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Solve a mystery and preserve a smile: Expect the extraordinary from Nobel Biocare

by: Philippe Thomas

Great detective work and dedicated service from Nobel Biocare made all the difference in the world. For Belgian Sales Manager, Philippe Thomas, “Partnering for Life” with his customers is not something he takes lightly. While a typical day for him may involve any number of customer interactions, he was recently asked to help solve an intriguing mystery.

Not long ago, a dentist called to ask if I could help him with a mysterious case in need of some sleuthing. It involved an elderly patient he was treating. She was nearly 90 years old and had a fixed bridge that was screw retained. So far, so good! Then came the conundrum. Apparently, the implants that had been used were called “Biotes.”

In my over 25 years of experience at Nobel Biocare, I had never heard of Biotes. I politely told him it didn’t sound like a product from Nobel Biocare and I suggested it might be a French company.

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Short-lived brand

He was skeptical and explained that the patient has some old, faded documentation which looked like the first page of a leaflet for Biotes with the Nobelpharma logo on it (Nobelpharma became Nobel Biocare in 1996).

The material provided another helpful clue: The name “Professor Chantal Malevez” was handwritten on the page. Professor Malevez, a renowned clinician and researcher, has been a Nobel Biocare customer since 1987. That was exactly the break I needed!

I went to the dentist’s office immediately to see the case journal and review the evidence. Everything was exactly as he had explained it: five fixtures with what looked like standard abutments in the lower jaw and a fixed screw-retained bridge in gold and acrylic material on top. 

As I examined the Biotes document, I was still puzzled. The patient remembered that she received the document from Professor Malevez, who placed the implants in 1988 or 1989, according to her recollection.

Professor Chantal Malevez is a specialist in maxillofacial surgery and known internationally for her groundbreaking work with edentulous patients and implant technologies.

After a quick conversation to explain the case, I received a return call from an engineer who confirmed that Biotes was indeed ours. The Biotes brand was the commercial precursor to the first Brånemark System implants I was told. Professor Malevez was among the very first to use them. Compared to our Brånemark System MKII implants, Biotes had a higher hexagonal connection on top (1 mm instead of the usual 0.7 mm). The bottom line: Because we keep all our production files, new components could be made!

Proud to serve

Nobel Biocare was able to produce the devices needed: a new abutment and abutment screw to replace the originals, which were damaged. Four weeks later the patient’s bridge was repaired without any problem. I was very proud, and here’s the reason why:

After more than a quarter of a century, Nobel Biocare found—in only a few hours—what the customer and the patient needed. That's all part of our commitment to the well-being of your patients.

Mystery solved and the patient happy, I got in touch with Professor Malevez to share the good news. She was pleased, but hardly seemed surprised. From the very beginning of her career, she explained, she has always treated her patients with special confidence in our products. 

“For me, it is essential to work with a company that can continue to provide components for implants that have been in place for decades,” Professor Malevez said.

Related: Tried and true

Thinking ahead

I’m especially thankful that she provided her patients with the kind of background documentation that made it possible for us to track down the original product in this case.  

The professor made it clear to me that when a clinician chooses an implant product, he or she is also choosing the company that stands behind it. It is the clinician’s responsibility to choose wisely:

“Patients are not always aware of the science behind implants,” she said. In fact, “many of them do not remember which implants have been placed in their mouths. 

“If you are a good clinician, and you respect surgical principles, many (different) titanium implants will integrate. Complications start when the components are not perfectly adapted and do not offer what I call ‘industrial precision,’ but then it is too late.”

Professor Malevez and Nobel Biocare became “Partners for Life” long before the phrase became popular, their mutual commitment well-articulated: “to always provide a safe solution for patients with components that are designed to work together.”

Related: Are you taking risks with your restorations?

A matter of trust

Malevez explains: “I know the industrial precision of Nobel Biocare components, and I know I can trust them. 

“Some differences cannot be seen by the human eye,” she said, “but are significant nevertheless. The contact surface between an implant and other components can be destroyed by a bad adjustment, and once the surface is destroyed, you can’t just change the integrated implant.”

Now when a customer asks about mixing and matching products or does not want to offer patients material to be able to trace product history, I tell this story. Our products and solutions are designed for life and I am proud to be able to serve my clinicians throughout the lifetime of their patients.

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