Professor Birgitta Häggman Henrikson was granted the 2021 Eklund Foundation Scholarship for the promotion of odontological research at Malmö University for her project “CRUX – complications related to bruxism”. On her recent visit to TePe Oral Hygiene Products, she shared some interesting thoughts on the best conditions for long-term success of dental implants.
Congratulations on your scholarship! What will this study be about?
We will look at the survival of implant structures from a holistic perspective. Implant treatments are very expensive and should, of, course, last for long. But their survival depends on many circumstances – from patient-related factors to material-related ones. We will examine what factors are important and not important – and how to create the best conditions for long-term success right from the start. The study is a collaboration between different fields and departments, including Senior dental officer Christel Larsson at the department of prosthetics.
What patients will be included?
The study is further based on a dissertation which included 200 patients with different types of implant constructions performed at specialist dental care in Malmö. Bruno Chrcanovic at the Faculty of Dentistry followed these patients over a five-year period to identify implant losses and what factors affected the success rate. Now, as five more years have passed, we will meet the same patients and look into even more factors.
What kind of factors could that be?
Factors involved can be smoking, tooth loss, and the use of braces, to teeth grinding or clenching related to stress and reduced bite sensitivity. These factors affect the implants differently in the beginning and after a few years. We see that in the longer term, it is the material on top of the implants that plays the biggest role – for example, cracks can occur due to high strain. We use surveys and technical aids such as the BruxApp (where users self-report wake bruxism in real-time) and measurement of jaw muscle activity.
Can you predict any results of the study or how it can benefit patients?
Even if we probably can see a pattern already in a year’s time, all factors must be followed up unconditionally. It would be beneficial to be able to make an individual assessment and adapt the implant design for the patient already from the beginning. It would save time and money both for the patient and at the societal level; we should invest in high-quality, long-lasting dental care.
What does this scholarship mean to the project?
The pandemic has delayed the study somewhat, but we have made good use of this time by preparing the project and buying the necessary equipment, where the scholarship has come in handy. We are about to start in April and the study will run for five years.
What is your background?
I have been active as a dentist in England for 20 years, continuously conducting research alongside my work. In 2014, I moved back to Sweden and started working at Malmö Dental School. My previous research has mainly focused on pain and function/motor skills, but now it is a combination of areas.
As a professor, you are the supervisor of many research projects – what areas do they concern?
Many of the projects are partly overlapping, for example, studies on patients with long-term pain, which is also part of this study but not the main focus.
Thanks for the interview! It will be very interesting to follow your research.
The Eklund Foundation scholarship was instituted to promote odontological research with a focus on oral health at the Faculty of Odontology at Malmö University. It has been distributed by the Eklund Foundation since 2017.
Birgitta Häggman-Henrikson, specialist in occlusal physiology, was awarded the scholarship ofapprox. EUR 15,000 for her project “CRUX – complications related to bruxism” in 2021.