Q: Dr. Schwarcz, what should consumers look for when selecting a dentist to place implants?
A: A typical consumer might be concerned about a dentist’s location, or if their insurance is
accepted at that office, or what the dentist might charge them; however, all of these concerns are misplaced. A dental consumer should be concerned, first and foremost, about quality of care and whether the dentist has adequate advanced training in the field of implant dentistry. A patient could ask the dental office what school the dentist attended and if they have a specialty degree in a field such as Oral surgery or Implant dentistry. That might give you more information about the dentist, but that does not mean that they have advance training in implant dentistry. A dentist who is highly qualified to do implant and restorative surgery would have significant advanced training beyond dental school. A competent implant dentist should also be credentialed from a respected dental implant organization such as the AAID, the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. When I took my examinations for AAID credentials I had to pass a rigorous and comprehensive written and oral examination. Being credentialed by the AAID means a patient can be assured they will receive state of the art competent implant care. So in answer to your question the safest way to ensure your dentist is qualified, ask him or her if they are credentialed by the American Academy of Implant Dentistry.
Q: How should consumers evaluate the credentials and qualifications of implant dentists?
A: It is very difficult, if not nearly impossible, for a consumer to know the difference between a bona fide credentialing process, such as that offered by the AAID, and other organizations that basically “sell” credentials to anyone who can take a weekend course and write a large check. I tell my patients or other persons, in my opinion; there is only one organization that offers a credentialing process that really means something to the consumer. That is the AAID and that is why I chose to get my credentials with the AAID. Any dentist with credentials given by the AAID has demonstrated a superior knowledge and experience in the implant field. A consumer can count on the AAID credentials to really mean something when it comes to advanced training and quality of care. A consumer can check the AAID website at www..AAID.com for a list of credentialed implant surgeons.
Q: In general, is there a difference in the type of training required to place implants?
A: There are many different avenues for training in dental implants; however, attending programs that are conducted by reputable organizations such as the AAID helps to ensure that the quality of the education is high. More importantly it is the amount of advance training a dentist receives or pursues that can impact the quality of the care that they deliver. Most AAID credentialed dentists, such as me, have had many years of advance
training and continuing education in implant dentistry. A highly trained implant dentist will have had many hands on courses and opportunities to bring his or her skills to the highest level. I have been pursuing my implant dentistry training since 1984 and I have been credentialed with the AAID since 1993.
Q: Is it better to have one practitioner perform the surgery and the tooth placement instead of having multiple different practitioners?
A: I believe that both methods can be successful. In my opinion, and in my office, we do both the surgeries and the tooth placement. The advantages of doing both are that I have maximum control over all aspects of the case. Often, treatment complications are the result of communication breakdowns. That is minimized when there are fewer doctors involved in the treatment. In cases where multiple doctors do need to be involved, it is important to have a good communicator and team leader to direct the treatment. Usually that is the general dentist. In my office I perform both the implant surgery and I place the replacement teeth. That allows us to achieve optimum results for our patients with a minimum of complications. It is far more convenient for our patients to have all of their treatment completed in one office.