Dental Implants Myths vs. Facts

Myth: Any dentist is qualified to surgically place dental implants.

Fact: Although it is legal for any licensed dentist to place dental implants, not every dentist placing implants has extensive training in surgical implant procedures, or experience managing potential complications that can occur. Dental implant treatment is extremely successful when performed by a trained clinician. Surgical specialists, most specifically oral surgeons or periodontists, like Dr Gallez or Dr Poulos have had years of extensive, post-doctoral training and experience with surgical procedures and complications. Many non-surgical dentists begin placing dental implants after completing an abbreviated training course in implant surgery. These courses do not prepare dentists to predict, diagnose, and treat potential complications. Since implant placement is a surgical procedure, it is important for patients to ask questions about training and experience prior to undergoing implant surgery.

Myth: Implant “super” centers are the leaders in implant dentistry and have more experience than other practices.

Fact: Certainly some of the doctors involved with “super” centers have a great deal of experience and are leaders in implant dentistry. However, there are hundreds of clinicians in private practice who are leaders in implant dentistry, publishing articles in scientific journals and lecturing to other clinicians throughout the world. “Super” centers often refer to their “collective” experience and volume of implants placed (in multiple centers) throughout their promotional materials. However, volume does not necessarily equate to quality care, expertise, or leadership in the profession. This is a complex surgical and prosthetic treatment that requires extensive training and experience to achieve the best outcome for patients. Moreover, after the dental implants are placed, they need to be checked and maintained on a regular basis. Patients should consult their general dentists for recommendations on implant treatment and a referral to an experienced surgical specialist. They should also research their options deliberately.

Myth: All dental implant treatment is the same quality, so it makes sense to shop for the lowest cost available.

Fact: Unfortunately, not every dentist who performs implant procedures provides quality dental implant treatment. Many of the dentists promoting “bargain” implant fees are not using quality implants and components, which is not advised, since it is a medical device being implanted into a human being! In this economy, cost is an issue for many people. Since dental implant treatment involves a surgical procedure and complex prosthetics, the experience of the surgical specialist and the restorative dentist, and the quality of the implants and components should be a higher priority than the cost of treatment.

“Bargain” implant treatment presents a multitude of potential problems beyond the use of inferior implants and components. Cutting corners to lower the cost often involves rushing through the diagnostic and treatment-planning phase, rarely producing optimal results. Another compromise that is often made in order to cut costs is using offshore labs that fabricate ill-fitting replacement teeth, resulting in increased risk for health problems.

Individuals who choose cheap implant treatment often end up having to surgically correct the problems resulting from poor planning, lab issues, and/or substandard dental implants and components. Subsequently, it may be more costly in the long term, to initially proceed with cheap implant treatment, as opposed to having it done properly in the first place.

Myth: Mini implants can be substituted for standard dental implants and they are non-invasive, permanent and more affordable than other implants.

Fact: Some dental clinics use advertisements make claims about mini implant placement procedures being simpler than traditional implant procedures and therefore, easier on the patients. Mini implants are actually intended to be “transitional” implants to stabilize dentures temporarily while the bone is remodeling around the standard dental implants that will support the final replacement teeth. They are intended to provide temporary stabilization and to be used only in certain types of cases. They are not intended to support a final bridge or prosthesis, as they are likely to fracture or fall out over time. Also, since there is relatively little data on the long-term success of mini implants, it is important to consider mini implants primarily for short-term use.