Choosing an Implant Dentist: Questions To Ask 1. Is your implant dentist a board certified specialist? Any dentist with a diploma can legally place an implant. A specialist with surgical training has taken three additional years of training to learn proper surgical skills. The dental specialty boards require high standards of training and performance and ensure them by rigid oral and written examinations. Successful applicants receive diplomas in their specialty. To become "board-certified" and receive "Diplomate" status in their particular specialties, additional rigorous testing must be passed before the specialty board. Periodontal specialists take three years of residency training after four years of dental school. The recognized standard-setting organization for Periodontists is the American Board of Periodontology. Dr. Phyllis Cook is a board certified Diplomate of the American Academy of Periodontology. 2. How long has your dentist been placing dental implants? Dr. Phyllis Cook has been placing implants since 1996. After all these years, she is still learning and often faces challenging situations that require the kind of extraordinary experience and skill that only comes with over 15 years of experience. 3. How many implants does he or she place a year? You want the dentist that places your implants to be experienced and knowledgeable in handling the most routine dental implant procedures, as well as the most complex dental implant procedures. There is a difference between someone that places 15 implants a year and someone that places over 400. Dr. Cook has placed thousands of implants in her career. 4. What is their training in dental implants? As frightening as it may seem, many dentists today take one or two-day courses on dental implant placement, work on plastic model jaws and buy surgical implant kits to get started in dental implant placement. Even more frightening, some dentists surgically place implants on unsuspecting patients with less or no training whatsoever. Dr. Cook has had extensive implant dental training and years of experience placing dental implants. You should ALWAYS check to make sure your dentist has the proper training, experience and credentials. Experience matters. 5. Can you see a list of the continuing education courses that your dentist has taken in the past 12 to 24 months? All state licensing boards attempt to establish minimum standards of practice in the dental community for specialty practices and procedures. Despite the efforts of the state licensing boards, these efforts do not guarantee that your dentist is qualified to perform specialty procedures, especially when it comes to placement of dental implants. A dentist that actively pursues excellence in implant care will spend 50 to 100 hours or more a year in continuing education and study, to hone, refine and update their treatment skills. Make sure that you dentist measures up. Ask to see the list of courses. Dr. Cook attends over 150 hours of continuing education courses each year to keep up to date and on the cutting edge. 6. Does your dentist offer a comprehensive initial exam prior to diagnosis and treatment? A practitioner that only looks at your missing tooth or teeth is not interested in the long-term health and success of your dental implants or your total dental health. You should always make sure your initial exam includes the following evaluations:
  • An oral cancer screening
  • An overall examination of the health of your gums
  • A complete bite evaluation including patterns of looseness and tooth wear and overall bite function.
  • TMJ function
  • Adequate size and shape of the bone and adequate amounts of gum tissue in the area of the proposed implant
7. How many dental implants does the dentist keep on hand? There are many situations that call for different implant sizes than were originally planned. A dentist that places hundreds of dental implants a year will always have 30 to 40 additional implants on hand to address unforeseen changes in your treatment situation. A dentist that only orders implants for individual cases may not be able to handle every situation that arises. 8. Does the dentist have the latest technology to diagnose and treat? Advanced technologies and the latest science not only offer faster diagnosis and treatment, but ensure a more effective course of treatment. Some of the latest technologies and treatments available that we use to maximize the effectiveness of your treatment include:
  • Our Digital Cat Scan offers you, the patient, the convenience of on-site state of the art diagnostics that help ensure your investment for a lifetime. We are one of the first doctors in North Carolina that provides such technology for their patients.
  • Digital X-rays: Make the surgery faster, safer and more predictable (it takes 4 seconds to see a digital image).
  • Digital Cat Scan Software systems that allow us to view 3-dimensional computer images of the jawbone to properly plan and perform successful dental implant treatment. We can visualize your implant surgery on the computer before we perform the actual treatment.
  • Platelet Rich Plasma: Treatment that utilizes the patient’s own blood platelets to promote better and faster healing after a surgical treatment.
  • Growth Factors to enhance the speed and the quality of healing process.
9. What brand of implants does your dentist use? The fact is that some dental implant companies have been researching the science of dental implants for over 40 years, and some are copycat companies that are manufacturing cheap, low-quality knock-off implants, that are marketed to dentists as “low-cost” dental implants. Ask yourself: Do you want an implant from a company that promotes being the low cost leader in dental implants or one that is from a worldwide leading company with 40 years of research and science? Better yet, ask your dentist! We use Straumann Implants, a leader in research in the implant field.