PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Dental implants are marketed with the promise to change your smile and provide a new sense of self-confidence, but as implants surge in popularity, so do injuries. Last year alone, reports of problems with dental implants reached nearly a half million.
Any general dentist can place implants. However, there is no universal requirement that dental students have to perform a dental implant procedure as part of their training. Seeking additional training before performing the procedure on patients is optional and up to the discretion of the dentist.
Imagine a student driver passing an exam and being handed their driver’s license without being required to physically drive a car first. Reports of problems with dental implants passed 3.1 million over a 25-year period.
Recently though, a surge in those reports is raising the question of whether enough is being done to protect patients. Analyzing yearly data, there were less than 13,000 reports of problems in 2018. In 2021, reports skyrocketed to 477,823. More than 98% of the reports are categorized as injuries to the patients. The remaining reports fall under device malfunctions. The most frequently reported problem was implants failing to bond or losing the bond with the bone. When that happens, the implant is removed.
Reports of problems are found in an FDA database known as MAUDE, which stands for Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience. The information in MAUDE is available to the public but difficult to access. The surge in reports may have continued to go unnoticed if it wasn’t for a former FDA employee.
Madris Kinard is the founder and CEO of Device Events, a company that specializes in searching the government database. In 2021 she discovered dental implants have more reports of problems than any other medical device. “These are catastrophic failures we’re seeing,” says Kinard.
The purpose of MAUDE is to monitor and track issues with medical devices. However, the reports are often incomplete and provide limited information. Kinard has studied the reports and points out, “What we fail to see is the outcome for the patients. What did the patient go through? Did they have to get multiple bone grafts to replace the bone? Did they lose the tooth and never have the ability to replace it?”
Dental implants are composed of three parts. The “implant” portion is a screw-like device drilled into the jawbone. A second piece, called an abutment, connects the implant to the replacement tooth or sets of teeth.
According to the FDA, the increase in reported problems with dental implants is associated with a surge in the popularity and availability of the medical devices. Advertisements for dental implants seem to be everywhere, touting individuals with