The pain and high cost of dental implants could be a thing of the past as Griffithresearchers test the use of artificial bone to replace missing teeth.

The four-year study, which has been granted a National Health and Medical ResearchCouncil Grant of over $66,000, is being undertaken by PhD candidate and periodontist DrJamil Alayan from Griffith University’s School of Dentistry and Oral Health.

Dr Alayan and his team are using the latest tissue engineering technology to producetotally synthetic bone “scaffolds” that can be grafted into the patient’s jawbone. These will
then provide a viable foundation within which to place titanium dental implants.

“Traditionally, people with missing teeth who have lost a lot of jawbone due to disease ortrauma, would need to have these replaced with dental implants using their own bone.

“This bone is usually derived from their jaw, but occasionally it has to be derived fromtheir hip or skull.

“These procedures are often associated with significant pain, nerve damage and post-operativeswelling, as well as extended time off work for the patient,” said Dr Alayan. “Inaddition, this bone is limited in quantity.

“By using artificial bone, we can instigate a much less invasive method of bone and toothreplacement. A big benefit for the patient is that the risks of complications using this
method will be significantly lower because bone doesn’t need to be removed fromelsewhere in the body. We also won’t have the problem of limited supply that we have
when using the patient’s own bone.”

Currently in pre-clinical trials, Dr Alayan said the aim is to trial the new technology onhumans within the next two to three years.

Regarding the anticipated cost of treatment, he said that this should be a less costly way ofaugmenting deficient jaw bone, with the saving expected to be passed onto the patient.