Our long-term objective is to devise methods to improve osteotomy site preparation and, in doing so, facilitate implant osseointegration. As a first step in this process, we developed a standardized oral osteotomy model in ovariectomized rats. There were 2 unique features to this model: first, the rats exhibited an osteopenic phenotype, reminiscent of the bone health that has been reported for the average dental implant patient population. Second, osteotomies were produced in healed tooth extraction sites and therefore represented the placement of most implants in patients. Commercially available drills were then used to produce osteotomies in a patient cohort and in the rat model. Molecular, cellular, and histologic analyses demonstrated a close alignment between the responses of human and rodent alveolar bone to osteotomy site preparation. Most notably in both patients and rats, all drilling tools created a zone of dead and dying osteocytes around the osteotomy. In rat tissues, which could be collected at multiple time points after osteotomy, the fate of the dead alveolar bone was followed. Over the course of a week, osteoclast activity was responsible for resorbing the necrotic bone, which in turn stimulated the deposition of a new bone matrix by osteoblasts. Collectively, these analyses support the use of an ovariectomy surgery rat model to gain insights into the response of human bone to osteotomy site preparation. The data also suggest that reducing the zone of osteocyte death will improve osteotomy site viability, leading to faster new bone formation around implants.
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