How to find the right dentist for dental implant placement and restorations

How to find the right dentist for dental implant placement and restorations

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The success of your dental implants depends upon two things. The aftercare and maintenance you provide, and the surgeon you choose to perform the procedure. How do you know who is a good dentist?

There are many dentists, but not all have the skill or the training to perform tooth implants. Just like any other profession, people specialise in different areas. Generally, if you want dental implants, you should be looking for oral and maxillofacial surgeons, oral surgeons, periodontists and general dental practitioners who specialise in implant placement and have gone through vigorous training. This doesn’t guarantee successful treatment but at the very least you know you are in capable hands and chance of treatment success is as high as it could possibly be due to your choice in implant placer.

What questions should I ask the dentist?

But how do you know if they are actually any good? To help you decide, here’s a list of questions we suggest you can ask. Listen carefully not only to what they say, but what they don’t say; and what you definitely don’t want to hear.

Are you an NZDA-credentialed implant dentist?

The New Zealand Dental Association is the governing body for NZ dentists and dental surgeons. They are there to help members of the public find the right person to perform their dental care. They also provide ongoing support, resources and training to their members. If your dentist is a member, this is a sign they are committed to ongoing upskilling and knowledge and are a trusted NZ dentist.

How many dental implant procedures have you performed?

This is pretty self-explanatory. Yes every implant placer has to start somewhere and just because it’s there 1st case doesn’t mean that they will be ‘ bad ‘, as long as they have been adequately trained. The most important thing is that you choose the correct surgeon for your requirements as you don’t want to choose a surgeon for a highly complex surgical treatment whom isn’t proficient at simple implant procedures yet. In these instances your dentist will more than likely refer you to a specialist whom is more experienced in the required procedure.

What’s your success rate?

In general, dental implant success rates are between 90 and 97%. The dentist should know how many they’ve done, and how many were a success. They may even be able to explain why some of them failed- whether the patient practiced poor oral healthcare, had secondary health related risk factors  or if they compromised their implant by smoking throughout the process. You can also ask about warranties at this point. OSSTEM Implant supplies lifetime guarantees on all their implants and components, so should implant failure ever be a problem you know we’ve got you covered.

What’s your education/ training in the dental implant procedure?

If they don’t already have a number of certificates behind their desk, it’s worth asking their qualifications and skills in dental implants. In NZ, they should have Health Sciences first year, and then a four-year Bachelor of Dental Surgery. In NZ, this only is available at Otago University. Then they will have a post-graduate qualification or accreditation in dental implantation.

Be hesitant about anyone who doesn’t commit to ongoing learning. The technology behind implants is constantly changing, and in order for the best results, dentists need to be always learning. If they’ve learned nothing since they’ve completed their degree, give them a wide berth.

Which technique or type of replacement teeth do you recommend and why?

The dentist should be able to explain, in terms that you understand, what type of surgery you need, and why. For instance, if you have less bone in your jaw, they should be able to explain why you need a bone graft. Zygomatic implants, for instance, are recommended when there’s very little jawbone and the implant is inserted in the cheekbone. Listen to the problems/ challenges they have found with your jaw/ teeth, and how they’ll resolve them.

Tell me the steps in the process, and who does them?

A skilled dentist should easily be able to able to explain this to you. You should feel comfortable with the answer, and if you don’t understand something, be comfortable asking for more information. This is important that you understand every step in the process, and know what’s going to happen, when, and by who. Some steps they may outsource to a specialist, and this is absolutely fine, it’s to ensure you get optimal care.

What should I expect in terms of pain, recovery time and eating?

This is important to ask. While there are generic answers that you can find on the internet, your dentist should be able to personalise these somewhat to you. For instance, if you ask about a certain type of food, or when you could be expected to perform a certain activity, your dentist should be able to give you guidelines. It’s important you understand the post-operative guidelines, as failure to comply may mean that your implants will be damaged and could fail. If the dentist just hands over a brochure, this is not enough.

Will I have teeth the whole time, or a gap?

Every procedure is different. Some people will need teeth throughout, especially if it’s all-on-four, or a highly visible front tooth. Your dentist should understand the balance between functionality, aesthetics, and potential damage to the implant. As the implant is healing, it can be harmed by chewing, or a lot of pressure. A good surgeon or dentist can tell you about this and make specialised care notes for you.

What type of anaesthesia is best for me?

This is a specialised part of health care that requires extra education. Your dentist should be able to explain the risks and benefits of local and general anaesthetic. It’s possible they will need a specialist for full general anaesthetic.

What are the risks of dental implants?

Specialists receive extra training on the risks and side effects of tooth implants. In particular, gum disease/ infections can be hazardous to the long term success of the implant. You need to know all the risks so that you’re fully informed, and so you can take measures to avoid problems. The dentist should also touch on how they treat infections, and what happens if an implant fails.

What are the benefits?

A dentist should be able to tell you about the benefits to:

Can you share before-and-after pictures of other patients you have treated?

Any good dental implant dentist will have a number of high quality photos of their before and afters. They will likely have good reviews, which can often be found on their webpage. This is the best way to find out how a patient felt the whole way through- relaxed, informed, and confident they were in safe hands.