How many doctors does it take to get an implant done?!?!

Oh boy! We can certainly open up a can of worms with this question – so let’s get started!

I think this question needs to start with a preliminary question – and that is whether Implant Dentistry is actually its own specialty or not. Well, the official word (at least according to the American Dental Association and pretty much all state boards) is a resounding NO! This might seem strange, since there is more research pouring in to this field than any other specialty in dentistry and since there are over 50 journals world wide dedicated to this field. There are full-time two-to-three-year residencies at universities, which specialize and teach only Implant Dentistry, just like there are time two-to-three-year residencies teaching Periodontics, or Orthodontics, and still, their graduates cannot officially call themselves specialists in this field (although they can limit their practices to this field only)! So what’s going on??

Well, the problem is the amount of cross training which has been done by all members of the dental community: Periodontists, Oral Surgeons, General Dentists, Prosthodontists, and even some Endodontists. Now throw in that Implant Dentistry can be a very lucrative way of doing dentistry and you got yourself a potent mix of torqued legislature, lobbying power and opinion-wielding legal consultants controlling this issue.

So how many doctors does it take? Well, I say however many are necessary to get the job done properly. This can be one very well trained doctor, who has undergone rigorous training in this field, or many doctors each of which is a specialist in his or her own field. Bear in mind though that the more people are involved, the more things can go wrong too. Breakdown of communication is an often cited problem with the team approach, which can lead to a compromising result. On the other hand, a single doctor who is not well trained in this field can lead to the same compromising result.

Most patients prefer the convenience of having the whole procedure done in one office, rather than being shuttled from one office to another. The trend is definitely going towards dentists getting the extra surgical and prosthetic training done themselves and offering full-service Implant Dentistry in their offices. Implant supply companies also tailor their sales strategies towards this trend. For you as the patient or consumer, it is very important and imperative to make sure that your doctor(s) has/have the necessary training to do the Implant Dentistry for you. The best situation is if you have someone, who has dedicated a few years to a full-time residency at a post-graduate university level and has remained active in the field.

Comments are definitely welcome on this issue!!

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