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General dentists usually determine if an implant is appropriate for you, but sometimes they may refer you to a dental specialist for additional care. Following are some of the dental specialists who may be called upon, and brief descriptions of their areas of expertise:
- prosthodontist - restoration and replacement of teeth
- oral and maxillofacial surgeon - dental surgery
- periodontist - periodontal (gum) disease
The American Dental Association permits General Dentists to perform all procedures that fall within dentistry by law. However, most General Dentists choose to exclude certain procedures that they do not do routinely and therefore refer patients to specialists like Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons or Periodontists. The specialist will usually confer with the General Dentist on where the implants are to be placed. After the implants have been placed and have healed, or osseointegrated, your General Dentist will make the crowns, or caps, that go on the implants.
Dental implants are typically placed by oral surgeons or periodontists. However, many general dentists with additional training are placing implants as well as restoring them.
Primarily your family dentist, or general dentist, coordinates and provides the diagnosis for implant therapy. He or she often does the restoration of the implant that is surgically placed by the specialist whom he refers to for that procedure. The surgeon is a person that your general dentist usually works with and provides the impressions and other materials needed for the proper placement of the implant. Sometimes the general dentist would have acquired the extra training that is needed in order for them to be able to do the surgical placement of the implant. Remember that your general dentist' primary concern is your long term well-being.
One of the dental specialists that work with your general dentist, at times, for your implant therapy, could be a prosthodontist. They do an extra two years of training in the field of prosthetics. In other words the placement or crowns and bridges, removable dentures, and complete dentures. They usually would have to have an extra course of study in the surgical placement of the implants as the general dentist would.
Another dental specialist that does implant placement would be an oral surgeon. They do an extra four years in the study of surgical procedures that usually includes implants. This specialist can easily sedate their patients and often do the more difficult implant procedures.
Another dental specialty that does a good job with implant placement is a periodontist. They receive extra training in treatment of gum disease. Sometimes when patients get referred to them, they are a point where some tooth loss is inevitable. With their skill in surgical techniques they are in a perfectly suited for implant placement. Of course in this situation your dentist will have to restore the implant.
The final specialists that are emerging into implant placement are the endodontist. They go to a few years of extra training in order to treat teeth with endodontic therapy. They are, as all dentists, confronted with times when they lose teeth. With atraumatic extractions they can usually place implants successfully. Of course, in this case the dentist has to restore the implant.
Implants have no specialty requirements so most dentist that feel that are trained to place them, can. Let your regular dentist advice you. If he or she doesn't feel qualified to place the implant, they will be able to guide you.
Many General Dentists are very comfortable with placing implants. It has become such a common procedure that General Dentists are not only competent in placing implants, but are placing most of them in the United States now. However, each situation that a patient presents with is absolutely unique! The Dentist that is restoring the case is usually the best person to coordinate the treatment plan, to assure that the final result (the tooth/teeth are acceptable). If there are special circumstances that require specialist's to be consulted, then that will be addressed by the General Dentist prior to the placement of dental implants. So, in many cases General Dentists are very capable to place and restore implants, and they should almost always be consulted prior to placement, as they are typically the person who will restore the implant with a tooth!
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.