For the first time in Israel, two toothless children, ages five and six, were given the ability to talk, chew solid food, and smile again, thanks to dental implants they received from multidisciplinary health professionals at the Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Dental Medicine.
The treatment, a joint effort of the Pediatric Dentistry Department, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, and the Center for Maxillofacial Rehabilitation, is available in very few medical centers around the world.
The children suffer from ectodermal dysplasia, a rare genetic disease (with an incidence of 7 per 10,000 births), which affects the tissue that originates in the top skin layer–the ectoderm. The condition is characterized by a lack of nails, teeth, and sweat glands, as well as thin hair.
Traditionally, the accepted medical practice has been to wait until the child is grown and his tissues and bones are more stable before inserting implants. Because this disease, however, causes so many physiological and psychological challenges —making it difficult for the child to speak optimally, chew effectively, and fit in with his peers—the experts felt it was urgent to intervene earlier.
After the children had a thorough clinical check-up, a radiographic evaluation to determine location and size for the implants, and a meeting with Prof. Joseph Shapira, head of the Pediatric Dental Department, regarding the procedure, Prof. Rephael Zeltser, head of the Department of Maxillofacial and Oral Surgery, fitted the implants and inserted them into the children’s jaws. After the implants had a chance to settle in and the children had gotten used to them, the implant-supporting dentures were fitted by Dr. Eyal Terzi, Director of the Maxillofacial Rehabilitation Center.
While the adjustment period requires continuous work and patience to achieve the desired aesthetic and functional results, the children’s substantial improvements in appearance, responsiveness to eating, and social interaction made it clear that the rehabilitative process was a huge success.