Questions to Ask Before Choosing an Implant Dentist

By AAID Life Smiles on June 18, 2019
If you're looking for information regarding dental implants, there's no resource more trusted than the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID), the oldest organization in the world dedicated to implant dentistry.
We asked Dr. Sanford N. Schwartz, DDS, FAAID, a Fellow of the AAID, to weigh in on some of the most frequently asked questions about dental implants.

What Are Dental Implants?

A dental implant is a synthetic tooth root, embedded in bone below the gum line. An abutment connects to an implant, which is in bone, passing through the gum and onto which a dentist attaches either a single crown or another restoration.

An entire arch or single jaw of teeth can be retained by as few as 4 to 6 implants and abutments. 

Why Do So Many People Prefer Dental Implants?

Dental implants are the closest thing to your own permanent teeth.

They do not decay and they last a long time. They even look and feel like natural teeth. You can speak, laugh and eat without fear of slipping or movement in your mouth. Dental implants allow you to chew with normal strength and efficiency, which you cannot do with dentures. Even better, healthy implants retain bone like healthy teeth do.

In comparison, denture-wearers only chew with 10% of the force and efficiency that they could with healthy natural teeth. With implants, force and efficiency of chewing is as strong as it is with your healthy natural teeth. 

Can Any Dentist Provide My Dental Implant?

Not all dentists are thoroughly trained and experienced in implant dentistry. Successful implant placement and restoration requires advanced knowledge, sophisticated planning and judgment.

It's more complex than just drilling a hole and inserting a screw in your mouth. An AAID-credentialed dentist, well versed in the planning, surgical placement and restoration of dental implants, gives you the best chance of long term implant success with minimal complication and risk.

Where Can I Find a Knowledgeable Dental Implant Dentist?

The American Academy of Implant Dentistry maintains a free directory of AAID-credentialed dental implant experts.

A dentist who has achieved Fellowship in the AAID has passed written and oral examinations administered by expert practitioners, authors and lecturers, and has also submitted completed cases for review. Because they have a thorough knowledge of all aspects of dental implants and treatment options, they understand the big picture — and they’re dedicated to putting your smile, your needs and your health first.

AAID-credentialed dental implant experts are passionate about helping you live your life the way that you want to.

How Long Does It Take To Replace Teeth Using Dental Implants?

Every patient is unique. And, after completing necessary diagnostics, your implant dentist should provide you with a treatment plan including the estimated time necessary to complete the process.

Total treatment time is dependent upon medical and dental health, quality, quantity and location of available bone, as well as techniques and materials to be used.

Traditionally, four months to a year (or longer) may be necessary from initial surgical placement until final restoration. In most cases, some form of temporary restoration may help you during the process of implant integration with bone.

Newer techniques, however, often allow us to remove teeth, place implants and a temporary fixed restoration for one or both jaws all on the same day.

How Much Do Implants Cost?

A study published in the Journal of Oral Implantology (JOI) shows that the lifetime cost of implant replacement for a single missing tooth was less than that of a fixed bridge.

But, no two patients are exactly alike nor are their specific dental implant treatment needs. Therefore, the cost will vary, with the number of appointments and specific procedures performed.

A wise decision would be to consult with an AAID-credentialed dental implant expert, who will perform a comprehensive examination, obtain necessary diagnostic tests including x-rays, usually a specialized CT scan, then arrive at a treatment plan for your individual needs, along with the associated fees.

You will have an opportunity to discuss fees, payment arrangements and the role of your insurance.


Are Dental Implants Safe?

Dental implants have been proven predictably safe and effective, with success rates typically well over 90%, since 1965.

As in any medical procedure, however, there is a risk of complications. Choosing a knowledgeable, well-trained implant dentist will help minimize the risk of complications and ensure skillful handling of any problems which may arise.

Be sure to share your complete medical history with your implant dentist, including uncontrolled diabetes if present, and any habits, such as smoking, which could affect the success of your treatment. Together, you may discuss risks and benefits.

Does It Hurt To Get Dental Implants?

Routinely, predictably, and almost always, implant placement is less traumatic and less uncomfortable than extracting teeth.

Performing the procedure itself should never be painful. Sedation techniques, especially intravenous sedation, make the entire procedure very comfortable for even the most fearful patients.

Pre-medication, intra-operative medications and proper post-operative home care result in patients reporting feeling much better than expected. Even after single visit tooth extractions, placement of twelve implants and restoration of both arches, patients report taking only one or two pain pills. 

Can My Child Get Dental Implants?

Yes, dental implants are usually the best, longest lasting, most trouble free and usually cheapest long-term solution for teeth congenitally missing or lost due to injury, accident or unrestorable decay.

Consult with an AAID-credentialed dental implant expert as soon as possible after tooth loss, or prior to extraction whenever possible, in order to plan early for implant position and bone preservation.

In most cases, implant placement itself will be delayed until most facial growth is complete, usually around age 16 for girls and age 18 for boys. 

How Do I Care for My Dental Implants?

Well placed and cared for dental implants have the potential to last for decades.

They should be cared for just like natural teeth. You should brush and floss thoroughly every day, and visit your dentist and dental hygienist for cleanings and check ups at regular intervals.

Your dental implant team, supervised by your AAID-credentialed dentist, will be certain to work with you regarding any specialized techniques necessary to best care for your dental implant restoration.

The dentist consulted for this article was Sanford N. Schwartz, DDS, FAAID of Family, Implant & Cosmetic Dentistry in Brandon, FL.

Dr. Sanford Schwartz received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from New York University College of Dentistry in 1979 after earning his B.A. from State University of New York at Albany. He completed a general practice residency at Albany Medical Center Hospital, where he also served as assistant instructor in the Department of Surgery. While practicing in New York, Dr. Schwartz was an instructor at New York University College of Dentistry, and served on staff at Maimonides and Southside Hospitals. Dr. Schwartz’s ongoing continuing education includes a number of surgical and prosthetic training programs on osseointegrated implants, among them a 330 hour MaxiCourse® provided by the Medical College of Georgia and the American Academy of Implant Dentistry

Find out what dentist credentials stand for and what it takes to become AAID credentialed What are those letters after the dentist’s name? Find out what they mean.

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Topics: Getting started with dental implants, Choosing an implant dentist, dental implant process, what to know about implants, Credentialed Implant Dentist