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UNLV dental school notifying patients about potential device failure

Posted at 3:20 PM, Mar 09, 2018

UNLV School of Dental Medicine is voluntarily notifying 184 patients seen in its Faculty Dental Practice regarding a potential risk for a dental implant failure.  

The implant failure could result from re-use of sterilized devices called healing abutments.  These temporary devices are used during the implant healing process and later removed when the tooth replacement or "cap" is put in place.

A recent review of the dental implant process at the school's Faculty Dental Practice Clinic identified that sterilized healing abutments were re-used. The manufacturer's instruction for this product and the UNLV School of Dental Medicine's best practice is to discard these temporary healing abutments after one use.

Symptoms indicating a dental implant failure include swelling, severe pain, discomfort, gum inflammation, or loosening or movement of the implant. UNLV School of Dental Medicine is engaging in outreach to all potentially affected patients, who were seen between 2014 and 2017. 

The school has called all affected patients and is following up with notification letters. Patients who have received the notification may schedule follow up examinations by calling (702) 774-2533. The school is offering these examinations, and any necessary dental implant replacement or alternative treatment free of charge during the next three years if failure is due to the reused abutment.

Because the healing abutments were sterilized, the school is not aware of any increased risk of the spread of infectious disease. Patients who have received the notification and are concerned about infectious disease may contact the school to arrange a testing plan.  

The school has notified the Nevada State Board of Dental Examiners, the Southern Nevada Health District, and Nevada Health and Human Services. 

Founded in 2002, the UNLV School of Dental Medicine's faculty and students conduct between 50,000 and 60,000 patient visits each year.