Beware of Deceptive Advertising
There is a great deal of pressure for dentistry to promote individuals who have advanced abilities in the area of dental Implantology. This website will tirelessly attempt to point out those individuals and organizations who incorrectly imply that they have special training or credentials in the field of Implantology. At this time, I feel that it is imperative to respond to an attempt by an organization of dentists to declare themselves the defacto "Specialists" in dental Implantology. That organization is the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID).
There is no recognized specialty of dental Implantology, however, through a loophole in the law, the AAID has declared itself an organization of "Credentialed Specialists" and has won test cases in the state of Florida and the state of California. These victories when used by AAID members to hold themselves out as specialists in Dental Implantology present a totally false picture to the public and I am confident that organized dentistry and the valid specialties that do exist will eventually overturn these rulings. The fact of the matter is that organized dentistry and the real specialties have been totally unprepared for this unprecendent move and have not yet had the opportunity to move to protect the public. Once all the facts are presented, the public will be made aware and they will once again be protected from fraudulent actions by the AAID membership.
First, let me explain how specialties in dentistry (and medicine) are organized to train and provide the public with credentialed practitioners who are capable of providing advanced treatments. There are now nine recognized specialties in Dentistry. Three of these specialties deal specifically with dental implants and they provide trained professionals to provide these services for their patients. These specialties are Prosthodontics, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Periodontics. Working together, these trained specialists can provide the very best care in their respected fields including the areas of implant placement and implant restoration. General practitioners can practice and include these procedures in the treatment of their patients and some of the general practitioners can become very good at providing these procedures. The specialist, however, take many years of recognized advanced training in dental school and hospital residency to master these techniques in an organized and recognized manner. The General practitioner must learn these techniques through short course of a one day or more duration. You can understand that there is a significant difference in the training of a specialist that involves several years of classroom and patient care under strict supervision with specified guidelines as opposed to the dentist who takes some weekend courses without any standardization or regulation.
Oral surgeons will study as many as 6 years after dental school to learn their way around the oral cavity. They will train rigorously to provide all sorts of surgical procedures while learning how to protect the patient and maximize the result to better the patients dental condition. Periodontists typically train for three years after dental school learning specific areas of surgery which will also include dental implant placement. Prosthodontists typically train for three years to learn the best ways to restore dental implants. In some programs today, Prosthodontists are also trained in implant placement although that is still rare. General dentists never get implant training in a dental school environment, because there is just not enough time to teach such specialized techniques. But, any general dentist who wants to place and restore dental implants is by law free to do so, even if it is not in the best interests of the patients.
I am a Board Certified Prosthodontist and my training enables me to efficiently and predictably restore dental implants. I started doing that in 1984 and my results have always been very good. In 1989, I started to learn on my own to place dental implants surgically. Today I place about 1500 implants per year for my own patients and for the patients of other Prosthodontists and general dentists. I am good at it and I have a very high success rate, but I am not a specialist in Implantology. My specialty covers only implant restoration and I would never think to mislead the public into feeling that I have specialty training in implant placement. I often consult and work with oral surgeons and periodontists when I feel my patients need that level of expertise and it always works out very well for my patients. Over the years, I have trained many general dentists to restore and to even place dental implants and I would like to think that they do a very good job for their patients with those techniques. However, none of us are specialists in Dental Implantology and to hold ourselves out as such, no matter what the legal rulings have been, is wrong.
I have been to several AAID meetings. I have lectured before them and I have stayed around to hear and see what some of them lecture about. I have always been disappointed in the quality of the work that has been on the screen. This is marked diference from lectures that I have seen in other organizations, most notably the Academy of Osseointegration which used to be made up of dental specialists.
Not all of you will have access to an Oral Surgeon or a Periodontist or a Prosthodontist. I do not object to having a general practitioner provide implant services for someone provided he or she has done their homework and has taken the time to really get good at it. Just because they have taken 150 hours of continuing education which can be quite variable and have passed a very arbitrary written test does not mean that they are a specialist in this area. It does mean that they are trying to learn how to do these techniques and if you have found someone that has succeeded in mastering dental Implantology You will be fine. Unfortunately, my findings have been that many of these so called "Implantologists" are just not up to the standards that real specialists uphold.
My suggestion to the patients is to check someone out carefully. Call the state dental board and find out if there are any complaints or judgments against the person that you are considering. One of the members of the AAID who has had one of the biggest dental implant practices in the world has had more dental malpractice suits against him than anyone else. Find patients who have been treated by the person you are considering and find out how they made out with their dental implants. Most specialists continue to get significant referrals in this area because they have few problems.
Do not let anyone tell you that he or she is a specialist in Dental Implantology The courts are looking at something other than their real training and these organizations and individuals are betting on that to give you false information. Be selective about how you pick your dental practitioners and try to find a board certified specialist whenever possible.
If any of you have specific questions about the credentials of a dentist that you are considering, please feel free to contact me. I get 20,000 people every week visiting this site to find out the real information about dental implants. I get a lot of questions and a lot of sad stories by people who were tricked into thinking that a non-credentialed dentist was a specialist in dental implants....S. Robert Davidoff, DMD, FACP
Please note that the opinions expressed on this page are strictly my own. Anyone wishing to rebut these opinons, please contact me and I will be glad to publish your comments...