How do you choose an Implantologist?

One of the questions that has been a constant difficulty, both from me, and my potential patients, is the question ”how do I choose an Implantologist?” I have been asked this many, many times, and it is almost an impossible question to answer. Whilst the General Dental Council keeps a list of specialities, there is no official speciality of Implantology, despite the fact that it is desperately needed so that the general public can make an informed choice of professionals. When I was president of the Association of dental implantologists UK, we had many meetings with all interested parties involved in Implantology to try and gain consensus on having a speciality in Implantology, unfortunately, many specialities within dentistry, would like to own implants, from oral surgery through periodontology to restorative specialities. As there could be no consensus the General Dental Council decided not to have an independent speciality in Implantology. So to go back to my earlier statement, it is extremely hard for the general public to ascertain who is well qualified to place implants for them, and who is not.

I would however like to offer some advice; when I started doing implants in the mid-80s, there was no qualifications whatsoever in implant dentistry as it was a relatively young speciality in the UK, that is not the case now, there are MSc’s, certificates and all manner of courses that can be completed, including one by the Royal College of surgeons in London. While these are useful measures of an individual’s ability to pass an academic exam, Implantology is a practical sport, so the most important qualification is experience. As with all techniques, the more you do it the better you get, and to have a good grasp of implants, you need to be placing in the region of a hundred implants a year, in order to increase your ability. Those individuals that only place 6 to 10 year are the people to avoid, they tend not to have enough time carrying out the surgery to become better, but their toe in the water keeps them thinking that they can. Clearly, those that are training will be in that situation, but generally, they work under the tutelage of a mentor who is highly qualified, and can correct their errors, hopefully before they make them.

The other thing that you need to look for when choosing an implant surgeon, is what type of implant they use; there are many, many different implant systems available in the market, some very good, and some not so good. From the patient’s perspective, they automatically think that whatever the dentist is using must be the best, that is not always true. One should always look for a premium brand of implant, that has a good research background and is supported by a large and competent company, so the chance of them being around in 10 years should you require any replacement bits is high. So in conclusion, it is very difficult for the public to recognise a high quality Implantologist from the crowd, as everyone seems to claim they can do implants these days.

These are my top tips

• Look for experience in your surgeon, ask about the numbers he’s done and his success rate.
• Check he’s using a premium brand implant, such as Dentsply or Nobel Bio Care or Straumann.
• Ensure you have good customer service.
• Ask about their sterilisation techniques, they should be beyond reproach.
• Ensure that before you proceed you obtain a written estimate of the cost.
• Asked to talk to some other clients that have had similar work completed by the clinician.
• Last but not least, make sure you like and trust your Implant surgeon.

Good luck with finding a great Implantologist, they are out there but they are few and far between, don’t forget, always ask other people their opinions