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Treating Failed Implants
At the Dr Bobby Chhoker Clinic, we regularly get patients referred to us whose implants have failed. We also welcome patients who may be having problems with their implants, coming to us directly. We pride ourselves on being the experts in rectifying failed implants and have a great success rate.
What we have observed is that, sadly, most of our failed implants cases involve patients who have travelled abroad for dental treatment.
Dental treatment overseas has the twin appeal of a cheaper treatment coupled with holiday in an exotic location. Often, overseas clinics will advertise that you will be treated by a dentist with a Western university qualification.
Although it can be attractive to travel abroad to have your implants placed there are some important factors to consider before you go:
The qualifications and experience of the dentist
Ideally, the dentist should have a post-graduate qualification in implant dentistry. These qualifications can range from Certification to Masters Degree depending on the complexity of the treatment.
The overseas dentist will have a dental degree, and it might be from a Western university. However, this does not replace the need for additional professional qualifications relating to the placing of implants. In our experience, the cases that have gone badly wrong are usually a result of treatment from dentists without the appropriate training and experience. Make sure you do your homework on the dentist who will be treating you!
The quality of assessment and diagnosis
Overseas medical tourism centres might advertise a quick treatment turnaround: where you are driven from the airport straight to the operation and then directly back to your hotel to recuperate before flying straight home. The problem with this is that there is usually insufficient time to examine and diagnose the patient with the required level of detail.
Practice without proper diagnosis and detailed planning is commonly known as malpractice! Your diagnosis is the blueprint for your treatment. Therefore, your dentist should spend the necessary time assessing you and your individual needs.
Aftercare and maintenance
Implants are NOT fit and forget dental treatments. They require aftercare at home in the form of good oral hygiene, cleaning, and maintenance in the form of professional cleaning and examination on a six-monthly basis. In our experience in picking up the pieces, the problems with these implants placed overseas typically arise several months or years after treatment.
In addition, the patients we see for removal and retreatment of failed implants have found that they have no rights and no chance of a refund once things go wrong. Dentists in Australia can be reluctant to treat these cases, other than getting the patient out of pain or infection, as Medico-legal indemnities do not recommend treatment without strict documentation being in place. The signing of consents absolves dentists of any responsibility should the situation worsen, or the patient is without options due to lack of bone and infection.
The implants used need to be manufactured and sealed in a sterile environment, have a surface treatment fit for implant dentistry and be made of biological grade titanium.
In our opinion, at the Dr Bobby Chhoker Clinic we use one of the best implant systems in the world with the highest levels of engineering, sterility, manufacture, and materials.
In addition, the implants we use are strictly TGA approved, which is an essential requirement. Implants that are not TGA supported are illegal and can be dangerous as they go into your bone, which means into your bloodstream! The blood that circulates in the bone and around these implants circulates in all your other organs.
The laboratory where implants are made is as equally important as the implants themselves. The conditions at the laboratory need to be to regulation in terms of their cleanliness and the quality of materials used. Inferior materials may start to chip, break, or fall apart after treatment, and poor conditions can introduce bacteria that should not be there into your mouth.
In addition, the design of the teeth needs to be in harmony with your other teeth. If it is not, then the implants will likely fail from bone loss as the bite is not balanced. This often occurs several years after treatment with no recourse for the patient to go back to the original dentist they saw abroad.
Cross infection control
Finally, cross infection control is paramount. This means that the instruments and equipment used are adequately cleansed using professional machines and processes. We take this extremely seriously at Dr Bobby Chhoker Clinic.
In our surgery, the instruments are scrubbed, then put into an ultrasonic cleaner to remove any tiny bits of debris. They are then machine washed and soaked, and finally they are bagged into sterile pouches with barcodes to identify them and put through a steam autoclave machine. The steam sterilises them at a high temperature, removing viruses and bacteria that could cause infection or harm. In our experience some of the popular destination countries for implants do not have regulations covering this. While the front of the overseas clinic may look cutting edge and like a 5-star hotel, what goes on in the back is an entirely different story. There is evidence that some clinics only clean the instruments by hand. This can introduce the risk of several diseases to patients, including Hepatitis. Poor infection control can seriously infect the implants and bone of the patient, causing pain, disease, infection, suffering and ultimately implant failure.