Implant shelf life: thoughts?

I read a thread from 2011 and I am involved in reviving this topic. U of Buffalo did a study resterilizing packaged implants/unopened with plasma/H2O2 vapor and it worked and also no evidence of bacterial contamination when left in original sealed packages. I am trying to find out if I can get a more recent study going because like others, I have ‘expired’ implants numbering in a couple $1000 dollars likely. It’s a scam. If there are any of you with unopened expired implants and would like to stay in touch, please let me know. I am an oral surgeon in Ithaca, NY. I think we should be able to place them with FDA permission when less than 10 years past the arbitrary manufacturer date, BTW, the manufacturer should be resterilizing them for a reasonable fee because they are more than capable of doing this. They could also be donated to poorer countries and used to replace teeth on less fortunate folks. Thoughts?


Agreed, How does something that is packed sterile, goes unsterile after a certain date, as long as there is no damage to the packaging? I have often wondered that when my implants expire.

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That makes sense to me also!

I would love to stay in touch - I also have a few thousand dollars worth of expired implants and was just about to throw them out! PM me if this is possible on this forum……

My email to stay in touch is to stay in touch
Scott Noren

I have always thought that if implants have a shelf life and can actually expire then a great production model would be to start removing all of these now expired fixtures from our patients and replace them with fresh ones… Please don’t do this but it make about as much sense to me as cashing one because of a date printed on the package of a piece of metal.

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Yeah, I hear and agree with you however, since we have to keep records of everything we are putting in patients’ bodies, i.e. bone graft, membrane etc. the issue becomes, if you are knowingly placing an “Expired” implant, one can be held responsible for failure in medico-legal terms. Hence, needing to rid off the “Expired” implants at a loss to the doctor. And Hence a Very Valid initial point, WHY is there an Expiration date? We should be able to either use it or Get equal exchange by the manufacturers.

However, it is proved by studies that for instance, expired implants can be resterilized with H2O2 plasma technique and could be used afterwards with no bacterial or microbial contamination. U of Buffalo did one of those studies but was not FDA approved so to speak. I think you could proceed with that if I can find a place to do it. The whole thing is a scam because the implant companies take a non sterile manufactured implant and sterilize it through an approved process and then slap an arbitrary date on it. Zimmer/Zimvie won’t take it back now if you are within 6 months of the expiration AND, if you bought the implant greater than 1 year ago EVEN if not expired.

I am talking to people within the FDA about this and will ask the FTC their opinion possibly as well.


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Part of them not taking it back stems from our system, i.e. Implant companies want to finalize their revenue for investors. If they have to take something back or exchange at a later date, then that revenue cannot be finalized at the end of the fiscal year, and the booked revenue becomes a moving target. I understand that, but I don’t have to agree to that.
However, they can provide a facility, and make more $$ by providing a service, for Sterilization, but that revenue is probably negligible so they don’t bother.
Maybe it is an idea for a service that you can sell. Off markets of sorts.
Just my $0.02

Don’t the implant manufacturers coat every implant nowadays? Is it possible that the expiration date relates to the degradation of these surface coatings over time?

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But then that just goes to the point Scotty is bringing up, Are those coatings not going to come off after implants have been placed, and as such, shouldn’t we be Removing pefectly fine implants and Re-implanting new ones so that we can Charge again? If “Coating” or Surface microporosities break down, then why don’t they break down in Vivo, and hence “Expired” being a made up problem.

Yeah, the coatings “come off” inside the patient, and break down in vivo. That is what they are designed to do. The coatings are there to help with osseointegration, not to provide any long-term benefit after osseointegration. They don’t have any purpose after osseointegration and if there is no coating left a few years, which there won’t be, it doesn’t matter because the implant has already osseointegrated.

However, before implantation if the coatings are degraded due to age, then the implants will presumably not integrate, as well. That is why there is a shelf-life.

Of course, I am only speculating here, as I’m not sure if the coatings really are proven to do anything vs non-coated, and/or whether they do degrade over time. It seems as if implants worked perfectly fine before all these fancy coatings. But, I suspect it’s the coatings which can get degraded over time and this could be why there is an expiration on implants. Even if the coatings haven’t been proven in rigorous studies, the implant companies market the coatings as helping with osseointegration, so they couldn’t possibly allow the implants to be used if the coatings are degraded. This would open up serious legal issues. Again, just speculating here…

The way I have always understood it is that the expiration date relates only to the integrity of the sterilization process and has nothing to do with the fixture or any surface treatment to the fixture. The sterilization process can only be guaranteed for a defined period of time but the fixture and its surface are durable. One should be able to resterilize and be fine but… I aint gonna be the one that does this cheap stuff. It does make me wonder though if some savvy minded business person might come along and establish a niche replacing old expired implant fixtures with fresh ones.

So as I mentioned before, I’m actually making calls to the FDA about Plasma gas, hydrogen, peroxide, sterilization, and using it to re-sterilize expired Dental Implants. University of Buffalo already did it but they did it overseas supposedly. I’m looking at two options. One option is that I start a company and do the marketing and start re-sterilizing Dental Implants probably starting out just in the US and Canada. The other option is finding a place that already has a sterilizer and working on, maybe even starting a business with them to resterilize them. They have indicators that show or prove sterilization just like with auto clave the big thing that I need to do is to try to find enough interest. There’s a market for it for me personally would save me hundreds if not a few thousand dollars other option is donating it to a Third World countrywhere they might accept the university of Buffalo premise that unopened expired implants are good for up to 10 years

I think the fact that there is an expiry date on the box, is just there to help the manufacturer keep track of the implants that are out there and has nothing to do with whether or not the sterility has been compromised