Who Should Place Your Dental Implant?

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.


Wanna Be Rich? Don’t Be A Dentist!

A common misconception is that your dentist is rich, right? He must be, he’s a doctor! Well, you are correct in part of that, the doctor part. What the general population doesn’t understand is the expense it takes just to get started in becoming a dentist, let alone if you want to open your own practice. Let’s explore.

In the “olden days” dentistry was a trade, a one or two year apprenticeship program. Now it is the most expensive professional program to attend. It is not unheard of for some graduates to exit dental school with student loan debts in excess of a half million dollars! Yes, these new doctors will make a decent salary upon graduation, but they just left with the equivalent of a mortgage payment for a mansion they can’t even live in! Opening up their own shop right out of school is rarely an option for most new dentists. It will take most dentists several years of pinching pennies and living off of ramen noodles to pay down debt to go into more debt to be able to afford their first make-shift practice.

Once they do open their own practice, it is not going to be the glitz and glam of the high end boutique dental spa. It is going to be one chair with one assistant and they will be doing their own hygiene. Most likely he or she will be picking up a day or two a week at the dental school covering clinic, the health department or the county jail working on inmates until patient workload picks up, if it ever does. Hopefully, he or she has a good marketing plan or it could all go away in a hurry.

Most dentists won’t start to break even in their own practice until about year ten. To put this into perspective, this dentist will have spent about five years working for someone else, then about ten years before they are breaking even in their own practice, all the while carrying a very heavy student loan debt and then a heavy practice debt.

Once in practice, and it starts to grow, the dentist will have overhead. It costs money to run the business side of dentistry. The greatest cost of this is staffing. Many young dentists will work long hours doing “extra” work around their new office to keep cost low. These are things most people don’t think about like: sweeping floors, cleaning bathrooms and washing windows, just to name a few. That new practice is their baby.

One must remember, this individual has put their life on hold for at least eight years if not more. Some specialists will have gone to school for fifteen years or more. Dentistry and dental medicine is a commitment to the love of the practice, not a search to get rich quickly. It is a nice lifestyle once one has “put their time in,” but don’t let that fool you. There have been many years of a ramen noodle diets and rusty Ford Escorts to get that gray haired dentist in the Lexus to retirement. He is probably just now getting there.