It’s a misconception that you can just walk into any dentist’s office and get dental implants. It doesn’t work like a WalMart or Target.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons, periodontists, and prosthodontists are recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA) as professionals who can place dental implants. These professional attended extra schooling to be ADA certified.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons attend an additional four years of training after dental school as well as a year of anesthesia training. And periodontists and prosthodontists attend a surgical training program for three years after dental school.
So you know they’re overqualified to be doing dental implants.
Dentists can go through training to receive a certification to place dental implants, but their training — however sufficient — is usually nowhere near the length or depth of surgeons and periodontists.
Why You Should Choose A Dental Specialist Over A General Dentist
When it comes to the surgical procedure of dental implants, it’s best to choose someone who specializes in the field rather than someone who performs the procedure as just one of the “tools in their toolbelt.”
Someone who has had extra training on dental implants will better be able to provide top-notch care. Which means the experience will be better overall for you.
Specialists Lower The Risk of Complications
This might be the best reason for choosing a specialist over a general dentist for a dental implant procedure. The more knowledge and experience a dental professional has, the less likely there will be complications.
Getting a dental implant is a big decision, both for your lifestyle and your wallet. So the specialist you choose to perform the procedure could affect a big part of your life. Yes, a general dentist with certification may cost less than a specialist, but they also have less training.
Specialists Offer High-Quality Aesthetics
Dental implant specialist typically have better equipment and more advanced dental technology. This means that, on top of their additional training, they have the tools to make the artificial tooth and surrounding gums look more natural and more aesthetically pleasing.
Specialists Can Better Manage Gum Disease
Whether it’s a periodontist, a maxillofacial surgeon, or a prosthodontists, they will be an expert on the treatment of gum disease, if it were to occur. As a part of their dental implant training, they learn the specifics of gum diseases and infections and how to treat them.
How To Choose The Best Dental Implant Dentist
Choosing the right dental specialist for you can sound overwhelming, but with the right resources and focus, it’s not too difficult. Here are some tips on how to make this decision as well as questions to ask during the process.
What To Look For In A Dental Implant Specialist
First and foremost, you want to make sure they’re certified to do dental implants, preferably by the ADA and the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID). The best option to choose a dental implant specialist rather than a general dentist because of all the extra schooling and training required of a specialist.
Questions To Ask
When you are trying to choose the right specialist for your procedure, it’s a good idea to ask questions of yourself, the professional, and the professional’s staff and office.
Here are some questions you can ask:
- What are the specialist’s office hours? Do they work with your schedule?
- Is the specialist’s office easy to get to?
- Where did the specialist go to school? How much training did they receive?
- Does the specialist participate in continuing education?
- What type of emergency services do they offer?
- What is the cost of this professional? Are they upfront with their out-of-pocket fees?
- Does the specialist’s office participate in your health plan?
- Does the specialist explain treatments and procedures well?
- Are there long wait times (for appointments and while in the waiting room)?
- If I need 24-hour assistance, can the specialist accommodate me?
- Do they take good care of the office space?
- Is their dental technology up to date and high quality?
- Is the specialist and their staff open to and helpful with answering questions?
Cost Of An Experienced Dental Implant Specialist
Other factors that can affect the total cost include preoperative procedures, like X-rays ($25-$200) and bone grafts ($250-$3,000).
One reason they cost so much is because you may need to make multiple visits for all the stages of the procedure. More visits means more money out of your pocket, and insurance may not cover everything or anything at all.
It may be worth it to look into a dental savings plan, which start at just $97 a year and can save you up to 60% of dental procedures.
You may also consider going abroad to get your dental implants done in Ecuador, Costa Rica or Mexico. It’s called “dental tourism” and it’s getting very popular lately.
How To Find A Dental Implant Specialist Near You
There are a number of tools and resources that can help you find a specialist in your area. Here are a few of them.
Use The AAID’s Search Tool
On the AAID’s website, they have a search tool that allows you to search by zip code and set a mile radius. It will give you a nice little list of certified dental implant specialists as well as a map of their offices.
Ask Your Friends
Hearing about your friends’ first-hand experiences with specialists is one of the most helpful ways to find a good professional. The implant dentist will most likely be in your area and you can get the ins and outs of the quality of their work.
It might be a good idea to ask your friends questions on the list above.
Meet With Dental Implant Specialists
After you find a few dentists in your area, you can meet with them and their staff before scheduling an appointment about your implant. This is the perfect opportunity to ask them all the questions you have.
Also note the state of their office and ask about the quality of their dental technology. Try to gauge the atmosphere of the waiting room (are patients frustrated, happy, annoyed?).
If you don’t have any friends who have gotten dental implants, you can read online reviews of dental implant specialist.
One website that has plenty of helpful reviews of dental specialists is RealSelf.com. People who have had implants placed post their experiences (both good and bad) often along with photos of their mouth. Sometimes dentists will even chime in on the conversation to provide some expertise-backed comments.
If you need dental implants, it’s best to choose a specialist over a general dentist. Nothing against general dentists, but dental implant specialists are just more knowledgeable and experienced on the topic.
And when it comes to getting new teeth, you don’t want to mess around and take chances.