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Osteotomy Irrigation: Is it Necessary?

Flanagan, Dennis DDS

doi: 10.1097/ID.0b013e3181dc9852
Basic and Clinical Research

Surgical placement of dental implants requires an osteotomy. There is suspicion that osseous drilling may generate detrimental heat in the site that may cause localized bone necrosis and, subsequently, failure of the dental implant to osseointegrate. Cooling aqueous irrigation has been advocated to prevent such overheating. However, irrigation can interfere with operator vision and precludes bone shaving collection from the drill flukes for use in autogenous grafting. Small diameter drills may generate more heat than larger diameter drills and may need to be irrigated when smaller diameter implants are to be placed in dense bone. Contemporary larger diameter drills may not generate detrimental heat and may incrementally remove any heat damaged bone from the previous drilling. It may be safe not to use irrigation for less bone dense sites when larger diameter drills are used. In addition, higher drill force and speed may minimize osseous heating by minimizing the time of in-bone drill operation and heat generation. Irrigation to prevent bone heating during the osteotomy may not be necessary when using contemporary drill designs with an expeditious drilling technique.

Private practice, Willimantic, CT.

Reprint requests and correspondence to: Dennis Flanagan, DDS, 1671 West Main St., Willimantic, CT 06226, Phone: 860-456-3153, Fax: 860-456-3251, E-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.