A new study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association shows that dental devices make up a very small portion of the devices responsible for adverse events. Of the devices associated with harm, the dental implant is the most common, although the most common adverse event isn’t really a patient harm.
Dental Device Injury Is Rare
For this paper, researchers looked at the FDA Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience database (MAUDE), where doctors, dentists, and patients can report adverse events associated with any type of medical device. Of the nearly 2 million adverse events reported over a 15-year span from 1996 to 2011, only 1.4% were associated with any type of dental device.
Considering about 65% of Americans visit their dentist at least once a year, and often twice, this is a really remarkable finding. It shows that, although dental anxiety is common, the dentist shouldn’t really be a major cause for concern.
Dental Implants Leading Cause of Adverse Events
Researchers identified the top 20 dental devices associated with adverse events and found that one device was far more common than any of the others: dental implants. Dental implants alone accounted for more than half (53.5%) of all adverse events reported. The second most common cause of adverse events was a denture adhesive, accounting for only 5.0% of events. Although this may make you think that dental implants are dangerous, it’s important to understand what the FDA means by “adverse events.”
Adverse events really includes any kind of negative outcome from a treatment. It could mean injury or even death, but most of the time, it means a relatively minor side effect. In fact, more than three quarters (77.3%) of the adverse events reported with dental implants were just a failure to osseointegrate. That’s right, far from causing harm, the main problem associated with dental implants is just that they’re not successful. Barely 0.8% of reports involved a dental implant fracture, and none of the others represented any kind of risk to patients.
If concern about the safety of dental implants has kept you from getting them, know that a close look at the adverse events shows there is very little risk.