Many general dentists are now doing dental implant procedures that used to be done only by specialists. This is because the materials and methods have advanced to the point that more and more patients are seeking implant treatments. It’s become a billion-dollar industry, and sure, dentists want to take advantage of this. The ethical question for me is: “Can I perform the surgical procedures at the same level as an oral surgeon or periodontist who performs over a thousand implant-related procedures a year?” It’s not only a matter of experience. It’s also a matter of postdoctoral education that amounts to thousands of hours, and it’s a matter of focused continuing education every year–and investment in the special emerging technologies that make implant dentistry more predictable, safe and successful year after year.
Intraoral scanning technologies in these specialists’ offices have replaced manual tray impressions. Digital impressions are streamlining the entire workflow of creating custom implant components in the dental lab with great accuracy and speed. The cone beam tomography (CBCT 3D imaging) machines and software planning programs provide better resolution, faster scans, and virtual (digital) planning of each case. The technology has even advanced to measure the initial and post-integrated stability of dental implants in the jawbone. Platelet-based growth factors, such as platelet-rich plasma and fibrin, now can be processed easily from the patient’s blood sample and introduced into the surgical site to speed healing.
“Immediately loaded” implants are becoming more predictable so there likely will be more cases of immediately placed crowns, bridges, and dentures. Surgical techniques are becoming more conservative. Over the past few years, innovative implant designs have helped to stabilize implants in the jawbone and gum tissue. Now, predictable treatment is being demonstrated with implants of different widths and lengths so more options for more situations will become available. There will be an increased use of 3D printing for provisional crowns and models. The future of implant dentistry will continue to be evolving and more predictable.
If you are considering implant treatment, yours truly, Dr. Jamie Alexander, is a great place to start. I will evaluate your needs and describe the options. I will help you decide if you want to move forward with implant treatment, and if you do, I will collaborate with an oral surgeon or periodontist to ensure a successful outcome. Your regular oral health care will continue in my office with a watchful eye on the health and comfort of your mouth.