How to Choose a Dental Implant Expert ?

img Stan Jones imgMarch 28, 2019

How To Pick The Right Dentist For Suitable Dental Implants

No patient would like to make compromises when it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of vital organs such as heart, liver, lungs, kidney or brain. Then why should our teeth be any less? After all, they are as important a part of our health as are family and financial assets to our well-being.

Usually, we follow our instincts and choose and hire the best accountant, babysitter, electrician, physician or construction engineer we can find, and don’t hand over professional tasks to ill-trained people.

But as far as doctors are concerned we seem to be either following a herd mentality or falling prey to advertisements that promise the moon at the cost of taking a cab to the nearest mall. We tend to swallow everything that a doctor or a dentist recommends without first checking their recommendation, expertise or experience, and select a physician purely by insurance acceptance.

The Broken Tooth of Dentistry

In particular, the field of dentistry is facing a bit of a crisis. Too many doctors know a lot about teeth but not much about their specialist care. As a result, while people don’t allow plumbers to fix their electrical wiring and an ENT specialist to heal their hips — patients are falling for easy solutions and not thinking smartly about choosing the right dentist for relevant procedures like dental implants.

One of the problems is that the presence of easily available and continuously updated medical knowledge has made it easier for doctors to learn a lot but made it difficult for people to catch up and make informed decisions. They end up relying on whatever they are told, which is not to say that you should not listen to your doctor. It pays to do your own research about what you want in a dental situation.

In this era of super-specialization no doctor, especially a general physician or even a regular dentist can keep up with the latest in their fields.

Take the case of dentists and dental implants. Implants have completely changed the way missing teeth are given a new lease of life, increase confidence of the patient, and also look aesthetic, are super functional, and improve general oral health.

Ever since the Swedish Dr. Branemark introduced and evolved implant dentistry about 50 years ago, the field of dental implants has undergone a sea change. Today, it’s one of the most successful procedures, which can be performed with more than 98% success rate. Skilled surgeons trained in recognized residencies, improved understanding of healing and biology, unceasing advances in techniques, and a better understanding of biology and healing are the primary reasons why the success rate has become a possibility.

This mastery has not been easy. It has taken dentists lifetimes in learning about dental implants, executing thousands of procedures, reading the latest research, and attending numerous conferences to arrive at this point in their profession.

The Root Of The Problem: Weekend Courses

The remarkable journey in dentistry faces serious quality and trust issues created by vested commercial interests. In the past few years, a trend has emerged.

Dental implant companies and some study groups are sponsoring ‘weekend’ courses for general practitioners to encourage them to buy their products and also carry out highly demanding and technical procedures on their patients. These companies stand to make a massive profit as general dentists are the leading type of dental practitioners and can ensure huge sales.

Weekend courses are insufficient to arm dental professionals with the medico legal standard for implant placement. And this problem gets worse during times of economic down turn as patients dry up. To compensate, they carry out specialized procedures themselves instead of referring them to specialists.

With quality compromised, complaints are piling up: increased infection failed implants, poorly positioned implants that cannot be restored, loss of jaw bone, and nerve damage, and many other problems. This is very alarming as the dental industry has worked extremely hard to provide cutting-edge services to patients through decades of toil guaranteeing incredible success and predictability.

Alarmed by falling standards, the Institute for Dental Implant Awareness (IDIA) recently put out new training guidelines for basic implant placement. One hopes that implant companies and organizers of ‘weekend’ courses change their modus operandi and comply with protocols. But this will take time, and the battle will not be easy.

Choosing The Right Dentist

So what should you do as a patient if you want to get dental implants? Here are some major questions to ask your dentist to make an informed decision about the treatment and, ultimately, your oral health.

1) Scrutinize the specialty: Only periodontists and oral surgeons receive training in formal implant surgery training in residency programs that are accredited. Advanced surgical training is also attained by some prosthodontists. Caution: An ‘Implantologist’ is not an accredited or recognized specialty, and does not indicate training.

2) Are their courses legit? A specialist takes up courses from legitimate, professional organizations, and all of them provide details about the type, of course, duration, dates, and sponsorship. You need to check if they are supported or endorsed by professional associations.

3) What’s the batting average? Ask about the number of dental implants placed, which a skilled surgeon or specialist does frequently — by the hundreds if not thousands. If they haven’t, question their qualifications.

4) Is the dentist well-connected? Dental implant specialists always engage with each other. Ask if you can get the perspective of the experts they know. It’s your right.

5) Past patients: The experience of past patients is important. Ask to speak to other patients’ testimonials.

6) What, how, when: You want to know what you are getting into. Query receptionists and assistants about dental implants: time taken for the procedure, how it works, and what happens step-by-step. Chances are, if they don’t satisfactorily answer, the dental practice doesn’t perform them.

7) Detailed information: A dental practice with a focus on dental implants will readily provide supporting articles, before and after photos, brochures, and other detailed information.

The Last Lap Red Flags

After fact-finding and zeroing on a dentist, it’s time to pay the dentist a visit to see if your scrutiny has paid off or will you need to keep looking. Here are some other red flags to further screen the search for the right dentist.

1) The over-confident dentist: If a dentist says, “This is an easy one, I can handle it,” beware! It’s almost never that simple.

2) The salesman-dentist nexus: No points for guessing why an alarm should go off if you find a dental implant sales person in the office when you visit for treatment.

3) ‘The lone star’: Be wary of a dentist who claims he knows everything and does anything.

It’s not just implants: hard questions should be asked about other specialized procedures such as grafting, wisdom teeth, extraction, orthodontics, and root canal.

As dentists, we should aim to give the best possible care to serve the interest of our patients, and we must remain devoted to this responsibility and oath. At the same time, patients, too, should make an effort to get involved and make informed decisions about their health.

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