According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, “It has been estimated that 69 percent of Americans age 35 to 44 have at least one missing tooth, and one in four over the age of 74 have lost ALL their natural teeth.
When I attended dental school over 30 years ago, the science of dental implants was relatively new and as such was not taught to general dentists. At the beginning of my career dental specialists almost exclusively performed the surgical stage of the implant procedure; while general dentists predominantly performed the final two stages of restoration. Consequently, in the past I referred my patients for treatment outside of my office for the surgical stage and performed the final two stages in my office. Having multiple dentists involved in the implant procedure requires detailed coordination between the two providers. Communication between providers is necessary to ensure the compatibility of the implant materials used. Additionally, appropriate implant positioning must be coordinated to ensure the overall esthetic and functional design of the final restoration. While we always worked to make this coordination as smooth as possible, we had to work quite diligently to ensure that the best of care resulted.
My practice of dentistry has always focused on keeping up with changing procedures and technologies. As implant procedures have become more proven and accepted; I have seen a substantial interest in them among my patients. Through conversations with these patients and my staff, I grew to realize that the process would be more convenient to patients if I performed all the components of the implant procedure in my office. This would also allow me to have greater control over the aesthetic outcome and the continuing care of the implant over the years. Over the past couple of years, I have studied and pursued courses in implant dentistry. Recently, I intensified my study of this procedure in several ways, one of which included training at the Engel Institute, an organization dedicated to training general dentists to perform implant surgeries. This institute provides a clinical environment where dentists perform implant surgery on actual patients. Following this training I have adapted my practice to include all the stages, including the surgical stage. I am confident in my ability to surgically place dental implants for a successful outcome and believe that this is the best course of treatment for most implant patients. While I will be able to meet the needs of the majority of my patients, I will still refer to a dental specialist for the surgical stage if the patient has a specialized need that dictates such care. (On a side note, my son, who started dental school in July, reported that he would receive surgical implant training during his years of study.)
What tooth replacement needs do you have? Whether you are missing a single tooth, several teeth, or all your teeth, there is likely an implant option that can work for you. I will be happy to discuss your questions and present your implant treatment options at your next examination. Visit our dental implants page for videos and to learn more about implants.