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Practice roots

July 15, 2015
At a recent lecture I gave at a major dental meeting, I asked the few hundred dental professionals there, "How many of you restore root-form dental implants?" It was no surprise that about 95% of the audience raised their hands.

Louis Malcmacher, DDS, MAGD

At a recent lecture I gave at a major dental meeting, I asked the few hundred dental professionals there, "How many of you restore root-form dental implants?" It was no surprise that about 95% of the audience raised their hands.

My next question was, "How many of you surgically place dental implants?" I estimate that not even 10% of the hands went up. This group, mostly general dentists, certainly reflects nearly every lecture that I've given in North America in the last 15 years with almost no change. According to an American Academy of Facial Esthetics (AAFE) survey in April 2015, for some strange reason, only about 8% to 10% of general dentists in North America surgically place dental implants.

General dentists around the world certainly have proven that it is well within the capability of every general dentist to be able to surgically place dental implants. So what's stopping them?

1. I'm confused by all of the implant systems out there.

I've seen implant companies that list nearly 500 different implants, abutments, and accessories. That literally scares dentists from getting started because they think they'll need every piece. Let me boil it down for you: You have to choose the implant that fits the clinical situation, and you get the drills and attachments that fit the implant. You take an impression, and then it's just like putting a crown on any other tooth. For entry-level implants, you need only a few things to get started.

2. The surgical procedure is difficult.

The surgical procedure for placing an implant in the first molar area and forward is much easier than that second molar crown prep. Dental implant placement is similar to screwing a screw into a very hard wooden board. Some people are going to scream at me for the simplicity of that analogy, but truth be told, if you're placing an implant into cortical bone, it's not all that different. Of course, you need to know the anatomy involved as well as the proper choice of equipment and tools to make it easier, but the actual physical and clinical procedure is not very difficult to accomplish for the skills that most general dentists have.

3. I need to buy a lot of expensive equipment.

No, you don't. In terms of equipment, you can easily start with a basic surgical kit that comes with just about any implant system for anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000. That's just about all you need to surgically place a single-unit dental implant. Considering that patient implant fees run anywhere from $3,000 to $4,000 per implant, you will quickly recoup your initial investment on very simple implant cases. You most certainly do not need a CT scan for every implant case.

I'll follow this with my own viewpoint, which will hopefully interest you to learn more about this fast-growing area of dentistry that you need to incorporate into your practice.

Choosing implant training

If you're a general dentist, look for dental implant training that's geared for the general dentist. You should ideally look for a course that speaks directly to you and your practice, taught by faculty who have practices like yours so you can see how to properly integrate your new skills into your practice. The AAFE has many resources in this area and can help direct dental practitioners to courses best suited to their skill levels.

The bottom line is that placing dental implants today is a straightforward procedure for the most common cases. Anesthesia is easy to accomplish, which makes this a painless procedure for patients. With proper instrumentation, planning, and training, it is a fairly quick procedure. With the right education, you can surgically place dental implants much faster than you can do a crown preparation, an endo procedure, or a MOD composite resin restoration. Stop with the excuses and get started today!

Louis Malcmacher, DDS, MAGD, is a practicing general dentist and internationally known lecturer and author. Dr. Malcmacher is president of the American Academy of Facial Esthetics (AAFE). You can contact him at (800) 952-0521 or [email protected]. Go to www.FacialEsthetics.org to find information about live-patient, frontline TMJ and orofacial pain training, dental implant training, frontline dental sleep medicine, bruxism therapy and medical insurance, and Botox and dermal fillers training. You can also download Dr. Malcmacher's resource list and sign up for a free monthly e-newsletter.

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