Who Will Place Your Dental Implant?
Dental implants are a substantial investment of time, money and emotion for a patient. So why would you allow someone to treat you who learned the procedure at a weekend seminar?
You probably wouldn’t, but people have allowed this to happen and most likely didn’t even know it.
Why? Money. This country’s dental implant industry is a $1 billion dollar industry according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID) and projects to be a $5 billion industry by 2018.
Manufacturers of dental implants obviously stand to make a lot of money and, sometimes, when the stakes are raised, the standards get lowered. Case in point: One prominent dental implant manufacturer was offering a continuing education course to general dentists who wanted to learn to surgically place dental implants. The course, along with its “certificate of completion,” could be obtained in one weekend!
Think about that. On Friday, there were dentists who had never surgically placed a dental implant. By the following Monday, they had earned “certificates of completion“ of surgical implant training and could return to their practices to start surgically placing their own dental implants without limitations.
Is that the kind of treatment you want?
Dental implants have traditionally been placed by surgical dental specialists, like oral surgeons and periodontists. We are specialists with years of post dental school training and extensive experience. In other words, we didn’t learn our craft over a weekend.
It’s hard to imagine that a single weekend course could prepare someone for the potential complications that could come out of this type of surgery. Despite this, all indicators point to more and more dental implants being placed by general dentists in the future. That’s worrisome.
The results of a recent survey published in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) suggest that implant survival and success rates in general dental practices are lower than the same procedures conducted by oral surgeons and periodontists.
Dental implants can be a significant investment for a patient when you consider the yearly maximum for many dental insurance plans is in the $1,500 per year range, and the average cost for one dental implant procedure is probably closer to between $2-3,000. That doesn’t include the cost for the dentist to fabricate and attach a crown on top of the implant.
So, before you take on that kind of “out of pocket” expense, here are several things you should consider:
- Is the person you are paying your hard earned money to a surgically trained dental specialist? How many times has that person placed a dental implant? Will he or she be someone who has placed hundreds, if not thousands, of dental implants and does the procedure as a regular part of their practice, or someone who does it “occasionally”?
- If there are any complications associated with the surgical placement of your implant, who will take care of them? A specialist is trained to attend to any kind of follow up problems. A general dentist may send you to see someone else to handle complications… like a specialist!
- What type of dental implant will your surgeon be using? Many companies produce implant systems and all are fighting for an increased market share. Will your surgeon use a brand that is tried and true and has spent millions of dollars on research and development like AstraTech, Biomet 3i, Nobel BioCare, Straumann or Zimmer, to name a few? Or will he or she use something newer and not as tested because it is a cheaper alternative? Remember, that implant is going into your mouth.
The first question you should ask when considering a dental implant is about the experience of the person who will be performing the surgery. Think carefully if he or she downplays their training by offering to place your implant for a lower fee.
Remember the old saying: You get what you pay for.