dental Public Health, with co-principal investigator Robin Weltman, DDS, MS, associate professor in the Department of Periodontics and Dental Hygiene. Additionally, Associate Clinical Professor Steven Vaughan, DDS, and Le Giao, DDS, a periodontics resident, will assist as investigators.

The most common design for implant-retained dentures in the mandibular (lower) jaw uses two implants placed near the front of the jaw, but many patients still experience discomfort and lack of stability from the denture when chewing on the back teeth, Kiat-amnuay said.

In this pilot study, the team will test supplementing the two implants at the front of the lower jaw with two additional implants – each only 6 millimeters long – on each side at the back of the lower jaw.

The study is funded by a $10,000 grant from Dentsply/Astra Tech, a dental implant maker, who will also supply 40 implants for the 10 patients to be studied. The patients will be drawn from UTSD’s residency programs.

The test is designed as a randomized control clinical trial (RCT), meaning half the patients will be randomly assigned to a control group and will wear dentures secured by the conventional two frontal implants. The other half will try the experimental design of two frontal and two posterior implants.

After a few months, the groups will switch so each patient can compare and evaluate their quality of life under the two implant designs. Patients will answer questionnaires measuring denture comfort and stability, as well as how they impacted everyday tasks such as chewing and talking.

Based on the findings, researchers can decide whether to conduct another trial with a larger group of patients, in addition to using the data to obtain larger grant funding.

RCT’s are considered to be the most reliable form of scientific evidence but are relatively rare in clinical dentistry compared to the medical field, Kiat-amnuay said.  High-quality evidence can increase chances that the new implant method will be adopted as one of the new treatment standards.