You may have heard of PRP and its implementation in dentistry before. If you haven’t and you’re asking yourself, “What is PRP?” this is the article for you
PRP or Platelet Rich Plasma is a by-product of blood that is incredibly rich in platelets. PRP has been used for some time in hospitals to accelerate the body’s own healing process. It has only been fairly recently that advances in technology have allowed this same technique to be used in the dental office.
Although blood is mainly a liquid (called plasma), it also contains small solid components (red cells, white cells, and platelets.) The platelets are renowned for their importance in clotting blood. However, platelets also contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors that are very important in the healing of injuries. PRP is plasma with many more platelets than what is typically found in blood. The concentration of platelets (and subsequently growth factors) can be 5 to 10 times greater than regular blood. To develop PRP, blood must first be drawn from a patient. The platelets are separated from other blood cells and their concentration is increased during a process called centrifugation. Then the increased concentration of platelets is combined with the remaining blood.
Athletes like Rafael Nadal, Gareth Bale and Tiger Woods have undergone PRP treatment. They have credited their quick return to work to their PRP treatments. It has been studied and seen that PRP treatment does in fact increase the speed of healing wounds. The PRP has to be injected into to affected area in one of two ways:
• It can be injected (carefully) into the injured area along with a local anesthetic to encourage healing.
• It can be used to improve healing after surgery by having it injected into the area during surgery and having it prepped in such a way that it can be stitched into torn tissues.
There are several procedures that makes PRP desirable in dentistry; bone grafting
for implants (This includes onlay and inlay grafts, sinus lift procedures, ridge augmentation procedures, and closure of cleft, lip and palate defects), repair of bone defects creating by removal of teeth or small cysts and the repair of fistulas between the sinus cavity and mouth are all things that could be improved with the use of PRP.
The use of PRP also has many advantages:
1. Safety: PRP is a by-product of the patient’s own blood, therefore, disease transmission is not an issue.
2. Convenience: PRP can be generated in the doctor’s office while the patient is undergoing an outpatient surgical procedure, such as placement of dental implants.
3. Faster healing: The super saturation of the wound with PRP, and thus growth factors, produces an increase of tissue synthesis and thus faster tissue regeneration.
4. Cost effectiveness: Since PRP harvesting is done with only 55 cc of blood in the doctor’s office, the patient need not incur the expense of the harvesting procedure in hospital or at the blood bank.
5. Ease of use: PRP is easy to handle and actually improves the ease of application of bone substitute materials and bone grafting products by making them more gel- like.
Though there are some limitations, patients with bleeding disorders or hematologic diseases do not qualify for this in-office procedure. Although in some cases your insurance may cover the cost of PRP, the majority of the time you will have to foot the bill yourself. However, it is a completely safe procedure, sometimes taking only 40 minutes to complete.
In terms of dental implants, it takes 3 to 4 months after the insertion of the implants before fake teeth can be fitted. This is due to the fact that the wounds need time to heal. With the use of PRP the waiting time could be significantly reduced. This allows the patient to have the fake teeth inserted sooner and giving them their confidence back. Surgeries that may have a longer healing time, requiring patients to take time off work or having it alter their life in some way would no longer have to wait the extended period of time.
Overall, it looks like PRP will be the future of surgery, it uses the body’s own regenerative processes to heal faster. This results in safer procedures, quicker procedures and a faster healing time. It’s hard to see why this wouldn’t become the norm.
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