The one area where I would advise patients to be most wary about where they get their dental care is with dental implants. This is the number one area of litigation for dental malpractice claims.
The complication when there are dental implant mistakes is that when something goes wrong with a crown or a root canal treatment, the worst that could happen is that you lose a tooth. When something goes wrong with dental implants, you can lose a jawbone or part of a face. The complications become more serious.
Also, the effect of the mistakes made by the dentist may not be apparent until years later. It can take that long for dental implant failure to occur.
And because this is such a “hot” area of dentistry, there are many dentists who are trying to help their patients by getting involved with dental implants. The reason that is generating so many mistakes is that implant dentistry was not a part of the dental school curriculum of the vast majority of dentists in practice today. Only now are dental schools starting to incorporate adequate training in implantology. And as they try to do this, they are faced with a curriculum that is already jammed so full, they don’t know what to cut out so that they can adequately cover implantology. You’re safest in the hands of a dentist who has completed significant post-graduate training in implantology.
The moral: watch the credentials of your implant dentist. Make sure he or she has extensive continuing education to be abreast of all the current knowledge in implantology. And above all, don’t go price shopping. Dentists who try to compete on price here often are cutting corners in the treatment.
Areas of Possible Dental Implant Mistakes
Here are the areas where you may experience dental implant failure:
- Dental implants impinging on nerves in the lower jaw. There is a key nerve that runs through the middle of the lower jaw. When there are missing teeth and the bone begins to resorb, this nerve can end up being even closer to the surface than normal. The position of this nerve needs to be pinpointed in three dimensions, so it takes three-dimensional CT scans to be able to avoid it.
- Dental implants placed where there is inadequate bone support. If there isn’t enough bone, you need to have bone grafts before the implant is placed. In the attempt to economize, there may be a temptation to shortcut this.
- Implant fixtures placed in sinuses or other nasal cavities in the upper jaw. Not only will this cause problems in the sinus or the nose, but there will also be inadequate bony support making them susceptible to implant failure.
- Using substandard fixtures. For more information about this problem, please see our cheap dental implants page. These fixtures need to be made to exacting standards of high-quality materials, or there can be problems with fit, longevity, or biocompatibility.
- You can have medical conditions that affect the success of the dental implants. The dentist needs to be very thorough in discovering all relevant elements of your medical history.
- There are other difficulties that are beyond the control of the dentist. You may just have a biotype that doesn’t respond well to dental implants.
Avoid Dental Implant Failure
To be safe and avoid care that could lead to implant failure, I would look for a dentist with credentials from one of the two largest dental implant organizations: The American Academy of Implant Dentistry, and The International Congress of Oral Implantology. Both of these organizations award fellowship and diplomate status to dentists who have received adequate training and have a strong track record of successful implant placement.
This information is provided for you by the mynewsmile.com cosmetic dentist referral service, and was personally written by Dr. David Hall.
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This content was written by Dr. David Hall.