We know that dental implants work well for a wide variety of people. In fact, it seems that every day we get good news about how people can benefit from dental implants, even if they have conditions that might have given us pause in the past.

Now a new study shows how even people who are on immunosuppression drugs after an organ transplant can get results that are just as good as people who have not undergone this type of surgery. In fact, the long-term prospects for patients on immunosuppressants seem very good.

Close-up of gloved hands passing the surgical scissors, operating room. It's been said that Organ Transplant Patients have success with dental implants

Long-Term Immune Suppression after Surgery

If you receive an organ donated by another person, doctors will put you on immunosuppressant drugs. That’s because they don’t want the immune system to attack the transplanted organ as soon as it’s recognized to be from another body.

The initial doses of immunosuppressants are very strong and can put a person at high risk for deadly infection. They can also interfere with healing from some injuries, including surgery. However, as a person recovers, the dose of immunosuppressants will usually be decreased, starting around 6-12 months after surgery, until it reaches a maintenance dosage. This dosage is continued basically forever.

Since the immune system plays an important role in healing after implant surgery (especially bone rebuilding), people were concerned that patients on these drugs wouldn’t be able to get dental implants.

However, as this new study shows, the use of immunosuppressants was, if anything, helpful.

Testing Dental Implants in Transplant Patients

Dental implants should be studied over the long term. Implants have the potential to be lifetime restorations, so it’s important to see how they function over long periods of time. This study does a good job with long-term follow-up, although the study population is small. The study looks at 28 kidney transplant patients compared to 28 matched controls. All transplant patients were at least 18 months after their transplant surgery. None of the transplant patients needed bone grafting, and they had all lost teeth six months or less before implant procedures.

Patients got their implants from 2001-2011, and were followed for a minimum of 84 months (7 years), a maximum of 192 months (16 years), and an average of 116.8 months (nearly 10 years).

The results showed that both groups had great success with dental implants. The transplant patients had a 100% survival rate for their dental implants. The control group had a survival rate of 98.84%.

There were some minor complications. About half of patients in both groups experienced mucositis, minor redness and swelling of gums,(46.8% of transplant patients and 48.8% of control patients). About 5.1% of patients in the transplant group and 8.1% of patients in the control group had peri-implantitis (symptoms similar to gum disease around the implants, but potentially related to titanium allergy).

Both groups experienced similar healing and reported pain.

Most People Can Get Dental Implants

This study shows that the more we understand about dental implants, the more people seem to be able to benefit from them. You might have been told in the past that you weren’t a candidate for dental implants for one reason or another, but it’s possible that more modern research reveals you are still a good candidate.

The only way to know for sure if you’re a candidate for dental implants is to talk to a dentist in person. Please call (585) 244-3337 today for an appointment with a Rochester, NY implant dentist at Contemporary Dentistry.