10.5 Questions to Ask Your Implant Dentist
1. Is your implant dentist a board certified specialist?
Any dentist with a diploma can legally place an implant. A specialist with surgical training has taken additional years of training to learn proper surgical skills.The dental specialty boards require high standards of training and performance and ensure them by rigid examinations. Successful applicants receive diplomas in their specialty. To become “board-certified” and then receive “diplomat” status in their particular specialties additional rigorous testing must be passed before the specialty board. Periodontal specialists take two to three years of residency training after four years of dental school. The recognized standard-setting organization for Periodontists is the American Board of Periodontology.
2. How long has your dentist been placing dental implants?
I have been placing implants since 1985. It has been the most challenging aspect of my career. After all these years, I am still learning and I often face challenging situations that require the kind of extraordinary experience and skill that only comes with over 25 years of experience.
3. How many implants does he or she place a year?
You want the dentist that places your implants to be experienced and knowledgeable in handling the most routine dental implant procedures, as well as the most complex dental implant procedures. There is a difference between someone that places 15 implants a year and someone that places hundreds every year.
4. What is their training in dental implants?
As frightening as it may seem, many dentists today take one or two-day courses on dental implant placement, work on plastic model jaws and/or buy surgical implant kits to get started in dental implant placement. Even more frightening, some dentists surgically place dental implants on unsuspecting patients with less or no training whatsoever. You should ALWAYS check to make sure your dentist has the proper training, experience and credentials. Experience matters.
5. 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 textbook. The best implant dentists routinely photograph and document their cases to learn, teach and brag. Thats right, to brag. Here at the Silberg Center, we love all of our success stories and show them proudly. Make sure you ask to see actual cases before you choose your implant dentist. (See OUR SUCCESS STORIES .)
6. Can you see a list of the continuing education courses that your dentist has taken in the past 12 to 24 months?
All state licensing boards attempt to establish minimum standards of practice in the dental community for specialty practices and procedures. Despite the efforts of the state licensing boards, these efforts do not guarantee that your dentist is qualified to perform specialty procedures, especially when it comes to placement of dental implants. A dentist that actively pursues excellence in implant care will spend 50 to 100 hours or more a year in continuing education and study, to hone, refine and update their treatment skills. Make sure that your dentist measures up. Ask to see the list of courses. Dr. Silberg routinely spends 90 to 100 hours a year in continuing education.
7. Does your dentist offer a comprehensive initial exam prior to diagnosis and treatment?
A practitioner that only looks at your missing tooth or teeth is not interested in the long-term health and success of your dental implants or your total dental health. You should always make sure your initial exam includes the following evaluations:
- An oral cancer screening
- An overall examination of the health of your gums
- A complete bite evaluation including patterns of looseness and tooth wear and overall bite function.
- TMJ function
- Adequate size and shape of the bone and adequate amounts of gum tissue in the area of the proposed implant
8. How many dental implants does the dentist keep on hand?
There are many situations that call for different implant sizes than were originally planned. A dentist that places hundreds of dental implants a year will always have 30 to 40 additional implants on hand to address unforeseen changes in your treatment situation. A dentist that only orders implants for individual cases may not be able to handle every situation that arises.
9. Does the dentist have the latest technology to diagnose and treat?
Advanced technologies and the latest science not only offer faster diagnosis and treatment, but ensure a more effective course of treatment. Some of the latest technologies and treatments available that we use to maximize the effectiveness of your treatment include: (See OUR SCIENCE.)
- Digital X-rays: Make the surgery faster, safer and more predictable (it takes 4 seconds to see a digital image).
- SimPlant and Implant Logic Cat Scan Software systems that allow us to view 3-dimensional computer images of the jawbone to properly plan and perform successful dental implant treatment. We can visualize your implant surgery on the computer before we perform the actual treatment.
- Platelet Rich Plasma: Treatment that utilizes the patients own blood platelets to promote better and faster healing after a surgical treatment.
- Growth Factors to enhance the speed and the quality of healing process.
10. What brand of implants does your dentist use?
The fact is that some dental implant companies have been researching the science of dental implants for over 20 years, and some are copycat companies that are manufacturing cheap, low-quality knock-off implants , that are marketed to dentists as low-cost dental implants . Ask yourself: Do you want an implant from a company that promotes being the low cost leader in dental implants or one that is from a worldwide leading company with 20 years of research and science? Better yet, ask your dentist!
10.5. Do you trust your dentist to do the right thing and do the thing right?
If you need a complex procedure like a bone graft or a sinus lift does your implant doctor have the latest and the best training for that procedure? Do they have a long track record of success?
Keep this in mind: the decisions that you make today may affect you for the rest of your life so make them carefully – if you are making your decisions mainly based on the costs involved and if you decide to compromise and take a short-cut you may just get what you pay for.