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Dental exams can be extremely valuable for overall health

Usually, when you think of going to the dentist, you’re thinking about teeth.  Cleaning teeth, maybe there’s a problem with a tooth – a cavity,  a chip, discoloration – maybe you’re thinking about braces or other straightening needs… or the dreaded root canal problems. 

However, did you realize that the dentist may be able to recognize and diagnose numerous other potential problems with your health?

According to Dawn West, DMD, RN with Tuffs University School of Dental Medicine, when you go for a dental checkup you might actually be saving so much more than just your teeth or find out about other oral health related complications, because the mouth is the gateway to your entire organism and there might be several important signs of other diseases existent in there.

Some of the other non-dental related diseases that a dentist can spot include the sexually transmitted diseases (STD), diabetes, heart disease, and even several types of cancerous diseases.

The dentist is basically looking in your mouth for signs of different diseases such as inflammation, bleedings, dry mouth or sores, and damages to the gum line. Some other dentists do actually perform neck and head exams, Blood pressure and even blood sugar or other blood issue tests.

So don’t look at that dentist visit as simply a pain that has to be done every 6 months, think of it as a great check up on your overall health! 

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Over 130 Million Americans are without dental insurance

According to a report released last week by the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging more than 130 million Americans do not have dental insurance and in many cases are unable to pay for the out of pocket cost of paying for a dental check-up. The subcommittee is aware that peoples’ lives are being disrupted by chronic toothaches and gum problems but are unable to find affordable dental care for themselves and their families. The goal of the subcommittee is to come up with a plan to do better and help the dental community do a better job of serving low income families.

Some interesting facts illustrating the national dental crisis:

  • One quarter of all adults in the United States ages 65 and older have lost all their teeth.
  • More than 47 million people live in places where it is difficult to access dental care.
  • In 2009, there were more than 830,000 visits to emergency rooms across the country for preventable dental conditions, a shocking 16 percent increase since 2006.
  •  Inadequate or non-existent dental health maintenance has a profound impact on overall health, including an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease and poor birth outcomes.
  •  Many Americans are forced to live with extreme pain because of dental disease.
  • Dental diseases have prevented millions of Americans from getting a job.
  • Medicare doesn’t cover any dental care whatsoever.
  • Thousands of retiree’s are losing their dental insurance at retirement.
  •  One third of all Americans do not have dental coverage.
  • Only 45 percent of Americans age two and older saw a dental provider in the past 12 months.
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Truth About Teeth

This is a common scenario in Kansas for those who don’t have dental insurance. Let’s say one of your teeth starts to crumble and you have to go to a dentist. The cost to have a root canal and a crown can run as high $2000. The dentist is going to want his money at the time of service. What will you do if you don’t have the money?

The simplest solution is to perform an extraction to solve the problem. It costs around $200 and the patient while losing the tooth does begin to feel much better because the infection is out of the body. Another alternative would be to visit a local university that has a school of dentistry.

Many dental schools offer reduced-cost services to patients in need. Don’t expect them to foot all the costs for restorative dental work but they can help reduce costs significantly. Even before you start to experience the pain of a toothache the health of your teeth could be giving you problems that impact your overall health.

The Kansas Health Foundation wants to get that information out in a new public-health campaign to address what it calls a crisis in oral health in Kansas. In a campaign called “Truth About Teeth,” the foundation will use words such as “decay” and “gross” plastered across mouths on billboards and in other ads to get people’s attention and give them some fact about the state’s dental condition.

Some interesting facts about dental care in Kansas:

  • 58% of Kansas third graders have experienced tooth decay
  • Ninety-three counties in Kansas do not have enough dentists to serve their residents, and 13 have no dentists at all.
  • Kansas hospitals reported more than 17,500 visits to emergency rooms for dental-related problems in 2010.
  • Kansas ranks 18th in the United States for total tooth loss among senior citizens.
  • Only 25 percent of Kansas dentists accept patients insured through Medicaid.
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Relief for Sensitive Teeth - New Tooth Technology - Sensitive Teeth

A chemical mix imitating the minerals found in saliva, but at higher concentrations, can be added to toothpaste to plug tiny pores that lead to nerves. The exposed pores lead to nerves, causing pain and sensitive teeth.

Now, a new ingredient in toothpaste, developed by dentists, called Novamin, can dramatically reduce teeth sensitivity. Teeth become sensitive when gum tissue recedes, exposing a tooth's roots. Roots contain small holes or tubules that lead to nerves. Novamin plugs up the holes cutting off contact with nerves and eliminating pain.

It is made from a compound from elements naturally critical for bone and tooth mineralization: calcium, phosphorus, silica and sodium. In their common forms, these elements have very limited value in tooth healthy. But in their rare ionic form, they can make teeth stronger and help eliminate tooth sensitivity.

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Dental X-Rays - XRays Risk - Dental Xrays Concern

A lot of patients are worried about having dental x-rays taken on an annual basis. They are fearful that since they have had medical x-rays taken recently, the additional dental x-rays will cause some sort of a medical problem. First, a complete series of 16-20 dental x-rays emits as much radiation as does one hour in the sun. Most dental offices now offer digital x-rays which produce 1/10 the radiation that the old style x-rays produced. Also, if x-rays are not taken, only about 50% of the tooth structure can be examined for problems. Without the help of x-rays, you are asking your dentist to work with one hand behind his/her back. And without x-rays you will probably have to contend with bigger dental problems when they can be seen by eye.

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Dental Warning Signals - Dental Problems - Gum Disease Warning Signs

Most people don’t think of their mouth as a source of disease. So what if I have bleeding of the gums or I offend because of bad breadth? Both of these conditions are indicators of a disease process and they should be checked by your dentist. In fact, if your dentist or dental hygienist isn’t checking your gums at each of your dental visits;  it’s time to look for a new dentist. The fact is that our mouths contain so many different forms of bacteria that it is literally a launching pad for disease in general. These bacteria will cause bad breadth, sore gums, bleeding when brushing and eventually the loss of teeth.  It is a proven fact that gum disease can provoke heart disease, stroke, diabetes and may worsen osteoporsis. Gum disease is esentially a silent killer. Do not ignore it because more than your teeth may go away because of this disease.

 

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Bad Breath - What Causes Bad Breath - Halitosis

A common question you hear at most dental office's is – “What causes bad breath?”

Many times the complaint is not from the offender but from a long suffering spouse or family member. There are many causes of bad breath (which we call “halitosis”) – some serious and some not. And while many people have decided to just hold their nose and live with it, the good news is diagnosing and treating bad breath is something that can easily be done.

Here is a list, in no particular order, of the reasons people may be slowly backing up during conversations:

Foods Containing Pungent Oils

Yes – garlic and onions are very healthy, but they also contain oils which may cause an unhealthy reaction to those around you. These odors come from the lungs, last up to 72 hours and can be tough to cover up. Mints, gum and rinses are your best bet – or make sure everyone around you has had the same yummy food as well!

Routine Illnesses

Colds, sore throats, coughs and sinus infections all cause yucky smelling mucus (or snot, depending on your age), to get trapped in our mouths, throats and noses, which causes foul breath until the illness is taken care of. Of course, if you have one of these highly contagious problems you shouldn’t be that close to someone anyway! If a sinus infection, sore throat, cough or cold doesn’t clear up in a few days to a week, you should probably see your physician to make sure things aren’t of a serious nature.

Dry Mouth

A dry mouth lets dead cells accumulate on your gums, tongue and cheeks. And while morning breath is a perfectly normal phenomenon due to lowered salivary activity at night – it shouldn’t last all day. Those who snore, mouth-breath, take certain medications, or even have lasted into middle age are prone to a dry mouth.

Smoking

Smoking dries out your mouth (see above) and also, tobacco just plain stinks. If lung cancer and heart disease aren’t reason enough to give up the ciggies, maybe a constant foul mouth will help you make that life-saving decision.

Chronic Diseases or Conditions

Many serious diseases such as lung infections, kidney failure, diabetes, cancer, GERD, anorexia, bulimia and others can cause very specific types of halitosis. The good news is that these are on the rare side, but if anything along these lines is suspected, a referral to the appropriate practitioner is in order.

Poor Dental Hygiene and Gum Disease

Ahhh… this is our favorite! Not because we like people to have poor dental hygiene and gum disease, but because these are very common causes of bad breath and we can usually treat them quite easily. But please don’t wait too long! Gum disease, which usually starts with poor brushing and flossing habits as well as a lack of routine dental visits, can do much more than make your mouth stinky.

In just a short period of time, gum disease can advance and eat away at the gums and bone which hold your teeth in place. The result? Loose, unstable teeth which will eventually be lost if not treated. Catching gum disease early is great as treatment is typically conservative. Wait too long and it gets much more difficult and extensive.

Bad breath is not normal! Seeing your dentist and dental hygienist on a routine basis is your best bet for making sure your teeth and gums stay healthy, your smile stays bright, and your breath doesn’t cause others to run in the opposite direction.

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Dental Expense - Gum Disease - Emergency Room Dental Care

Each year, more than 85,000 emergency-room visits are due to gum and periodontal problems, a new study finds. These visits cost more than $33 million a year.

Harvard researchers did the study. They used information from 24 states. It covered visits to hospital emergency rooms in 2006. In that year, 85,036 people visited an ER because of gingivitis, periodontal disease or receding gums. The average cost of this type of ER visit was $456. About 1 in 5 visitors was a child. Two-thirds of visitors had some form of insurance and a family income below $47,000 a year.

Just over half of the visits were for gingivitis. This is the mildest form of gum disease. Another 45% were for the more serious form, periodontal disease. In all, 1,167 people were admitted to the hospital. The average cost of a hospital stay was $15,248.

People with Medicare were more likely to be admitted to the hospital than younger people with private or public health insurance or no insurance. Medicare covers people age 65 and older.

People with certain other significant health conditions were more likely to be admitted to the hospital. The most common of these conditions were high blood pressure, chronic (long-term) lung disease, diabetes and depression.

People with severe or dangerous periodontal conditions also were more likely to be hospitalized. This includes people with abscesses, which are bacterial infections in the gums. Some abscesses can be life-threatening if not treated.

Less than half of American adults visit a dentist at least once a year. People who do not see a dentist regularly are more likely to visit the ER with dental problems.

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Oral Health and Diabetes - Diabetes Information - Dental Diseases

23.6 million people in America have diabetes and over 5 million of them don't even realize that they are diabetic. Another 57 million Americans are in a pre-diabetic state which is even a greater national health concern.

Research has shown a connection between periodontal disease and diabetes. People with diabetes are more likely to develop periodontal disease. Periodontal disease may even be associated with the development of Type 2 diabetes. Periodontal disease also makes it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugars which can lead to more serious problems when it comes to managing the disease.

The connection between diabetes and oral health is just one example of the relationship between oral health and overall wellness. It also underscores the important role that dental care providers can take in early detection of serious systemic diseases.

The bottom line is if you are not visiting your dentist once every six months for a check up you are putting more than just your oral health at risk.

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Smoking and Tooth loss - Dental Health - Smokers Dental Health

Studies are showing that smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to lose teeth.  

Current smokers were 2.5 times as likely to have lost all of their teeth as people who never smoked. Former smokers were 1.5 times as likely to have lost all of their teeth.

Even people who had quit smoking 30 years ago were at increased risk for tooth loss.

The more cigarettes a day someone smoked, the higher the risk for tooth loss. The highest risk was among current smokers who smoked 25 or more cigarettes a day. It was lower for those who smoked 1 to 14 cigarettes a day.

This pattern held in former smokers, too. Those who had smoked the most cigarettes in the past were almost twice as likely to have lost all of their teeth as those who had smoked the fewest. The time a person had smoked also mattered. Risk of tooth loss was highest for people who had smoked 50 years or more. It was lower for people who had smoked for 35 years or fewer.

Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke also increased the chances of tooth loss. People who had never smoked were 1.22 times as likely to lose teeth if they were exposed 1 to 5 hours a week to someone else's smoke. This went up to 1.37 for people who were exposed for 6 or more hours a week.

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Dental Insurance Crisis - Dental Insurance - Medicaid Advantage Dental Insurance

The national debate on health insurance has dominated the headlines ever since President Obama was elected and made health care reform one of his first mandates. Ignored in all this is the dental insurance crisis. 
Over one hundred million Americans do not have dental insurance and the lack of coverage is leading to such probles as school absense, unemployment, and even death. Experts say that the most common disease among children is chronic dental decay. 
Nationally it is estimated that over 51 million school hours are lost each year because of children with dental problems. It is frustrating because these problems and loss of productivity are completely preventable.

One third of the population of the United States does not have dental insurance. Its a catch 22 situation. The answer of course is to buy dental insurance and the main reason people do not have dental insurance is because they simply can't afford it.

Medicaid only provides dental insurance to low income families in only nine state's. Most dentists in those states refuse to accept it because the payouts are so unreasonably low. There is a dental crisis going on in this country and it is one of the many items that were overlooked during health care reform.

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Free Dental Cleanings - Spirit Dental - Free Preventative Cleanings

Spirit Dental Insurance is one of the most popular dental plans in the country. One of the top reasons for that is that the plan offers three free dental cleanings per year as opposed to two with other dental insurance plans.

Your teeth are one of the first things that anyone notices about you. Having an extra cleaning every year keeps them cleaner and whiter, making them more attractive to others. Tom Mayer of Direct benefits says that is just one of the many reasons that Spirit is the best dental insurance plan in the country.

Spirit was designed to be a ground-breaking dental insurance plan. There are no waiting periods. You can start using your plan right away. Major services are covered, which include crowns, root canals, dental implants, dentures and bridges.

Another great feature is that you have the option of $1,200, $2,000, and $3,000 deductibles. The majority of dental plans have $1,000 yearly deductibles and that doesn't go very far at the dentist's office when something major happens.

If you are looking for a great dental plan, Spirit Dental just may be the right plan for you and your family.

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Dental Spending - Dental Spending Decline - Dental Care

Patients spent less out-of-pocket and dental spending declined slightly in 2009, the first year-to-year decline since government analysts began tracking the National Health Expenditure Accounts in 1960. Dental spending per capita also declined which is certainly another sign of the recession.

The economic recession that officially ended in June 2009 "profoundly influenced" health care spending during the year, according to a report prepared by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of the Actuary National Health Accounts and described in the journal Health Affairs.

Government analysts said a slower rate of growth in consumer out-of-pocket spending for health care compared to 2008 "was due mainly to declines in out-of-pocket spending for dental services, services provided by nursing care facilities, and physician and clinical services, sectors that account for a relatively large share of out-of-pocket spending.

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Dental Drill Noise - Dentist Fear - Noise Cancelling

It is widely known that the sound of the dental drill is the prime cause of anxiety about dental treatment, and some patients avoid trips to the dentist because of it. This new device could help address people's fears and encourage them to seek the oral healthcare treatment they need.

The prototype device works in a similar way to noise-cancelling headphones but is designed to deal with the very high pitch of the dental drill. Patients would simply unplug their headphones, plug the device into their MP3 player or mobile phone, and then plug the headphones into the device, allowing them to listen to their own music while completely blocking out the unpleasant sound of the drill and suction equipment. The patient can still hear the dentist and other members of the dental team speaking to them but other unwanted sounds are filtered out by the device.

Containing a microphone and a chip that analyses the incoming sound wave, the device produces an inverted wave to cancel out unwanted noise. It also uses technology called 'adaptive filtering' where electronic filters lock onto sound waves and removes them, even if the amplitude and frequency change as the drill is being used.

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February is National Dental Health Month - focus on children's habits now

Everyone knows that brushing every day is a key to strong, healthy teeth - but that's not all there is to do.  

Figures from the Adult Dental Health Survey reveal that common dental products such as mouthwash and dental floss aren't being used as part of an all-round routine, with just 31% of people using mouthwash and just 22% using floss.

The same data also showed 42% of adults only use a toothbrush and toothpaste, with only 27% saying they use an electric brush.

That could be why two in every three adults have visible plaque, and also why one in three children will start school with obvious dental decay.

That's also one reason why the American Dental Association (ADA) promotes February as National Dental Health Month, and often has a focus on children's oral and dental health, so as to star the right habits early.  

Some common tips to teach children about dental care include:

Start healthy habits early. The standards are:

  • Brush thoroughly with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice daily, or for better results, brush after every meal.
  • Floss teeth daily, or use an interdental cleaner to remove plaque from the gumline area and the sides of the teeth.
  • Limit the number of between-meal snacks.
  • Visit the dentist regularly.

Keep on the look out for Signs of Gum Disease

Gum disease is usually caused by plaque that produces toxins which irritate gum tissue. During puberty, gums can become more sensitive to these toxins because of hormonal changes. If your kids notice any of the following signs of gum disease, take them to the dentist:

  • chronic bad breath
  • a bad taste
  • pus that appears at the gumline
  • red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • detachment of gums from the teeth
  • teeth that have loosened or changed position

Watch What They Eat

Kids are known for eating sweet snacks, fast foods and meals on-the-run, and these are habits that create tooth decay and dental problems. If desserts are going be eaten, they should be eaten at meal times when other foods help neutralize their damaging effects. When snacking, encourage eating foods that are good for teeth like nuts, popcorn, cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt, and sugarless gum or candy.

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Heart Disease - Poor Dental Hygiene - Dental Health

Researchers in the UK have determined that there is another reason for people to continue flossing and brushing their teeth. It turns out that the same bacteria of the gums that causes dental plaque may get in the bloodstream and cause clots that will increase risk of heart disease and heart attack.

This study was conducted by researchers for two different universities in Ireland and was presented at a meeting of the Society for General Microbiology at the University of Nottingham, UK.

The leading professor of the study presented the findings at the meeting. He also stated that poor dental hygiene can result in gums that bleed which provide bacteria a route in the bloodstream, where they cause blood clots that can lead to a heart attack.

He added that everyone needs to be aware that it’s not only blood pressure, cholesterol, exercise, and diet that people need to be aware of, but that poor dental hygiene will increase the risk of heart problems.

Disease of the gums and tooth plaque are the result when Streptococcus bacteria builds up in a person’s mouth of they don’t floss and brush regularly. Disease of the gums makes the gums bleed, which permits bacteria to go in the bloodstream.

The study found that after the Streptococcus bacteria got in the bloodstream, they use a protein that stays on the outer surface, hijacks the blood platelets and forces them to make blood clots.

The bacteria encase themselves completely in the platelets that are clumped together which enables them to hide from antibiotics. This helps the bacteria because this clumping of the platelets can result in the inflammation of the blood vessels which can cause blood clots that may block the blood supply to the brain and the heart, heart valve growths.

A study is now being conducted to determine how the protein causes the blood platelets to clump together to see if there is a way to block it. This work is being accomplished by the use of a new blood flow model that mimics the circulatory system in humans

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Dry Mouth - Drugs - Dental Health Articles

People who take multiple drugs for health conditions may be more likely to notice effects on saliva or taste, a study concludes.

The study involved 531 people who visited a cardiology clinic in Saudi Arabia. About 14% of them had at least one oral symptom, including:

  • Dry mouth (8%)
  • White or grey patches in the mouth (4%)
  • Problems involving the sense of taste (2%)

For most people, these conditions were not bothersome.

Dry mouth was more common in women, and in people with diabetes.

No specific heart drug was linked with any of the three conditions in this study. But the researchers did find that people who took multiple drugs — including drugs for non-heart-related conditions — were more likely to have mouth-related symptoms.

Many drugs for heart conditions can have effects in the mouth. For example, some drugs for high blood pressure or congestive heart failure can cause dry mouth. Dentists call this condition xerostomia. Dry mouth can increase the risk of tooth decay. Experts recommend that people give their dentist a list of the drugs they are taking, and their doses.

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Dental Insurance - Dental Coverage - Health Insurance

About three out of four persons under age 65 years with private health insurance had some type of dental coverage. Among persons with dental insurance, more than one-half had a single-service dental plan only, or in addition to dental coverage through their comprehensive health insurance plan.

Non-Hispanic white persons were more likely to have dental insurance through a single- service dental plan only than non-Hispanic black, non-Hispanic Asian, or Hispanic persons. Poor persons (less than 100% of poverty level) were more likely than higher income persons (400% or more of poverty level) to have dental coverage through a comprehensive plan only.

Approximately 45 million persons under age 65 years with private health insurance did not have dental coverage in 2008. About 7 out of 10 persons who directly purchased their own private health insurance plan had no dental coverage compared with about 2 out of 10 persons with employment-based insurance. About 40% of persons with less than a high school education had no dental insurance of any kind.

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National Dental Hygiene Month - Dental Hygiene - NDHM

With the theme "Healthy Habits are Easier than You Think" for its National Dental Hygiene Month (NDHM) celebration this October, the American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA), in collaboration with Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, manufacturer of Orbit® sugarfree gum, promotes the idea that good oral hygiene habits are simple to establish and maintain, even for the person living an active lifestyle.

"It is imperative to our overall health to have a healthy mouth," ADHA President Caryn Solie, RDH, said. "Brushing, flossing, rinsing with an anti-microbial mouth rinse and chewing sugarfree gum are easy ways to help avoid issues that could affect the status of your oral health."

"Brush, Floss, Rinse, Chew" is a reminder that maintaining good oral hygiene habits can have lasting effects. Keeping a healthy mouth can help prevent oral disease.

Brushing your teeth for two minutes at least twice daily can reduce plaque build-up and the risk of diseases like cavities and gingivitis; flossing removes plaque and food particles under the gumline and between your teeth; rinsing your mouth each day with an anti-microbial mouth rinse is another important step in preventing gum disease; and chewing sugar-free gum like Orbit® after eating stimulates saliva production, which helps fight cavities, neutralizes plaque acids, remineralizes enamel to strengthen teeth and washes away food particles.

In tandem with this initiative, the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company Foundation has established a Community Service Grant Award program with the ADHA Institute for Oral Health to fund initiatives providing oral health services and education in all 12 of the ADHA's districts across the country.

"Wrigley is committed to improving the general understanding of the role of sugarfree gum as part of a healthy oral care routine," says Pat Alexander, Sr. Marketing Manager, U.S. Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program. "We are committed to providing services that help improve oral health and lives; this extends to our support of the American Dental Hygienists' Association National Dental Hygiene Month."

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Dental Implants - Dental Technology - Implant Information

Dental implants have offered a successful way to restore teeth for more than 20 years. New challenges for improving the process include shortening the time to restore functionality and meeting aesthetic demands. Altering implant surfaces to help promote bone integration is one solution. SLActive, a new chemically-modified surface for titanium, the standard material of which implants are constructed, has shown positive results in this area.

An article in the August issue of the Journal of Oral Implantology reports a 98.2% success rate for SLActive at dental patients' one-year follow-up. A noninterventional study was conducted to compare these results with previous findings of high survival and success rates among the same type of implants in a controlled clinical trial.

In this noninterventional study, results were obtained under common dental practice conditions where patient selection was not restrictive and technique was not controlled. Thirty dental clinics in Italy participated, and 226 patients were treated. Patients presented with a variety of risk factors, and both early (48 hours to 3 months) and traditional (3 to 6 months) loading of the implant was performed.

Osseointegration-the connection between living bone and artificial implant-can determine stability of the implant over time. Surface properties of the titanium implant, such as topography and roughness, can assist the chemical and biological interface that occurs in the early stages of healing and thus influence the long-term outcome.

The 98.2% success rate of this study was similar to that reported in formal clinical trials. The high success rate in both studies shows that the SLActive implant surface can be safely used with consistent, predictable results. Patients can expect integration of their implants that restores functionality for chewing and speech as well as aesthetics.

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