Dental Implant Team

As the US population ages, more and more patients are choosing dental implants as the optimal solution for missing natural teeth. Current research estimates that nearly 30% of adults over the age of 65 are missing all their natural teeth, and by the time they turn 50, most adults have lost one or more natural teeth. As dental implants continue to rise in popularity, developments in manufacturing and material innovations have helped simplify dental implant treatments and increase the convenience and comfort of dental implants. Because of the large number of patients who seek dental implant therapies, combined with the personalized nature of each implant treatment plan, it is important to manage all treatment details and communicate effectively throughout the duration of the implant treatment. Selecting a competent and communicative dental implant team can help simplify the implant treatment and make it a more satisfying and rewarding experience for both the patient and the team.

The dental implant team could consist of many different people, including a general dentist and a restorative dentist, a dental hygienist, lab technicians, the dental assistant and dental staff, and any dental specialists whose skills might be needed, like an endodontist or an orthodontist. To ensure a smooth procedure, each member of the dental implant team should be involved with communication at each step of treatment. Sometimes, some members of the team may have more than one role; for example, if the team includes a general dentist who performs implant surgeries, that dentist is also typically the restorative dentist on the team. The restorative dentist assumes the leadership role as coordinator of the implant team. This dental specialist will also have a thorough grasp of the surgical considerations for the patient’s implant procedure and will coordinate and engineer a comprehensive treatment plan. The team leader is also responsible for making appropriate referrals to other members of the implant team throughout the treatment.

The dental hygienist may or may not be present at the surgery, though dental hygienists are familiar with the implant surgery procedure and most have observed previous implant treatments. Dental hygienists also stay up to date about developments in implant technology and the ways these developments might affect the care and maintenance of the dental implants. Innovations in technologies and products can improve aftercare and ensure the success of the dental implants, and dental hygienists learn about these innovations through continuing education courses and professional publications. The dental hygienist is an important part of the patient-selection process and instruction for maintenance and hygiene. Additionally, once the surgery has been completed, the dental hygienist will often adopt the role of team coordinator, continuing to communicate with the other implant team members as needed and working closely with the patient to ensure the efficacy of long-term care.

Because dental hygienists work closely with patients over the course of multiple routine examinations and cleanings, they are familiar with their medical history and their hygiene habits. If patients are missing teeth, the dental hygienist and dentist will assess whether the patient could be a good candidate for dental implants by evaluating the patient’s history of gum disease as well as their risk of future gum disease. Risk factors include certain medical conditions, smoking and other habits, and a history of ineffective oral hygiene; when active gum disease is present, it is treated before implants could even be an option. If a patient is determined to be a good candidate for dental implants, the dental hygienist can introduce them to the procedure and explain the options for dental restorations.

In a handful of straightforward cases, general dentists may be able to place dental implants, but most implant procedures require an implant team. All general dentists should be adept at diagnosing potential dental implant patients and working with them post-operatively for continued therapy; because gum disease can be highly destructive to dental implants, general dentists are also well-versed in diagnosing and treating gum disease before it advances and requires a specialist. In addition to the general dentist and the dental hygienist, the implant team includes a surgical nurse who assists in surgery and pre- and post-operative care, and an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Many patients require additional team members as part of their overall treatment, but the core of an implant team is constructed of these specialists working closely with the patient throughout the procedure. At your consultation to plan your implant treatment, your primary dentist and your oral surgeon will examine x-rays of your jaw and thoroughly review your dental implant options with you, and together, you will design your customized treatment plan. Maintaining dental implants requires effective oral hygiene habits, so make sure to be a team player and brush and floss daily, and don’t forget to see your dental hygienist and dentist according to their recommendation. Together, you can help your dental implants last a lifetime.


Dental Implant Temporary Tooth