Why should you choose a surgical specialist (Oral Surgeon or Periodontist) for your implant surgery?

Patients have many options when choosing a dentist to perform implant surgery. The internet is replete with advertising for dentists performing surgical procedures including extractions, cosmetic surgery and dental implant placement. It is important to remember that with any surgical procedure there are significant inherent risks. Choosing the right surgeon avoids significant pitfalls to the discerning patient.

Patients should understand that there are significant differences between surgeons trained in postgraduate residency programs and those with abbreviated training. There are many dentists in today’s marketplace who have taken only weekend courses. The comprehensive training and experience of surgical specialists enables them to diagnose and manage the potential complications that can occur. There are a growing number of serious complications and failures with implants performed under untrained hands. Some dentists have attended training courses on surgical implant placement and have achieved satisfactory results for their patients. However, most of the non-surgical dentists are uncomfortable treating the complications that are routine for surgical specialists. As a result of this, patients have experienced serious complications that could have been avoided.

If you are considering dental implant surgery, asking the following questions can help you in choosing a surgeon:

1. Do you have formal surgical training in implants?

Graduate programs are found in dental schools and hospitals throughout the United States. These programs are generally two to six years in length and the top students are selected to fill these positions.

2. What is your specialty?

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons and periodontists are the only ADA recognized surgical specialists. If you are seeking treatment from general dentists or prosthodontists the surgical training should be suspect.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons treat patients with problem wisdom teeth, facial pain, and misaligned jaws. They also treat accident victims suffering from facial injuries; they place dental implants, perform bone grafts, and care for patients with oral cancer. Oral surgeons also perform facial cosmetic surgery. Following dental school, oral surgeons are surgically trained in the hospital and dental school setting for a minimum of four years. Some oral surgeons are also trained as physicians and completed medical school and further post-graduate training.

Individuals who call themselves Implantologists are not accredited specialists. The term Implantologist does not indicate extensive surgical training. The individual may have had extensive surgical experience on a case-by-case basis only.

3. What is the extent of your training experience and implant placement?

Most oral surgeons and periodontists will be more than willing to share their extensive training and experience with you including the numerous continuing education courses they attend each year. They are usually happy to tell you how many hundreds if not thousands of implants they have placed. If you are considering implant treatment provided by a non-surgical dentist, ask questions regarding their training as well as the number of implants they have placed.

4. Are there other patients that you can speak to that they have treated?

Frequently, dentists will have lists of patients that you can speak who can give you an honest review of the practice. You can also query online services such as yelp.com for an unbiased opinion.

5. Is there a member of your staff who can talk to us about implants?

Generally, the staff of trained surgical specialist can answer questions about dental implants and treatment alternatives. They are usually able to simplify complex clinical information and communicate information in a way that is easy for patients to understand.

6. What type of implant system are you using?

There are more than 80 systems available worldwide. Most reputable systems show research to substantiate success rates. Our doctors utilize the Straumann system, which is considered by many to be the gold standard.

7. Do they have a warranty for the work performed?

Many surgeons will provide a warranty for their work over a number of years.