Frequently Asked Questions for Patients

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.

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Q: What is the issue?
A: UNLV School of Dental Medicine discovered that one of its faculty members in the Faculty Dental Practice clinic re-used sterilized temporary healing abutments in their dental implant procedures.  The school’s best practice and the manufacturers’ instructions are to use each healing abutment only one time.

Q: Who is affected?
A: The re-use may have affected some of the 184 patients who received implants at UNLV School of Dental Medicine Faculty Dental Practice between 2014 and 2017.

Q: How does this issue affect patients?
A: The re-use of sterilized single-use implant healing abutments may put the patient at an increased risk that the implant may fail. 

Q: What is a temporary healing abutment?
A: A temporary healing abutment is attached to the dental implant, which is secured in the jawbone and allows the gum tissue to contract around the implant. The healing abutment is removed when the mouth is ready to receive the permanent implant or “cap”.

Q: Have those patients been notified?
A: The UNLV School of Dental Medicine has voluntarily notified the affected patients by reaching out to them via phone and letter to their last known mailing address.

Q: Is there risk of infection or disease?
Because the healing abutments were sterilized, we are not aware of any increased risk of the spread of infectious disease.

Q: Who can patients contact for additional details?
A: Patients who received the notification letter should contact the UNLV School of Dental Medicine’s Patient Care Manager, Claudia Nunez, at 702.774.2533. Spanish speaking staff members are also available. 

Q: What is the School of Dental Medicine doing for patients?
A: Patients are being offered free examination of their dental implant, and any necessary dental implant replacement or alternative treatment free of charge during the next three years.

Q: What actions has the School of Dental Medicine taken to ensure that any re-use does not happen again?
A: The School of Dental Medicine has reinforced its best practices to all dentists and staff. The school is hiring a compliance officer to oversee regulatory policies and procedures and will be among a small percentage of schools in the country that have a dedicated compliance officer.