According to new research undertaken by the King’s College London Dental Institute, many surgeries in the UK are failing to properly inform their patients of the risks associated with dental implants; more specifically the possibility of nerve damage. The results of the study suggest that because the number of implant procedures has risen in recent years, so too have the number of patients suffering nerve injuries; around one per cent of treatments result in nerve damage, out of approximately 10,000 carried out across the country.
Of the thirty people with nerve problems tested, over half of them suffered constant pain after surgery, and forty percent complained of numbness in the jaw. More worryingly, a third of participants reported experiencing feelings of depression and other psychological problems.
Study leader Professor Tara Renton says that patients are not being given the correct information or care before and after the treatment; ‘In our study of a collection of implant patients with injuries we discovered that pre-operative consent, planning and follow-up after surgery was inadequate.’ She says, ‘Clinicians must be vigilant about potential nerve damage when carrying out these surgical procedures.’
Professor Damien Walmsley, of the British Dental Association, comments that no surgery is entirely risk-free and patients should be made aware of the possible side effects beforehand, he also points out that ‘the risk of nerve damage will vary according to where an implant is inserted in the mouth, but dentists take the precautions necessary to minimise this risk and achieve a successful outcome.’