Have your ever inherited a case with an unknown implant type that you need to identify in order to treat?  If it’s not happened to you yet count your blessings, but rest assured at some point it most likely will.  While some times getting to the bottom of what implant you are dealing with can be as simply as calling the office that placed it, assuming that you know what office placed it, other times this just won’t be enough.  If you are wondering “how is that not all you need to do?” the sad fact is that sometimes records are lost due to things like fire and other times, believe it or not, the proper information was not ever documented or simply lost. 

Furthermore, while also somewhat surprising, the fact is that sometimes the patient does not remember who placed the implant or implants.  So the question is “what do you do when a simple phone call does not give the information you need?” Having to struggle with this myself I would like to share some tips in hopes of making your and your patients’ lives easier should you find yourselves in this predicament.

  1. First and foremost is getting diagnostic radiographs of the implant or implants in question.  To get the most accurate information you need an image with as little distortion as possible of the platform, body and apex of the implant or implants in question.  For me this might mean only one periapical radiograph; often a bitewing is often helpful if not critical.  It is important to note I would not reply on a panoramic radiograph as they have too high a level of distortion.  Additionally most CBCT’s will typically also have too much artifact around the implants.
  2. The next step is making an identification from the images.  If you are lucky you will have a really good idea what implant it is on your own.  Even if you think you know what implant it is I also recommend sharing the images with colleges you trust as they can often have experience with making an identification too and it never hurts to have more than one set of eyes look and agree on the identification.
  3. Once you think you have an identification you can further confirm your deduction with the manufacturer.  Typically the technical support department is excellent at this.
  4. Lastly if you just can’t make an identification or you simply want to further confirm your deduction, the Spear TALK discussion forum is a great resource. Post a question and receive answers from your peers and the Spear Faculty. Not a member? Sign up today

While I hope you do not find yourself in this predicament too often if you do I hope you will find this tips helpful.

John R. Carson, D.D.S., P.C., Spear Visiting Faculty and Contributing Author


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