Keywords: abutment screw loosening, calibration, implant screws, preload, screw-tightening, torque-limiting device
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to survey practicing clinicians and determine if differences existed concerning their use of torque-limiting devices (TLDs) and screw-tightening protocols, comparing this with existing universal industry standards.
Materials and methods: A nine-question survey was administered with 428 dentists providing data for three specific areas: (1) demographic information-TLD ownership, device age, frequency of use, and observations of screw loosening; (2) recognition information-calibration, reading measurements of the TLD, and the meaning of preload; (3) usage information-screw-tightening protocols and effect of speed during actioning of the TLD. Data collection was compared with industry standards for use of hand torque tools including ISO-6789 1,2:2017 and related texts pertaining to screw fastener protocols.
Results: The beam-type TLD was the most popular; however, 33% surveyed used it incorrectly. Most TLDs being used were older than 1 year, with only 6% calibrated. Forty-eight percent observed screw loosening less than once per year, while 44% reported three or more occurrences per year. A similar number used the TLD for implant placement and abutment screw tightening. Screw-tightening protocols varied. Preload was not understood by the majority of those surveyed.
Conclusion: Dentistry does not appear to adhere to the protocols and standards recommended by other industries that also rely on screw-fastening mechanisms and TLDs. Further education and training appears to be warranted in this area of implant dentistry to reduce the risks of screw-associated complications.