Many people need dental implants, but the question becomes who should place them for you. While some general dentists will offer implant placement themselves, most will refer you to an oral surgeon. This is the best option because of the extra experience and training that oral surgeons have compared to general dentists.
A Quick Refresher on Dental Implants
Dental implants replace the roots of your teeth with screw-like metal posts. Then, your dentist can fit a crown that looks and functions like a tooth on top. Dental implants are a permanent tooth replacement option, unlike dentures that you remove at the end of the day.
To have a dental implant done, you will need to have a healthy jawbone that has enough structure to keep the implants in place. If your jawbone is not currently strong or healthy enough, then you will likely need a bone graft first.
General Dentists Can Easily Place Implants in Limited Situations
This is not to say that there are no situations where a general dentist can place an implant. In most cases, general dentists can place the implant if everything seems great and no additional treatments are required. If someone has enough jawbone strength and healthy gums and the tooth has not been missing for long, then a general dentist is likely up to the task.
Additionally, some general dentists have additional experience and training without achieving the title of a surgeon. In this case, the decision of whether to have them place the implant or hire a surgeon will depend on their level of expertise.
Dental Implants That Require Additional Procedures
In the case of any dental implant that requires additional procedures, it is always smart to opt for an oral surgeon. It is common for patients to need ridge augmentation, bone grafts, or sinus lifts before getting a tooth implant. An oral surgeon would perform all of these, not a general dentist. Because the implant would build on these procedures, it makes sense to have someone qualified to complete the implant.
Situations When Oral Surgeons Are Essential
In most situations, it is better to have an oral surgeon complete the implant placement, but there are a handful of situations where it is nearly essential. These situations are more challenging and require additional skills.
Whenever that the lost tooth is accompanied by severe bone loss, it is best to visit an oral surgeon. To start, they will be better able to confirm whether your bones are healthy enough for an implant. If your bone is not healthy enough, they will have more options to treat this and get your mouth ready for implants than a general dentist. The most common treatment option is a bone graft, which involves encouraging your body to build new bones by borrowing bone from another part of the body (or an artificial bone).
Oral surgeons may also need to perform a sinus lift before the implant placement. This is a type of bone graft that is particularly challenging because it focuses on the maxilla.
If you lost a tooth because of trauma, then you should make sure to choose an oral surgeon for the implant placement. This comes from the possibility of trauma to your bone structure. Remember that trauma that knocks out teeth can also damage or compromise your sinuses or mandibular joint. Because general dentists are less familiar with these bones, they may not notice the damage. Accounting for damage to these bones is crucial as it needs to be fixed before the bones can securely hold the implants.
Oral Surgeons Are More Specialized
The main reason to have an oral surgeon place your implant comes down to their specialization. They specialize in surgery means that they have more training and experience with dental implants and other complex procedures.
That experience means that they are more likely to finish the procedure quickly and properly. This can reduce the risk of complications and even make recovery easier. There will typically be less irritation around the implant site, thanks to oral surgeons’ experience.
Oral Surgeons Are Prepared for Complications
A general dentist can place implants if the patient’s mouth seems ideal. However, you never know if something will go wrong during the procedure or if a challenge will arise. If that happens, an oral surgeon will be better prepared to handle the challenge with their experience with various surgeries.
For general dentists, implant placement is likely the only or one of just a handful of surgeries or advanced procedures they perform. This reduces their experience dealing with complications. That means they may not respond as quickly if complications arise.
Oral Surgeons Offer More Anesthetic Options
The fact that oral surgeons perform more oral surgeries and implants than general dentists also gives you more options for anesthetic. This lets you choose the sedative or anesthetic that you prefer. Although it is not always the case, most oral surgeons will suggest you go under using an anesthetic to fall asleep during surgery. It’s essential if you are having multiple implants placed. This may not always be an option with a general dentist.
Remember That Some Dentists Are Oral Surgeons
As you decide who will perform your dental implant in the Chicago area, keep in mind that your dentist may be an oral surgeon. You may not even realize it, but many dentists choose to train as oral surgeons as well to supplement their skills and offerings. Your dentist will let you know if they are an oral surgeon.
The Bottom Line
General dentists can help you determine if dental implants are right for you. While some general dentists can handle more basic dental implant placements, Dr. Sharma suggests that you have an oral surgeon perform the procedure. Their experience and additional training will help the procedure go smoothly, reducing your risk of complications.