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Tips for choosing an Implant Dentist

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Implant dentistry is NOT recognized as a specialty by the American Dental Association; therefore, any general dentist can deem themselves an implant dentist. This makes it hard for patients to find a dentist with the right skills and credentials to complete an implant case. Here are some tips on how to appropriately search for an “implant dentist”.

 

1.  Training

In dentistry, as in any other trade profession, knowledge and skill is passed on from masters of the trade. Dentists who are formally trained to perform implant procedures include prosthodontists (a specialist in reconstructive dentistry, some trained in both implant surgery and restoration), oral surgeons, periodontists (specialists in a surgical placement of implants), and general dentists who have an advanced degree in general dentistry (required to complete 1-2 years of ADA accredited implant oriented programs). All these professionals go through rigorous 3-6 years of university or hospital based post-graduate programs and board certification process. There may be other dentists without formal training in implant procedures who express interest and talent in the field. Patients should not hesitate to ask their dentists questions about their training.

2.  Associations
Implant dentistry is not a recognized specialty by the American Dental Association and membership with the American Academy of Implant Dentistry and other non-specialty organizations alone does NOT automatically guarantee the dentist is good. This only shows that a dentist is serious about the field because he is willing to invest in the membership. These organizations promote educational opportunities, offer support of a respected credential and serve as forum for exchange of ideas. Only ADA recognized organizations such as American College of Prosthodontists, American College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons or American Academy of Periodontology require a credential verification process leading to a specialty license.

 3.  Before-and-After Photos of Real Cases

An experienced implant dentist will have an album or online gallery of before-and-after cases for your review. Ask the dentist to show you a case similar to yours.

 4. Reviews
The best reviews are always by word of mouth. There are online sources for reviews where some information can be found.  Although the online reviews are not always credible, they may give you an idea of what to expect.

 

iCat5.  Technology and Anesthesia
Dentists interested in modern procedures often have advanced technology such as digital X-rays, intraoral cameras, chair side monitors, and dental lasers. Ask your potential dentist about the technology in his or her office. You may also want to find out what kind of anesthesia or sedation is offered.

 6. Comfort

How do you feel in the dentist’s office? Is the staff friendly? Do you feel like you can ask questions, and do you like the answers you receive?

 7. Time Requirements

How long will it take the dentist to finish your smile makeover? Does he or she have any vacations planned during your treatment? It is important to find out the how long the whole treatment process will take in order to schedule any future plans.

 8. Written Treatment Plan
It’s ideal to arrange your implant procedure on a piece of paper. Before committing to a treatment plan, always ask for a written treatment plan with approximate time of completion and specifics about what is going to happen.

 9. Second Opinion

It’s always best to get one or two second opinions.

 10. Miracle Treatment

Be cautious when everything seems too good to be true. This specially applies to implants where 3-9 months of healing are involved.

 11. Payment Options
Some insurance policies cover implant procedures. In addition, you will probably want to work with a dentist who accepts credit cards or offers payment plans. Many implant dentists work with CareCredit, Chase Health Advantage, or Wells Fargo for third party patient financing.

 12. Scheduling

What are the dentist’s office hours? Do they suit your schedule?  With any surgical procedure, it’s best to be seen as the first patient of the day, when your doctor is well rested and on time.

 13. Location
Implant procedures can require multiple visits. Is the dentist’s office conveniently located close to your home or work?

14. Conclusion

Don’t let just anyone try their hand at improving your smile. While implant dentistry that is done correctly is safe, effective, and long lasting, when performed incorrectly, can lead to disaster and major expenses. Be bold about interviewing your dentist. Some dentists offer a free cosmetic/implant consultation so that you can meet and discuss your expectations. Once you find a dentist that meets most of your criteria, proceed with an exam and listen to his or her treatment plan. Discuss financing and scheduling. Make sure you feel comfortable and confident in the dentist’s office. A beautiful, strong, comfortable smile that’s built to last can improve your self-confidence and open doors of opportunities you never knew existed.