I need to replace a tooth. Everyone says dental implants are the best replacement. Are there implant specialists or can a general dentist do them?
Max L. – Connecticut
First, I’ll say, yes, dental implants really are the top of the line tooth replacement. Be aware that not everyone is a candidate for dental implants. There are some conditions which are contra-indicative, like gum disease. Or, if you’re a smoker, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a good dentist willing to go forward with the procedure. If it turns out you’re not a candidate, there are other good options which we’ll discuss momentarily.
As to whether or not you need a dental implant specialist, that’s a yes and no. There isn’t actually a recognized specialty in implants, so any dentist who does them is a general dentist. However, it takes some additional training than what they get in dental school to be skilled in this procedure.
Dental Implants are an advanced procedure, with potentially severe complications if things go wrong. Because of that you’ll want to be bold in asking the dentist some blunt questions. Some things to ask are “What type of implant training have you had?” “How many implant procedures have you performed?” “What percentage of them are successful?”
So, what if you’re not a good candidate? Whatever dentist you go to should give you all your options. For instance, the next best procedure would likely be a dental bridge. In fact, if your adjacent teeth need a crown, a dental bridge might make more sense for you.
The important thing is you find a dentist you trust and then have them explain all the procedures you’re a candidate for.
This blog is brought to you by Dr. Mike Malone.