What Is an Implantologist & How Do They Differ From a Dentist?

If you’re curious about dental implants, the first thing you need to do is speak to a dental professional. But who is the best person to speak to? Should you head straight to your general dentist for advice, or is a specialist dentist more likely to have the answers?

While all implantologists are dentists, not all dentists are implantologists, so it makes sense to understand the different roles before booking a consultation. While all dentists will be able to offer advice on dental implants, not all dentists will be comfortable confirming if you are a suitable candidate or not, so it could be a waste of your time. In this guide, we’re exploring the role of the dental implant surgeon in more detail so you can understand the best course of action if you are looking for a smile transformation.

What are dental implants?

Dental implants are small titanium screws that are placed into the jawbone and left to bond with the bone. This creates a strong foundation anchor for a restoration such as a crown, bridge or denture. The implant replicates the role of the natural tooth root, offering a second chance at having all of your adult teeth.

Dental implants are placed during a surgical procedure that is carried out by an implantologist or dental surgeon.

What does an implantologist do?

What does an implantologist do?

Implantologists do more than just place implants. They are involved in every stage of the treatment journey, from initial consultation to aftercare and support. They are highly skilled dentists who have chosen to specialise in placing dental implants. A typical day for an implantologist could include the following:

  • Meeting with prospective patients to determine if they are suitable candidates for dental implants.

  • Taking X-rays, CT scans and digital scans to help inform treatment plans.

  • Working with treatment coordinators to design treatment plans that work for their patients.

  • Surgically placing dental implants, fitting abutments and placing final restorations.

  • Adjustments to restorations to ensure a perfect fit.

  • Replacing and ordering repairs for dental appliances like crowns, bridges and dentures.

  • Aftercare support for patients, in practice and over the phone.

  • Teaching dental students about the implant process.

  • Attended conferences and skills seminars to learn about new materials and techniques in the dental implant sector.

This is just a sample of what an implant dentist might get up to on a typical day. As you can see, this is very different to what you would expect from a regular dentist.

How does a dentist become an implantologist?

How does a dentist become an implantologist?

To be able to call themselves an implantologist, a dentist must undertake additional training. The most common routes are through an MSc or PGDip. This can take around 18 months to 3 years to complete. It includes a range of learning approaches, including classroom-based learning alongside practical, skills-based learning.

Only a dentist who has taken a course in implantology can call themselves an implantologist. And it’s important to note that a dentist should never refer to themselves as a dental implant specialist, as this isn’t a recognised job title according to the General Dental Council.

Who should I see to discuss dental implant treatment?

Who should I see to discuss dental implant treatment?

If you’re thinking about dental implants but aren’t sure where to turn, your routine dentist is usually the best place to start. They may even offer dental implants, but haven’t made you aware of this yet. And if they don’t, they will at least be able to offer you a referral or a recommendation.

When you are more serious about dental implants, you can then book a consultation with your chosen implantologist. Remember that this is also your opportunity to ask questions, so make sure you write everything down ahead of your appointment so that you don’t forget.

If you have already had dental implant treatment and are looking for aftercare support, you can either visit the dentist who placed the implants, or you can return to your routine dentist – if they aren’t the same person. Any dentist will be able to assess the health of your dental implants and determine if further action is needed. However, if you need further surgical treatment, you may need to be referred to an implantologist again.

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