You need a dental implant, but who should place it? You have several options. You could have your general dentist place it if he or she is adequately trained or be referred to a specialist to have your implant or implants placed. The general thought in dentistry is that one does well what one does often.
Fifty years ago this was the story with endodontic therapy, or root canals. The thought at that time was only a specialist could perform root canal therapy. By the new millennium, every general practice dentist was graduating from dental school being expected to perform not only root canals, but also molar root canals, the most difficult of all root canal therapies. This left retreatments, apical surgeries and other more complicated procedures to be done by endodontists, or root canal specialists.
The same is happening with dental implants, only at a more rapid rate. Implant dentistry has taken a cue from endodontics and placed things into warp speed. The thought is, why kill a fly with a sledgehammer? It is rapidly becoming the trend to only send the most complex cases to a specialist.
The issue with this, however, is that dental implants are a surgical procedure and are not easily reversible. If a general practice dentist is to place dental implants, they should be experienced and secure in their own field and have a strong history in surgical dentistry. Along with that, they should have had completed a course in implant placement. There are variety of courses and ways that this training can be completed. The most important thing is that you, as the patient, feel comfortable with whom is placing and restoring your dental implant. Please, know that this procedure will take several weeks to months to finish. It is not just come in and get your new tooth today. Although, this type of treatment is on the horizon. This is most likely a truly permanent replacement. That is something that cannot be said for most other treatments in dentistry.
Implant dentistry is not the future of dentistry. It is the now treatment in dentistry. Some cases may be too difficult for a general dentist to place the implants themselves, and you will be sent to a specialist. It is on rare occasion that a bridge would ever be a viable option. This, in fact, has been called borderline malpractice by some. A patient should keep this phrase in their mind, “If I’m going to pay, I want to pay for permanent.”
As far as a specialist or a general dentist placing your implants, that is a discussion you need to have in your treatment planning session. If you both feel comfortable with your dentist’s training, experience and expertise, then proceed forward. If you don’t, then ask to be referred to a specialist. Just remember, this shouldn’t be all about money. This is permanent. It may cost as much as a used car, but you can’t trade it in next year for another one.