Dental Implant Team
Based on population trends, dental professionals should expect to continue seeing an increase in the number of dental implant patients. Various demographic trends and the evolving needs of older patient populations also support this increased popularity of dental implants. As the number of implant cases rapidly increases, it is critical for dental professionals to ensure no detail is overlooked. A successful implant procedure relies on good communication with the patient and dental professionals, in addition to a comprehensive team approach.
In considering all the various dental professionals who may be involved in the implant process, the team can include the following: an oral surgeon, restorative dentist, dental hygienist, dental assistant, lab technician, dental business staff, and endodontist or orthodontist as needed. There should be open and continuous communication with each of the team members who are involved in the treatment plan throughout the entire process.
An oral surgeon or specialist often takes the lead on the placement of the implants. When a general dentist is used to perform the surgery, they will also commonly be the restorative dentist.
The restorative dentist may be a specialist or generalist. Their role as the implant team coordinator is crucial. The restorative dentist must carefully evaluate implant candidates to ensure the procedure is successful and to ensure no underlying conditions are overlooked. Additional responsibilities of the restorative dentist may include the following:
- Surgical consideration for the placement of the implant
- Directing additional implant team members
- Coordinating the surgical implant placement and the planning of the restorative treatment
- Orchestrating the prosthetic treatment plan
It is a great benefit to work with a dental hygienist who has good working knowledge and experience with the implant procedure.
In order to assist the dental hygienist in their familiarity with the most up to date technology, products, and trends associated with implants, they should pursue continuing education (CE) courses. Articles related to implants can also assist with increasing the hygienist implant knowledge.
Some of the key roles the dental hygienist plays in the procedure include the selection of patients, maintenance assessment, and providing instruction for post-operative oral hygiene. Once the implant procedure is complete, the dental hygienist may become the team coordinator. The hygienist should continue to maintain communication with the surgeon to ensure a successful procedure.
Fortunately, many patients are excellent candidates for the implant procedure. Dental hygienists often work most closely with the patient and establish a long-term relationship over the years. In combination with the dentist, hygienists are often in an excellent position to discuss implants with patients.
In order to determine if a patient is a good candidate for implants, it is important to have knowledge of their medical history. This allows the dental professional to inform the patient of their possible treatment options. It is equally important for the team to be aware of patients who are not a good candidate for the implant procedure. This may include a patient who is medically compromised, has active periodontal disease, smokes, and those who are unwilling or unable to perform necessary oral dental hygiene. Based on their knowledge of the patient, the dental professional may disqualify some potential candidates.
Once the patient has communicated interest in completing the implant procedure and is confirmed as a good candidate, the dental hygienist can ensure they are properly educated on the implant procedure. Some of the methods for educating patients on implant education can include videos or DVDs, brochures, models, before-and-after photos, referrals and other types of online resources.
The dental implant procedure is unique in that it combines surgical treatment with the placement of the implant into the jawbone, and restorative treatment which restore the missing teeth.
Over the past few decades, the surgical and prosthetic techniques used for dental implants have significantly evolved. This has allowed more patients to qualify as candidates with few limitations. While there are still some limitations, most patients qualify as candidates for receiving implants. With the increased popularity of the implant procedure across the general population, it has also resulted in increased expectations on the outcome of the procedure.
A general dentist who is well-trained and experienced with implant procedures may assume full responsibility for simple cases. This may include cases where the patient has an adequate amount of bone present in non-esthetic areas, or cases where there are no periodontal concerns. In other cases, which are becoming more popular, a more comprehensive team approach must be used.
In summary, the following members should be included in the dental implant team:
- General dentist who is competent in basic dental implant diagnosis and treatment, basic periodontal diagnosis and therapy, in addition to basic dental implant surgery and prostheses
- Dental nurse who is capable of providing surgical assistance and perioperative care
- Dental hygienist who is able to educate the patient on maintenance and care of the dental implant
- Dental technician who is trained in dental implant procedures