Who Provides Dental Implants?
Dental implant placement is not a dental specialty by itself. Many times it takes several dentists, working in different specialties, to provide the full treatment. From an oral surgeon to a prosthodontist to a periodontist, and even a general dentist, all of these specialists may aid in the placement or restoration of the dental implant. It also varies if you need a single replacement or a more extensive restoration.
One specialist may perform the surgery to actually place the dental implant, while another places the crown on top of the implant to complete the restoration (usually called “restorative implants”).
Typically, the implant surgery is performed by an oral surgeon or a periodontist, and the restorative crown is placed by a general dentist or prosthodontist. It’s important that all the specialists work together as a team for your dental implant treatment.
Why an Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon?
Oral maxillofacial surgeons are dentists specializing in surgery of the mouth, face and jaws. Oral surgeons receive an extra four to seven years of hospital-based surgical and medical training, after dental school. They prepare themselves to do a wide range of procedures including all types of surgery of the hard tissue (bones) and soft tissues of the face, mouth and neck.
Why a Periodontist?
A periodontist is a dental specialist with training in the diagnosing and treatment of the gum tissue and surrounding jawbone tissue. This specialist has an additional two years of extensive training after dental school. A periodontist devotes their time, energy, and skill to helping patients care for their gum tissue.
Why a Prosthodontist?
The prosthodontist examines and diagnoses disabilities caused by loss of teeth and supporting structures. They are specially trained to provide expertise in restorative treatment and they deliver smiles with high level function, maximum comfort and pristine esthetics. They are also known as “cosmetic dentists” and often focus on the esthetic aspect of a smile to improve the appearance of your teeth with bleaching, bonding, veneers, reshaping, orthodontics, and implants.
Why a General Dentist?
Your general dentist knows your dental history and specific needs. Most often, the general dentist will determine if you are a candidate for dental implants during your visits to their office. They may then either proceed with surgery at their office, or they may refer you to a specialist and then later provide the crown restoration that accompanies your implant.
Things to Look For
In deciding whether to use your general dentist for all the treatment or using the ‘team’ of dental practitioners, the most important consideration is the qualification of each doctor involved and their ability to work well in a team to provide you with the best care possible.
The following are some useful questions to ask the dentist who will be placing your dental implants.
Key Questions to Ask
How much training have you had in this procedure?
How many implant patients have you treated successfully?
How long have you been working with dental implants?
Where did you receive your training for dental implant placement and restorative care?
Do you offer a book of testimonials or references from previous patients?
Once you have your answers you’ll be able to make an educated decision on which route would be best for your implant treatment. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions that come to mind: it’s your mouth and you have to live with it for the rest of your life. Get the most out of it, enjoy your smile and be proud of your dental treatment.
Dental implant placement is not a dental specialty. Many times it takes several dental practitioners working together to provide the full treatment.
It’s important to look for a qualified dentist/specialist to perform the procedure. Once you are comfortable with your choice, you are on your way to a brighter, healthier, more confident smile.