Does a dental implant specialist have specific credentials and expertise?
Every dental implant patient deserves to have their treatment provided by a specialist with extensive training and experience. But it is often difficult for patients to determine who is best qualified to provide their treatment, particularly when so many San Diego dentists advertise that they are dental implant specialists.
First and foremost, San Diego patients should understand that the American Dental Association (ADA) has not established a specialty in dental implants and therefore, no dentist is a “dental implant specialist” per se. Some professional organizations offer “credentials” in implant dentistry for members, who often promote their expertise using these credentials. However, none of these credentials are recognized by the ADA. Here is a brief summary of the different dental specializations and how to find a dental implant specialist in the San Diego area.
- A dental implant surgeon who is either an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon or a Periodontist is a specialist in surgical procedures, with more surgical training and experience than other specialists and general dentists. In fact, these are the only two surgical specialties recognized by the ADA.
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons have at least four years of post-graduate hospital residency training, which includes a full year in the administration of anesthesiology. In addition to procedures such as surgical removal of wisdom teeth and corrective jaw surgery, the residency program provides extensive training in the surgical placement of dental implants and bone grafting. The post-graduate training that Periodontists receive is a three-year residency program, which includes surgical dental implant procedures, as well as periodontal (gum) surgery.
- Prosthodontists are the ADA-recognized specialists in tooth replacement, such as dental implant restorations, bridges, and dentures. Their post-graduate residency program provides extensive training in all types of dental implant restorations and prosthetics, including complex full mouth reconstruction with dental implants, implant-supported dentures, and challenging esthetic anterior crowns.
The team approach, involving a dental implant surgeon and a restorative dentist, both highly skilled and experienced, is the preferred way to provide implant treatment. When a surgical specialist (Oral Surgeon or Periodontist) provides dental implant surgery and a restorative dentist or specialist (Prosthodontist) designs and fabricates the replacement teeth, each doctor is focused on his/her individual area of expertise, which ultimately benefits the patient.