1: When was the last time you made a tooth on an implant?
Implant dentistry involves surgically placing an implant into your jaw to replace the missing root of your tooth and making a tooth on the implant. Some dentists only know how to place an implant into your jaw but do not know how to make a tooth on the implant. This might mean that they won’t know where to correctly place the implant. Unfortunately if your implant is placed incorrectly in your jawbone, the tooth over the implant will neither look nor function correctly.
2: What kind of connection (abutment) are you making on my implant?
There are two kinds of connecting elements between the implant and the tooth, the first is a custom abutment, and the second is a generic, off-the-shelf abutment. Always demand that a custom abutment be made.
Everyone’s gums are shaped differently and so most of the time, a generic abutment wont fit properly. This leaves space for cement to settle where it shouldn’t and often it’s too deep in the gum to remove. This is the leading cause of implant failure.
Custom abutments are made to measure, which makes removing and cleaning any excess cement easy and predictable. If someone quotes a cheap price, it is likely that they are using a generic and less expensive abutment.
3: How long has the implant model you are going to give me been in use?
In implant dentistry, the newest treatment option is not necessary the best. Would you take blood pressure medication that just came on the market or one that has been in use and proven to work for decades?
With dental implants, a good outcome has to be proven over a long period of time, as the implant must function in your mouth for decades.
Ask that the company, brand and particular implant model have been in clinical use at least 15 years. Why so long? Companies will discontinue implants if they are proven to not work according to recognized standards. That being said, it takes many years for all the flaws of a particular model to be recognized. If a brand or implant model has been in use over 15 years, it is likely a safe option.
4: How long has the implant manufacturing company been in business?
We expect the implant to be functional for decades. Over this period of time, the tooth/abutment on the implant may need to be changed. Is the manufacturing company going to be around to get the parts needed for repairs?
Are you going to be stuck with an implant that no one knows how to service and that has discontinued parts? It is best to use an implant made by a company that has been in business for at least 20 years.
Fortunately, the top 5 dental implant companies have been around for at least that long. If someone quotes a cheap price it is likely that they are using an implant from a newer company. It is also possible that they are using a “clone” implant, made to look similar to one of the top implant brands but without the years of research to support its longevity.
5: How many years did you study dental implants in a formal setting?
There is no official American Dental Association specialty in implant dentistry. All licensed dentists are allowed to place and restore implants.
The most efficient and comprehensive way to study implant dentistry is within the confines of a dental school or hospital based “Implant Program”. Training implant dentists spend at least two years performing implant procedures under the direct supervision of experienced implant dentists. The same supervision concept is used when student dentists are taught how to make fillings, caps, etc.
Fortunately, this learning format has been used for many years to train general dentists and specialists alike in implant dentistry. A note of caution, however, some specialist dentists claim an expertise in implant dentistry without having had any formal training in the field.