The American Dental Association does not recognize any specialty field specifically for dental implant treatment. Therefore, it is against our bylaws for anyone to call themselves a “Dental Implant Specialist”. However, there are three dental specialties that have specific training for dental implants: Prosthodontics, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Periodontics.
Prosthodontics is the specialty and a “Prosthodontist” is the reconstructive specialist. The “prostho” means prosthetic, or any dental device that is made as a tooth replacement. A prosthodontist attends a 3-year residency program focused on the restoration of adult teeth. It is the only dental specialty specifically oriented to the restoration of adult teeth. A surgical prosthodontist is a dental specialist that also does dental implant surgery and the subsequent tooth replacement. People seek out these specialists because all work can be completed in one office.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery is the specialty and an “Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon” is the specialist. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon goes an additional 4 or 6 years to learn jaw surgery, wisdom tooth extractions, dental implants and oral pathology. An oral surgeon can place the dental implant in the jaw bone but does not make the teeth, after healing.
Periodontics is the specialty and a “Periodontist” is the specialist. A periodontist attends a residency program for three years after dental school. This specialty tends to the bone and gums around teeth. They are responsible for diagnosing and treating “gum disease”. The can also do gum grafts and the surgical phase of dental implant treatment.
A patient should educate themselves about the various levels of training and education that their dental care providers have achieved. Many dental offices advertise to be “specialists” in dental implants but the reality is that these practices have much less training and education compared to a specialty practice.
Board certification by one of the specialty groups discussed above should also give the consumer some clue as to how far the dentist has taken his or her career. Board certification in other areas of dentistry are also very favorable for patient outcomes. Even though an area of interest does not qualify as a “specialty” designation they speak volumes to the level of commitment of a professional to better themselves. For example, the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and the American Board of Oral Implantology all offer board certification examinations. They are very difficult and time consuming tests. Very, very few dentists have completed these rigorous examinations. So, it is possible for dentists and dental specialists to have more than one board certification. In medicine, it is a common phrase to hear that someone is a “dual board certified” specialist. In dentistry it is practically unheard of to have dual board certifications. So, the responsibility is on the consumer to verify the credentials of the dental care provider they chose.
At the Dental Implant Center and Dignity Dental all dentists are board certified specialists in tooth replacement. Additionally, the senior partners are dual board certified in tooth replacement.