Whether an emergency crown or a long-planned-for set of veneers, dental restorations can last a lifetime. But these and other restorations require care, just as do natural teeth. New guidelines from the American College of Prosthodontists help practitioners and patients keep restorations in top condition.
The ACP led a panel of experts who critically evaluated and debated findings from two comprehensive systematic reviews covering a decade of the research literature. In formulating the clinical practice guidelines, the panel considered this top risk: failure of tooth- and implant-borne restorations.
"The new clinical practice guidelines will help dentists and hygienists to standardize effective oral health maintenance and improve patient care," said Donald A. Curtis, DMD, FACP, of UCSF's School of Dentistry. Curtis and Lily T. Garcia, DDS, MS, FACP, put the guidelines to the test with rigorous peer review to ensure that they are sound, scientifically-based and can improve patient outcomes for long-lasting restorations.
Regular dental hygiene is just as necessary for restorations — crowns, bridges, veneers and implants — as for natural teeth. In addition, the new guidelines recommend patients visit their dentists at least every six months for clinical exams, during which restorations should be cleaned, adjusted, repaired or replaced as needed. The guidelines not only recommend how and how often practitioners should see patients for dental restoration maintenance and follow-up, but how they should educate patients to take care of the restorations at home.
"Although clinical practice guidelines are often used in medicine, they have not been used as much in dentistry," Curtis said. "Adding a clinical practice guideline on this important topic will establish a baseline and help to standardize care."
And maintaining that standard helps patients as well as clinicians.
"Often patients are unaware of the required brushing and general maintenance needs when they have expensive implant restorations," said Carl Driscoll, DMD, FACP, president of the ACP.
"If you don't take care of your restored teeth," Garcia added, "you are at risk of losing your teeth and your investment in them."