Dentists are not being vigilant when carrying out implant surgery and are failing to inform patients about the risks of nerve damage, a study in the British Dental Journal says.
Researchers from King's College London Dental Institute analysed 30 patients with nerve injuries and found problems with pain, speech, eating and kissing.
Around 1% of implant procedures carried out each year result in nerve injuries. Dentists should improve care before and after implant surgery, the study says.
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root, which is screw or cylinder-shaped, that is placed into the jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge.
► See also: DENTAL ANESTHESIA : Mandibular Anesthesia : Gow-Gates technique
Dental implants are generally used if someone has lost a tooth or teeth due to disease or injury. The type of nerve injury which can be caused by implant surgery has increased in recent years alongside a rise in implant surgery.
Approximately 10,000 lower jaw implant procedures are performed each year in the UK. In 2007, 30% of all nerve injuries cause by dental work were associated with implants. This contrasts with 10% in 1997.
The King's College London research team found that these injuries could have a significant impact on people's quality of life. More than half of the 30 patients participating in the research suffered constant pain or discomfort after surgery, with 40% complaining of numbness.
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