The Cosmetic Dentistry Blog

February 29, 2012

My new dental implant bridge doesn’t line up with my bite.

This is an exchange with Lilly from California. Here is her original question and my reply. Then she replied, and I answered again, and that is below:

Dr. Hall,
I have a new implant bridge, with two implants, replacing four teeth on my bottom right. I notice now that when I bite down on the right side, the bottom teeth and the top teeth line up, but my teeth on the left don’t line up. Is this normal? What can be done?
Lilly from California

Lilly,
This is not right. All your teeth should come together at the same time. Something isn’t right here. And if this isn’t fixed, it could lead to TMJ disorder.

This gets me to a recurring issue, and that is the quality and standards of implant dentistry in the country. This is one of the top areas for dental malpractice. One of the reasons is that the dental profession has not made it a recognized specialty, so anyone can claim to be an implant dentist with no extra training whatsoever.

My recommendation would be to have another dentist look at this. Look for a dentist with credentials from one of the two major dental implant organizations – the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, and the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. Fellowship or diplomate status in either of these organizations would indicate a dentist who understands and practices quality implant dentistry.

There are two possibilities for what went wrong. It’s possible the implants were restored incorrectly. I think more likely is that the surgery placed the implants in the wrong position.

Sometimes, if the surgery is done by one dentist and the implants are placed by another, there is a communication problem and they are placed in a position that makes it difficult or impossible to restore them correctly. What should be done is that the restorative dentist should make some type of surgical guide that fits in your mouth and that fixes the exact position and angle where the implant should be placed. But a lot of dentists don’t do that.

I wish you the best,
- Dr. Hall

This is a reply that Lilly sent

Dr. Hall,
Thank you for the comprehensive answer. I am suspecting the problem lies with the surgeon. He insisted he was in charge. I never saw the restorative dentist he referred me to until after he was done with the implants.

I have an appointment with both the surgeon (periodontist) and the restorative dentist in two weeks. I am hoping that these implants don’t have to be redone. In that case, is it fair for me to request a refund? I don’t want to return to this periodontist and dentist. You would think the restorative dentist would have known better than to just go ahead and make the bridge and charge me when he knew it was wrong.
-Lilly from California

Lilly,
Very interesting, to get that additional information from you. In my humble opinion, you are within your rights to ask for a refund, assuming that we have this sized up correctly. It is an established principle of implant dentistry that the implants need to be placed according to a restorative treatment plan, and that a surgeon should not place them until the restorative dentist has examined the case and made the determination of where they need to be. Sounds like the surgeon skipped that step.

Get your independent opinion from an implant dentist with a credential from the ICOI or AAID, as I mentioned in my earlier e-mail, and if it is determined that the problem was in the location of the implants and that they need to be replaced, then yes, I would complain. And actually, rather than a refund, ask that the surgeon pay whatever the cost would be to fix the problem. I think there is some legal liability here to get this fixed right.
- Dr. Hall

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About David A. Hall

Dr. David Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does complete Internet marketing for dentists.

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