Over the last 40 years, implants have been gaining popularity in dentistry, resulting in over a hundred types of implants in service. Each new manufacturer and design has certain characteristics that differentiate it from the competition. As prosthodontists, we are faced with a myriad of patients whose implants may require our expertise. We are expected to know how to restore these implants, and so the question often arises: what implant is that?
In 2002, Sahiwal et al wrote three articles attempting to shed light on the confusion. The author began to categorize all implants according to their radiographic appearance: threaded versus nonthreaded, tapered versus nontapered, etc. The author included charts indicating which implants had each of these various characteristics. Although the data is presented in the article, the sheer volume of information presented lacks the easy integration of this categorization into everyday practice. This makes it a difficult task for a practitioner, with radiograph in hand, to quickly search through the hundreds of implants to determine what he needs to know.
With the information technologies available today, it is possible to present the same information in a format that would allow for quicker, easier radiographic identification of dental implants. By building a database of radiographic images linked to the various differentiating characteristics, we have used search engine-like functionality to create a reference that allows users to filter through the vast number of implants through identifying key characteristics. It also allows for visual verification by including the radiographs of all the implants. Taking this resource to the internet would make it possible for doctors to have easy reference to this information, making integration into practice quick and easy.
This helpful resource has been created by Dr. Nate Farley of Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, WI and Dr. Kent Howell of Advanced Dental Prosthetics a dental practice in Mesa, AZ specializing in dental implants and custom dentures.