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How to choose your Implant Dentist (the questions to ask)?

Any dentist with a dental degree can legally place an implant. Periodontal specialists complete two to three years of residency training after their four years of dental school. During residency, they are trained in surgical skills and procedures and the research-based knowledge supporting that treatment. The successful applicant receives a certificate or diploma in their specialty. The Periodontal specialist can then pursue becoming a Board-certifed Periodontist. This is a three year process that involves multiple tiers of rigid examinations to ensure that the highest standards are met. Once this rigorous testing is passed before the specialty board, the Periodontist is then Board-certified and receives Diplomate status in their specialty. Only about 2,000 periodontists have achieved Diplomate status since 1939. The recognized standard-setting organization for Periodontists is the American Board of Periodontology.

How long has your dentist been placing dental implants?

Implant technology has improved greatly in the last few years making them easier to place. Many dentists are now starting to place implants without the advantage of extensive training nor clinical experience.

How many implants does your dentist place a year?

You want to be assured that the dentist that places your dental implants is experienced and knowledgeable in handling the most routine implant procedures, as well as the most complex implant procedures. There is a difference between someone who places 15 implants a year vs. someone who places hundreds a year.

What training has your dentist had in dental implants?

As frightening as it may seem, many dentists today are taking one or two day courses on implants, working on plastic model jaws then buying surgical implant kits to get started in dental implant placement.

Can you see a list of the continuing education courses that your dentist has taken in the past 12-24 months?

All state licensing boards attempt to establish minimum standards of practice for dental practitioners. Despite the efforts of the licensing boards, this does not guarantee that your dentist is qualified to perform specialty surgical procedures, especially when it comes to placing dental implants. A dentist that actively pursues continuing education in implants is passionate about implants and committed to learning the latest techniques and refining and updating their treatment skills to provide excellence in implant care.

Does your implant dentist offer a comprehensive initial examination prior to diagnosis and treatment?

A practitioner that looks only at your missing tooth or teeth is not interested in the long-term health and success of your dental implant or how it will impact the overall aesthetics and function of your entire mouth. You should always make sure your initial examination includes the following:
·  If your tooth is not yet missing, the tooth’s long-term prognosis should first be determined.
·  An overall examination of the health of your gums.
·  A complete bite evaluation including patterns of looseness and tooth wear and overall bite function.
·  Assess if the space of the missing tooth and the size, shape and amount of bone and gum tissue in the area of the proposed implant is adequate for implant placement.
·  Determine where the sinus and nerves are and accommodations that need to be made prior to implant placement.
·  Discussion with you regarding all the findings the advantages, disadvantages of treatment options proposed and final treatment decided upon collaboratively by you and your dentist.

Does your implant specialist show you before and after photos of cases that they have done to demonstrate their competence?

Anyone can show you a picture in a dental journal or in a text book. The best implant dentists routinely take photographs and document their cases. We love all our success stories and show them proudly.

What brand of implants does your dentist use?

There are many implant systems available for practitioners to use. It is very important to use only implants from the most reputable implant companies with a consistent, historically proven track record of successful osseointegration and final results that you can depend on.

What is your implant dentist’s success rate?

Improved technology has made implants easier to place but the practitioner must still assess and treat each case individually to ensure a predictable and successful outcome. An implant specialist’s success rate is representative of that practitioner’s overall knowledge, skills and clinical judgement. A seasoned professional knows when the situation is just right to place the implant, knows how to place the implant with functional, restorative and esthetic considerations addressed and knows what adjunctive procedures may need to be done before, during and after implant placement.