A healing technique that has been used for many years in hospitals but gained widespread attention in the field of sports medicine is now making waves among oral surgeons and their patients. In Central Virginia, the technique is being used in at least one oral surgery practice, and a patient who had the treatment calls it “fabulous.”
It’s called platelet rich plasma, or PRP. It’s a sort of medical fertilizer, made by
spinning down a person’s own blood in a centrifuge until it becomes a rich, concentrated mixture of plasma (the clear, straw-colored liquid component of blood) and platelets (one type of blood cell that prevents bleeding and attracts growth factors.) The PRP is injected directly onto injured tissue to speed healing.
Formerly confined to hospital surgical use because of its expense and the need for large quantities of blood, more recent technology has allowed the process to be done in a physician’s office, with very small amounts of a patient’s own blood. The self-donation of the blood prevents the fear of disease transmission as a result of blood donated by others.
Platelet rich blood has been the rage among recreational athletes for years, spurred by the treatment of such superstar sports stars as Tiger Woods for treatment of ailments ranging from hamstring to tennis elbow.
In Central Virginia, oral and maxillofacial surgeon Mitchell Magid, D.M.D., brought the procedure with him when he established the Mountainview Oral Surgery and Implant Center in Lynchburg a few years ago. He began incorporated PRP into his practice while he was Chairman of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at MeritCare Hospital in Fargo, ND.
Louise Smith of Bedford became Dr. Magid’s patient when a root canal on one of her lower left molars failed and needed to be pulled. Louise had taken meticulous care of her teeth all of her life, they are a source of pride for her, and she did not want a missing tooth. Her two choices were a bridge, which she did not want, and an implanted tooth. She chose the implant, and her dentist suggested she go to Dr. Magid.
“It has been a fabulous experience,” she says. “The office staff puts you at ease immediately, the decorum in lovely and the equipment — wow, the equipment they have is unbelievable!”
Louise says that from the first, Dr. Magid described her implant as “a work in progress.” What that means is that this type of care may require frequent short visits to the oral surgeon, to be certain that healing is going well and that the new foundation for the implanted tooth is coming along as expected. “I’ve never had so much attention,” Louise laughs.
On the day of extraction of her molar, a small amount of blood (a little over a half-ounce) was drawn from Louise in much the same way that we all have blood drawn for lab tests. As Dr. Magid extracted the tooth, technicians prepared the PRP and mixed it with tiny bone substitute particles, which Dr. Magid then injected into the extraction site. Louise had an anesthesia that made the process pain-free.
Dr. Magid then covered the site with a collagen coating, stitched the gum closed and then sealed the whole thing with a tissue glue. “What we are doing,” Dr. Magid says, is preserving the socket that is left by extraction of the tooth. The PRP fills the socket in, prevents excess bleeding, and promotes faster healing. And there is a lot less pain this way.”
“Then we let is sit and heal for 4-6 months.” Dr. Magid continues, while we check it frequently and take x-rays to make sure it’s healing properly.” That’s the “work in progress” part of it. When the “new” bone has bonded to the jawbone, Dr. Magid will uncover the implants and attach small posts that protrude through the gums and will act as anchors for the artificial teeth. When the artificial teeth are placed by Louise Smith’s own dentist, the posts will not be visible.
“I’m almost 80,” Louise Smith says, “but I am so glad that I had the implant done and I feel lucky to have had it with PRP by Dr. Magid. All I need to do now is to be around long enough to enjoy it!”
Why Have Implants?
Your teeth should last a lifetime, but sometimes they don't. And it’s important to replace missing teeth not only for cosmetic reasons, but for health reasons as well. With a tooth missing, you cannot bite or chew food properly, and a missing tooth can allow neighboring teeth to drift, become loose, and create further dental problems.
Dental implants are not the only option, but most experts believe that implants are a much more predictable and permanent solution than other approaches such as bridgework or resin bonded bridges.