The Dental Implant Team
Over 1/3 of older Americans are missing some or all of their natural teeth. These older adults are looking for effective and affordable tooth replacement treatments, and many are choosing dental implant treatment. Successful and skilled dental implant teams are also responsible for the recent popularity of dental implant treatments. There are unlimited possibilities for dental implant treatment, and a skilled implant team is prepared to perform even the most complex implant treatment. Implant treatment plans are now more advanced in complexity than ever before and the collaboration of a skilled dental implant team is critical. Thanks to their skill, implant teams have found a way to make implant treatment possible even for patients who in the past may have been considered ineligible. All implant treatments commonly involve the same two steps: 1) a surgical procedure to install the implant post and 2) the placement of the dental restoration supported by the implants. Here is more information on the skilled dental professionals who are usually included in a dental implant team.
Why Is an Implant Team Necessary?
An implant treatment plan requires time, advanced planning, and coordination between a dental provider and an oral surgeon. At the initial consultation visit, your dentist will discuss all of your treatment options with you prior to deciding on your treatment plan. After the initial visit, with your input, the dentist and oral surgeon will develop your customized treatment plan. With a skilled implant team, the different steps of the treatment plan will be performed by different experienced professionals. The first step, the surgical placement of the implant post in the jawbone, is commonly performed by the oral surgeon. Once the implant has fused with the jawbone, you will be sent back to your dentist to have your restoration fitted. Depending on your treatment plan, your restoration will either be made by your dentist or a local dental lab. Using a skilled dental implant team ensures a smooth and successful tooth replacement treatment process.
Members of the Dental Implant Team
Today, most dental implant treatments are the product of a successful implant team. The number of professionals involved in the implant team often depends on the complexity of the treatment. A standard implant team includes:
- General dentist: A general dentist is usually experienced in periodontal diagnosis and therapy, implant diagnosis and therapy, and dental implant surgery. The general dentist is the captain of the implant team.
- Dental nurse: Most dental practices have a team of skilled and experienced nurses with expertise in surgical assistance and perioperative care.
- Dental hygienist: Dentists also have skilled hygienists on staff with expertise in implant maintenance and knowledge in the implant procedure.
- Oral Surgeon: While most implant installations are performed by oral surgeons, their involvement usually depends on the complexity of the implant treatment plan.
- Restorative dentist: The implant team member many patients aren’t familiar with is the restorative dentist. In fact, the restorative dentist plays a critical role on the implant team. Their responsibilities include:
- Understanding the surgical considerations of implant placement
- Directing patients to the appropriate implant team member
- Coordinating the implant treatment planning
- Designing and fitting the restoration treatment
After a dental implant treatment has been successfully completed, the dental hygienist takes over as the implant team coordinator. At each dental visit, the following maintenance steps should occur to ensure the success of the implant treatment:
- Dental exam and evaluation: The hygienist will confirm the implant is not mobile, the tissue around the implant is healthy, and excessive plaque is not building up around the implant.
- Professional cleanings: The frequency and intensity of professional cleanings will depend on the health of the implant and will be determined by the general dentist and dental hygienist.
- Open conversation about implant status: It is important to have open conversations about your implant(s) with your dental hygienist. If you are experiencing discomfort or sensitivity you should let them know as soon as possible.
- X-rays: Every few dental visits, X-rays may be needed to help confirm the proper placement of the implant in the bone.
The implant team is committed to performing a successful dental implant treatment and meeting your oral health needs. All members of the dental implant team should be prepared to answer any and all questions you may have at any point during the treatment process. If you are trying to decide if implant treatment is right for you, you should have a conversation with your dental provider today.