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Dean George is the Marketing Specialist and Content Creator for Dental Insurance
Store and its social media channels. He is a regular contributor to Agent Straight Talk, the
only consumer blog explaining the ins, outs and in-betweens of dental insurance and
discount dental plans. READ MORE

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3D-Printed Plugs May Revolutionize Implants

Jul 16, 2019

By Dean George 

Two important things to know about dental implants: 

First, they are expensive; second, they are prohibitively expensive since most dental plans don’t cover them as a plan benefit. Most insurance carriers consider implants a cosmetic procedure – like liposuction or Botox lip injections. 

Free tip: Paraffin lips are cheaper and get you bigger smiles.



What’s that? Oh, right.  My editor Hannah tells me I’ve digressed from today’s topic – and in record time!  

Regarding the cost of dental implants, please don’t shoot the messenger.  As previously written in this space, we know the advantages that implants offer over conventional dentures:  how they look and feel like real teeth, they are more durable than dentures and often last a lifetime, and how the easiest way to clean them is to simply brush them as if they were your own – which they are – if you can afford them. 

If our readers will put down their pitchfork and torches, we’ll share the good news: 

Today the cost of a typical dental implant procedure is roughly estimated at between $3,000 to $4,000 per tooth (No, that’s not the good news).  The good news is those costs could drop by as much as $2,000 depending upon the results of clinical trials being held early next year in Singapore, Indonesia. 

Thanks to a new treatment process developed by the National Dental Centre Singapore (NDCS) in partnership with the Singapore Clinical Research Institute (SCRI), both the complexity and cost associated with dental implants may see a steep decline in the next few years. 

Researchers have created a biodegradable dental plug which promotes bone growth in the jaw, a process that currently takes about three months after which titanium or ceramic tooth roots are implanted.   

The new dental plug designed by Osteopore International facilitates bone growth by preventing the bone from being absorbed by the body as often happens when a tooth is lost. The experimental dental plug is designed for immediate insertion into the tooth socket after a tooth extraction to prevent resorption (a breakdown in bones which result in a transfer of calcium from bone tissue to the bloodstream.)



An earlier version of the plug in 2016 using a material-like bone was tested in 13 patients and was found to facilitate bone growth and prevent decomposition in tooth sockets without a dental plug. 

The latest-generation Singapore plug should be an improvement because it is made of a composite material which is bioresorable (dissolves over time and can be absorbed by the body) and is enhanced with tricalcium phosphate (TCP) to decrease the time it takes to degrade. 

This is important because it allows patients to have their implants placed sooner, results in less pain during the procedure, and eliminates the need for bone grafts if too much resorption has occurred. 

Tired of winning yet? Good, because there’s more good news:  these experimental dental plugs are made of synthetic materials and are 3D-printed in bulk.  Each 3D-printed plug is estimated to cost $100 to $400, considerably less than today’s plugs cost. 

As previously noted on this site, more dentists are using 3D cameras and laser technology in their practices, but if the new dental plugs prove successful, the use of 3D printing could revolutionize both the cost and time of obtaining a dental implant. 

“If successful, the bioresorbable 3D-printed dental plug will significantly improve the experience of patients who need dental implants,” said Goh Bee Tin, the NDCS director who is leading the trial. 

The clinical trial for the newest dental plug is recruiting 138 patients to participate with a cutoff date of January 2020.  For more information on the upcoming trails, email research@ndcs.sg

Thanks for reading Agent Straight-Talk. For more information on implants and other oral health technological advances, walk towards the light and follow us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and LinkedIn

Sources: straitstimes.com, sgh.com
Photo sources: The Straits Times 


Copyright 2019, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC© 

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