Implant-Supported Dentures Made Outside Australia

Dr Florian MackWhat you need to know if you are considering implant-supported dentures made outside Australia.

Quite often people are faced with the temptation to take a cheaper option and have dental treatment performed overseas, instead of finding a specialist in the dental profession locally, within Australia. However, the price doesn’t give you the whole story, there can be problems in maintaining those dentures.

The overall success rate of actual implant dentistry is very high. However, there are parts of both the implants and dentures that are compromised, as in the abutments as well as the dentures themselves. Figures show that 40 – 90% of the treatment modality is not without complications, as dental implants are known to fail.

I have many patients asking me if I can fix their broken implant denture that was made a few years ago outside Australia. It can be a long process.

This is an article written by the Academy of Australian & New Zealand Prosthodontists regarding overseas dental procedures.

What’s involved in fixing broken implant dentures?

I begin by identifying the problem. Breakdown of implant-supported restorations results from technical problems that can be divided into two groups:

1. those relating to implant components, and
2. those relating to the prosthesis or denture

Implant component failure can be quite complicated to repair, especially if there is a fracture to the screw that connects the implant with the denture or crown. In this case a special screw removal kit is required to separate the denture from the implants. At Your Dental Specialist we have all the necessary tools and a special screw removal kit.

Identifying why the prosthesis or denture failed can only be done once the denture is separated from the implants. It is then, that the implant can be examined. The reason why this is so important is because not only the denture, but the internal parts of the implants could also be damaged.

Identifying the type of implant system used

Prior to any repair of implant supported dentures, it is essential to identify the implant system used. However, in most cases the patient themselves have had very little information made available to them.

Information that will assist the dentist may include:

  • Access to, or copies of dental records from previous dentist
  • Invoice of dental treatments
  • Radiographic imaging
  • Patient’s knowledge about the implant system used

In most cases the dentist or the specialist will take an X-ray to identify the implant system. This is essential because each implant system uses its own individual screwdriver and spare parts. Some screwdrivers might be compatible with other implant systems, but some are not. To find the right tools the specialist or dentist needs to develop detective skills, and by accessing databases and finding where the image on the X-rays can be linked to, for a specific implant system.

Detective work done – System identified – What next?

Once the implant system is identified, the following list needs to be checked:

  • Do I have access to tools required?
  • Are the tools and implant system available in Australia? If not, it might be not certified as a medical device which means that we should not use it in Australia, so there is no chance to repair it or get permission to use those tools.
  • Can I order tools from overseas? If so, can the tools be imported legally?
  • Are tools certified by the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods Admin (ARTG)? This is the central point of control for the legal supply of therapeutic goods in Australia: if they are not certified, their import and usage might lead to legal complications.

Patients Beware!

Often patients, dentists or internet sites may state that the implant system is compatible with ‘Company X’. This is not always the case, so make sure you do your homework very well.

Beware of warranty claims, as using components of a non-generic part from ‘Company X’ is not covered by any warranty, although the part is ‘compatible’ with the implant system.

Look out for any visible morphological differences. Quite often it may state ‘compatible components’ but in actual fact they are not, which then impacts on the mechanical properties. Also, difference in quality may occur and errors in this area can be costly for both patient and dentist.

Consider these 3 important pieces of advice to consider before getting implant-supported dentures

  1. If you get implants, make sure your specialist or dentist uses an implant system you trust which is supported by good scientific evidence. What system do we use at YDS? At Your Dental Specialist we use the implant system from Noble BioCare which is a very well known implant system not just in Australia, but around the world.
  2. Make sure your dentist doesn’t use ‘compatible prosthetic components’, copies or components of questionable origin, even if they appear to be identical to the ones of the original system. Your Dental Specialist uses only original, nationally recognized and registered components.
  3. Ask your specialist or dentist for documents of your implant parts. In Europe, patients receive a plastic implant ID-card with all related information and a baseline radiograph, but this is not required in Australia. We provide all this information on request so you don’t have to go searching any databases or files.

The Bottom Line

Choosing foreign made implant-supported dentures exposes you to many unknown factors. A sale price is not always a bargain in the long run. Choose Australian made, registered components used by a local dental specialist and save yourself from future complications.

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