Dental Implant Aid aims to transform lives

A new charity has been established in Scotland to facilitate a treatment for individuals suffering with the effects of an atrophic edentulous lower jaw

12 April, 2017 / indepth
 Stewart McRobert  

Dental Implant Aid was set up in 2016 by Nick Malden. He is a dentist of long-standing, qualifying in 1977, who has worked in London, Papua New Guinea, and, for many years, Edinburgh Dental Institute (EDI). In 2008, he was appointed as a consultant in Oral Surgery at the EDI.

He said: “I’ve specialised in oral surgery and first became interested in dental implants in 1986 when a friend in America introduced the idea to me. I became convinced of its merits, especially for older people who have lost all their teeth.  For various reasons, principally cost, the procedure has not been able to be supported fully within the NHS, so in 2015 when a change in my circumstances allowed me to go part time, I decided to start Dental Implant Aid.”

An atrophic edentulous lower jaw can present itself in a number of ways. Common symptoms may include pain during eating, inability to control the lower denture during chewing, laughing, speaking, sneezing or yawning.

In severe cases individuals may avoid eating with others, even close family. Ultimately, they may become reluctant to wear a lower denture at any time.

According to Nick, these disabilities can have a profound negative impact on the quality of life of individuals, who are usually in their later years. They may often come to the conclusion that their condition is just another consequence of getting old and has to be accepted.

However, treatments are available. Nick added: “An optimally constructed full upper and lower denture may well help, even in severe cases. However, the placement of two anterior mandibular implants to help stabilise the lower denture is generally accepted as a cost-efficient method of helping to alleviate this condition.

“It’s a rewarding treatment when you see the benefits that it brings. People feel confident and happy to eat in public again and, sometimes, in front of their family for the first time.”

As mentioned above, the cost is one of the main prohibitive factors in making treatment available widely. Although treatment has been provided in small numbers in secondary NHS care and university teaching units over the years, it is mostly delivered by the private sector. Initial costs can be between £3,000 to £5,000 (using the existing denture where possible) and expenditure associated with lifelong maintenance must also be factored in.

Accordingly, Dental Implant Aid has two main objectives: 1) to establish the true need; 2) to facilitate treatment of those affected, for minimum or zero financial cost to them. “As a result, fundraising will be a major function of the charity,” said Nick.

He is asking dentists in Scotland to help. “I believe many potential deserving recipients of this treatment make enquiries of their dentist but are put off when the cost is mentioned. I’m asking that worthy cases are allowed to progress as far as an examination and, if appropriate, a referral made to the charity. I am asking therefore for chair side time pro gratis. While offers of financial help from members of the profession would not be turned away, it’s not our aim to seek financial support from colleagues, after all they have businesses to run.

“I have discussed this with colleagues who have been interested and encouraging. Clearly, the charity wants to help those who truly can’t afford the treatment and I appreciate that a difficult judgement may need to be made in such a selection. 

“I would ask this question though, does your practice already have such a patient on the books? Perhaps a recall of that difficult lower denture case may be justified.”

If Dental Implant Aid receives the right help there is the potential to transform the lives of many individuals.

Assessing the need

In Scotland, the number of over 75-year-olds is approximately 700,000 with circa 360,000 being edentulous. Even assuming only 1 per cent of these individuals is suffering with various effects of a resorbed lower ridge then this would represent a considerable disease burden in society. The Lothians and Borders area has a population of approximately one million people, which is 20 per cent of the Scottish total. Therefore, estimates suggest that more than 500 people in this part of the world could benefit from treatment now.

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Tags: Atrophic Edentulous Lower Jaw / Dental Implant Aid / Edinburgh dental institute / New Charity / Nick Malden

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