“This shows a possible treatment route for a group of patients that we have not been able to help much,” says Peter Abrahamsson about his dissertation Intra-Oral Soft Tissue Expansion and Volume Stability of Onlay Bone Grafts at the Faculty of Odontology, Malmö University.
Implants are a common method of treatment today, and every year tens of thousands of patient have new teeth implanted. A great majority of treatments, up to 98 percent, are successful, but a small number of these operations fail.
“Infections can keep the implant from healing into the jawbone,” says Peter Abrahamsson.
Another reason the operation can fail is if there is not enough bone tissue in the jaw for the implant to fasten to. Today a number of methods are use to supplement the jawbone, with varying outcomes. Peter Abrahamsson has developed a new method that targets a small, but hard-to-treat group of patients.
“My method is suitable for use in patients who lack both bone and soft tissue, which makes it difficult for an implant to heal in.”
This involves, for example, patients who have lost their jawbone as a result of accidents.
In animal trials Peter Abrahamsson and his research group have shown that a so-called osmotic tissue expander increases the amount of soft tissue, which increases the likelihood of a bone transplant being successful.
“The expander is like a dried-out contact lens, and when it comes into contact with body fluids, it swells up.”
The dissertation also presents the findings from a clinical study with twenty patients who were divided into two groups. One group was treated with the osmotic tissue expander for two weeks. After the expander was removed, tissue was generated with the help of so-called particulated bone, that is, with powdered bone.
“This method enables us to use less bone to fill a larger volume than usual.”
The other patient group was treated in the traditional way, with the bone being augmented with the aid of so-called bone blocks. Both groups were treated for six months before receiving their implants. The patients in the two groups had largely the same treatment results.
The method using the osmotic tissue expander increased the volume of soft tissue and made it easier to cover the bone transplant. This may enhance the possibility of successfully treating patients that were difficult to treat in the past.
“I have shown that the expander functions and creates soft tissue in patients, and that was the main objective of my studies. But no more bone is generated in comparison with previous methods,” says Peter Abrahamsson.