Selecting Your Dentist
How to select the best implant dentist
Here's what to look for:
- Check out the advanced credentials. The best should be recognized by his or her peers, and you should expect to see evidence of that respect in awards and recognition. Also check for testimonies from his/her peers and patients as well.
- Look for personalized, concentrated attention to you when you are in the office. Regardless of the talents and education of the practitioner, if he or she is seeing three patients at a time, it will be extremely difficult to give each one of those patients the very best care.
- Look for a dentist who is constantly studying, flying to continuing education courses. This is a fast-changing field, and staying on top requires attending courses all over the country if not all over the world.
- If he or she is involved in teaching implant dentistry through various courses and organizations, that is a plus that should inspire a great deal of confidence.
- See if photos of his or her work are posted on the web site, and if there are comments from other patients. Those can tell you a lot. Excellent dentists post their work proudly for all to see.
- And look for honesty and fairness. Fees should be presented up front, with no surprises. Excellence doesn't need to conceal anything. And intelligence and skill without caring and integrity don't translate into optimum care.
Causes of Dental Implant Failure
Some failure happens despite the best efforts of the dentist and the patient. But some is a result of the natural tendency of both dentists and patients to look for the shortcut, the cheaper solution, the easy road. Here are some of the causes:
- Shortcutting the diagnostic phase - Most dentists are trying to place dental implants with only a two-dimensional panographic x-ray. While a panographic x-ray is adequate for most dental surgery, it isn't enough for properly placing implants. The amount and quality of bone available to support the implant, and the exact position of nerves and blood vessels that run through the bone, are three-dimensional questions. Dr. Atcha believes that only carefully done CT scans, analyzed by a specialist in maxillofacial radiography, provide the level of information needed for these demanding procedures. These 3-D CT scans take less than three minutes to take, and the radiation exposure to the patient is less than 3% of the radiation received during a medical CT scan. Dr. Atcha then has the computer provide printouts of one-millimeter cross-sections of the jaws showing the exact locations of blood vessels and nerves and the thickness and quality of bone.
- Inadequate medical history - There are many medical conditions that affect the success of dental implant treatment. Again, thoroughness and care by the dentist here can prevent dental implant failure later.
- Inadequate dental implant fixtures - There are over two hundred companies that manufacture these fixtures, but only six of them have published juried research with test results documenting the quality of those fixtures. Research is expensive, and some dentists are attracted to the companies that have cut costs and offer cheaper fixtures. The cost of a substandard fixture can be as little as one-one hundredth of the cost of a carefully manufactured, precision-engineered, and fully tested fixture, so this can be a powerful temptation for some dentists. But those shortcuts can come back to haunt the patient long after treatment is completed.