I had the fortune to work with Professor Patrick Henry, who brought implants to Australia in the early 1980s. I’m still in the same practice, so I've inherited a lot of his patients. As a result, I have patients that have had implants for over 30 years. I've had a good relationship with Nobel Biocare throughout that time.
My practice is almost 90 percent implants. I treat everything from the simplest indication to some of the more complicated cases. One benefit of my partnership with Nobel Biocare that makes a big difference to my patients is versatility – that I can go to one company and I can treat everything from a single tooth to maxillofacial applications. I don't believe there is any other implant company that can do that.
I think that Nobel Biocare’s heritage in research as well as the variety and versatility of different components is particularly good. I know that Nobel Biocare has a greater focus on research than any other dental implant company, and I can really rely on that evidence to provide solutions for my patients.
I’ve known clinicians who use other implant systems but still have Nobel Biocare implants placed in their own mouth, which says a lot.
“Like trying to fit a Ford carburetor to a Mercedes”
The ‘system’ way of working: only using implants and their respective prosthetic components – all from the same company – is something that I've always done. I've only recently realized that other people are not necessarily doing that. I think they're then seeing problems that I've never had.
As my practice is a referral-based practice, I get to see a lot more complications coming through. A lot of these are related to the prosthetics that go on top of the implant. You may have a beautifully placed implant with fantastic soft tissue, but all that can be ruined with the wrong abutment. Poor contours, fit, all of the things that we take for granted using Nobel Biocare products can suddenly become undone very quickly.
It's now become a lot more obvious that the whole system is really important. Ignoring it is like trying to fit a Ford carburetor to a Mercedes, it just doesn't work, especially in the long term.
Even though a company might say its product is compatible with an implant, when you actually look at it and you get down to the nitty-gritty, there might be some small design differences. Those small design differences, the contact area of an abutment within a conical connection for instance, can put enormous strain and stress on the implant, which can then loosen the screws and even cause implant failure. I think it's actually very critical that the implant, abutment and the prosthetics on top all come together as a system.
Innovation for the right reasons
I think that the development of new clinical solutions is something that Nobel Biocare does extremely well.
This innovation may be to treat patients in a better way, achieve more esthetic outcomes, treat patients faster or improve predictably in more compromised sites. Sometimes it’s innovation just to help reduce costs, to be able to offer implant dentistry to more patients. Maybe it’s just to improve the function of a mandibular overdenture, for instance. This sort of innovation may not always be particularly exciting, but it can make a huge difference to certain patients.
There is a large population that is edentulous or nearly edentulous, who can't afford some of the more elaborate implant restorations. They would just like to improve on their dentures. I think innovation at multiple levels is something that Nobel Biocare has done well for a long period of time.
For me, Nobel Biocare is like the Formula 1 of the implant world – a lot of the things that come out of Nobel Biocare eventually start to trickle down to other companies. That's a good thing, because it raises the overall level of implant dentistry. This benefits us as dental professionals and, ultimately, our patients.