Placement of dental implants is a procedure, not an American Dental Association (ADA) recognized Dental Specialty. Dental implants like all dental procedures require dental education and training. Implant therapy is a prosthodontic procedure with radiographic and surgical components. Using a dental implant to replace missing teeth is dictated by individual patient needs as determined by their dentist. An implant is a device approved and regulated by the FDA, which can provide support for a single missing tooth, multiple missing teeth, or all teeth in the mouth. The prosthodontic and the surgical part of implant care can each range from straightforward to complex.
What is dental implant?
Dental implants are a great choice for those wishing to replace a single tooth, several teeth or all of the teeth. The main goals for dental implant procedures are to restore functionality and make your teeth look good. Implants provide a strong foundation permanent or removable replacement teeth that match your natural teeth. By replacing damaged or missing teeth with artificial teeth that look and function like the real deal, dental implants offer a welcome alternative to dentures or bridgework that do not fit particularly well with the patient. Dental implant procedures, in their nature, are a form of oral surgery.
Dental implants are becoming an extremely common procedure when replacing missing teeth. Dental implants provide stability to a new or existing denture and is generally performed by a dentist or oral surgeon. A long-term solution that can easily last a lifetime if properly cared for. Although the technique used on the patient will vary by the dentist or surgeon and the implant material used, dental implants are effective and quick. Most patients recover rather quickly and are able to return to normal eating habits and procedures within a week of receiving dental implants. Like other surgeries, dental implants take time to process and heal completely. This, however, depends on the surgeon in charge of the dental implant operation.
Am I a good candidate for dental implants?
If you are missing one or more teeth, then you are maybe a good candidate for dental implants. But sometimes, you may require an additional one or two steps before dental implant surgery.
When you lose a tooth, the surrounding bone begins to deteriorate. To successfully get a dental implant, you need enough bone to support the post. So depending on how long your tooth has been missing, you may not have enough bone remaining.
If your tooth is extracted, then dentists can help you restore your bone with a bone graft. This procedure uses bone grafting material to build up enough bone structure for a dental implant.
The best part of the entire dental implant procedure is that often this can all be done under one roof. dental implant dentists are trained to prep, place, and restore your smile with dental implants.
Dental implant specialties can successfully carry out the following Implant procedures:
- Denture Implants
- All on 4 Dental Implants
- Mini Dental Implants
- Mini Implants
- Full Dental Implants
- Full Mouth Dental Implants
- Dental Crown
Dental implant is a specialty
A General Dentist who is trained to place and restore implants may be the appropriate practitioner to provide care for dental implant procedures. This will vary depending on an individual clinician’s amount of training and experience. However, the General Dentist should know when care should be referred to a specialist (a Prosthodontist, a Periodontist or an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon). Practitioners should not try to provide care beyond their level of competence. Orthodontists may place and use implants to enable enhanced tooth movement. Some Endodontists may place an implant when a tooth can’t be successfully treated using endodontic therapy. Maxillofacial Prosthodontists may place special implants or refer for placement when facial tissues are missing and implants are needed to retain a prosthesis.
General Dentists are experienced in restorative procedures, and many have been trained and know requirements for the dental implant restorations they provide. However, if a patient’s implant surgical procedure is beyond the usual practice of a dentist, this part of the care should be referred to another dentist that is competent in placement of implants. The referring dentist should effectively communicate and provide specific instructions and any necessary surgical guide(s) for appropriate care. Likewise, the patient should be referred to a Prosthodontic specialist (a Prosthodontist) if the restorative procedure is complex and beyond the usual practice of the General Dentist.
Prosthodontists may place implants as part of their patients’ reconstruction, but they also may refer with instructions and surgical guides when the implant placement is beyond their level of competence. An example would be referral to an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon for more complicated surgical procedures or for patients with serious medical conditions. Referral to a Periodontist would be indicated when a patient exhibits significant periodontal disease that needs to be treated in combination with the implant restorations. Dentists vary greatly in the procedures they perform and the ones they refer. Procedures that dentists perform should meet the standard of care for that procedure. A dentist should refer to a specialist those procedures they are not experienced and trained to do.
Dental Specialists also vary in their level of experience and training relative to the use of dental implants. Therefore, any practitioner’s implant knowledge and experience needs to be known by the referring dentist and to the patient regardless of the specialty. Placement of implants without careful diagnosis and treatment planning should be avoided. The more complex and extensive the care, the more important it is to obtaining a satisfactory outcome for the patient. Implants placed without proper planning can result in an implant being placed with improper position, orientation, or without adequate space for the restoration. This can result in compromise of function, durability, esthetics or any combination of these problems. Implants may even need to be removed to get anticipated results for the patient. In addition to producing a compromised outcome, restoration of improperly placed implants can be expensive and burdensome.
In summary, not all General Dentists and Dental Specialists perform dental implant therapy in their practice. When considering a dental implant, patients should ask what training and credentials a particular dentist has that makes them appropriate to be doing the implant procedure. Just as in medicine, consumers should research their dentist’s credentials and training. They should ask the same questions about any dentist(s) they may be referred to for all or part of the implant care. A list of some good questions to ask is below. Patients should check a dentist’s web site for information and also check for comments by patients on the web.
- How often do you do this procedure?
- How many times have you done this procedure?
- What has been your training in this procedure? How long was it? (weekend course, lecture, 14- 20 weeks CE at a dental school, or years of specialty training at an accredited dental school?)
- Where were you taught?
- Do you take lifelong learning / Continuing Education credit and if so, when, where, how often and in what area?
- What’s the success rate for this procedure for me and how long will it last?
- How long will the procedure take from beginning until I have my permanent teeth?
- Will I have to be without teeth for any period of time?
- How much will it cost for the entire treatment from start to completion?
- How much will it cost for follow-up maintenance of my restoration?
- What are alternative treatment options for this procedure?
- What training do you have in these alternative options?
- May I get my treatment plan in writing?
- How do you feel about me getting a second opinion?
How do doctors manage implant complications?
Ask if there is a charge for follow-up appointments if a complication arises. If there is a problem — for example, pain after hours that has not resolved — will the patient be sent to the ER, or can they come to the office for prompt personal care? unless the situation is life-threatening, there is no reason a patient should need to visit the ER.
What is implant success rate?
Practitioners who are placing implants should have tracking systems in place. The Dental Implant Specialists have placed thousands of dental implants with the success rate of at least 95%.
If receiving anesthesia, is the person administering the anesthesia a board-certified physician?
board-certified physicians provide expert level anesthesia and monitoring before, during and after surgery. They have completed rigorous anesthesia training beyond dental school, so they can properly respond to any emergency situation and keep you or your loved ones safe.
How will I be monitored during the procedure in going under anesthesia?
There should be at least two other staff members in the room who are trained and prepared to recognize and respond to crisis situations. There should always be vigilant monitoring. Ask if the office has EKG, blood pressure, pulse oximetry and end-tidal carbon dioxide monitors. If your doctor doesn’t have all of these, this should be a red flag. It is also appropriate to ask about the office’s safety record and if the doctor has ever been the subject of disciplinary action from a professional board or local government.
The Dental Implant Specialists perform their surgery in an accredited facility. they have met the most rigorous requirements for patient care. Any time that you are undergoing a surgery that requires IV sedation or anesthesia, you should ALWAYS have the surgery completed at an accredited surgery center. This ensures the safest outcome possible for the treatment.
Do they have systems in place to continuously check the resuscitation equipment and medications?
For facilities that administer sedation medications, this is not optional. Complications are not scheduled! Being prepared is vital. It is very important to regularly check to make sure all of the equipment is functional, and all the medication that is needed during resuscitation is present and not expired. This is a basic requirement for an accredited facility such as ours.