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Dear Dr. Hall,
I chose to use my regular dentist to do a dental implant as he has done hundreds of them over the years. When first attempting to place the implant, he informed me that I would need to have a bone graft first. He did the bone graft, then, after healing, I went back for the implant. He again attempted to place the implant but had to remove it as he said the bone was still too thin and he couldn’t do an implant after all. So now after three surgeries, I am left with no implant and the suggestion to get a bridge instead. Is it possible this could have also happened with a specialist?
The short answer to your question is that no, I doubt this mishap would have happened with a dental implant specialist. Although dental implantology is not a recognized specialty in dentistry—there are just some dentists with more advanced training and oral surgeons and periodontists who specialize in surgery.
However, I don’t want to be too hard on your dentist. It sounds like he is really trying to do the right thing and may have a lot of experience with implants, but bone grafting is a tricky procedure, and I think he may be a little short on experience with that aspect of implant dentistry. He may be just starting to get into the grafting. Any dentist who tries to explore new skills is going to have things like that happen.
A dentist of lesser integrity would have just plowed ahead and placed the implant. It would probably have done just fine for a while and then failed at some point down the road. So I think he has done the right thing.
Let me share a story of the first set of porcelain veneers that I placed. As time went on, I became accredited in cosmetic dentistry and felt that I produced truly beautiful work. But, as with any dentist expanding their knowledge, I had a first case. The patient would come back for regular checkups, and as my skills improved, I became more and more dissatisfied with how her smile looked, since it was very mediocre. Finally, I think it was after three or four years, I shared my feelings with her and offered to re-do her case for free, and she accepted.
It sounds to me like your dentist is leveling with you, and feels like you will end up with a fine result. For a single tooth, a dental bridge or a dental implant are two acceptable ways to treat the case, each with their pros and cons. If you really want to go with the dental implant, you could ask your dentist to refer you to a periodontist or oral surgeon with extensive experience in dental implant surgery.
– Dr. Hall
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