How Does an Implantologist Differ From a General Dentist?


In an ideal world, patients would see their general dentists twice a year for routine cleanings and checkups. However, procedures like filling cavities and performing root canals may call for additional visits to a dentist's chair. And more advanced treatments sometimes require the touch and expertise of a specialist. For a dental implant procedure, that professional is called an implantologist.

Dental Implant Basics

Dental implants provide the foundation for mounting replacement teeth in the mouth. An implant consists of a metal post that must be surgically secured in the jawbone and surrounded by healthy bone and gum tissue before it can be topped with a crown. An implant may support a single tooth or multiple teeth through custom-made bridges and dentures, reports the American Dental Association. Implants are not removable and will stay securely in place while you chew, talk and eat.

Placing an implant is a delicate and multistep surgical process, and not all dentists have the special training. Your dentist will tell you if they are able to perform an implant procedure in the office. If not, they may refer you to an implantologist.

Implantologist Credentials

Dental implants can be placed by periodontists, reports the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), or by oral and maxillofacial surgeons, explains the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Both types of dental professionals have specialized training in the field of implant placement. General dentists may also place implants, so long as they complete additional training to qualify as implantologists.

If you're looking for an accredited implantologist, you might consider turning to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID). The AAID can help you find a dental professional in your area, prepare to ask the right questions about the procedure and learn about every step in the process.

AAID implantologists can attain different levels of certification. An Associate Fellow will have met the following requirements (besides being a licensed dentist):

  • 300 hours of continuing education related to implant dentistry or graduation from a periodontal, oral and maxillofacial surgery or prosthodontics program
  • Surgical experience in placing implants, including competency in three types of cases
  • Completion of written and oral exams in implant dentistry

To qualify as a Fellow, the requirements increase, including at least 400 hours of continuing education and at least five years of experience practicing implant dentistry.

An even higher honor is to become a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology/Implant Dentistry. Becoming a Diplomate is the most rigorous of certifications. These dental professionals have practiced implant dentistry for at least seven years. Candidates must also have completed implant procedures for at least 75 patients, in addition to passing a two-part exam.

Do You Need Implants?

Dental implants are an option if you need to replace one or more missing teeth. Your dentist will first assess whether your mouth can handle implants. You should have healthy gums and enough bone to anchor the implants, according to the AAP.

After the procedure is complete, an implant patient will have to commit to a daily oral care regimen that includes brushing and flossing. It is critical to take good care of the replacement teeth and the surrounding gums to prevent implant failure.

Your oral health is in good hands when you seek out a dental professional with the expertise to meet your needs. If you think you might need implants, schedule a consultation with your dentist.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Top Oral Care Tips for IMPLANTS

Most dental implants are successful, and there are a few steps you can take to help ensure success and make your implant last.

  • Practice good oral hygiene – brush twice a day and floss once daily. Using interdental brushes, brushes that slide between teeth, can help clean the hard to reach areas around your implant.

  • Quit smoking – smoking can weaken the bone structure and can contribute to implant failure.

  • Visit your dentist – cleanings and exams every six months can help ensure your implant is in good condition, and that it stays that way.

  • Avoid chewing on hard foods – don’t chew on hard items such as ice and hard candy because they can break the crown and your natural teeth.