Monthly Archives: May 2018

Should I Switch Implant Dentists in the Middle of Procedure?

I’m nervous I picked the wrong dentist to do my dental implants. I have two anterior teeth he’s replacing. The surgery is complete and I’m waiting for the healing. He did a Maryland Bridge so I’d have teeth in the meantime. Unfortunately, the bridge has failed three times. He’s replaced it free every time, but he’s got me worried. If he can’t handle the bridge, what about the implants? My understanding is if the implant fails, he can’t just do it over. Is that right? Is it safe to switch dentists in the middle of the procedure?

Meagan

Dear Meagan,

Dental Implant Diagram

You’re right about a lot of things here. We’ll start with your correct assumption that if the implant fails he can’t just re-do it. If you look at the image of the dental implant directly above, you see how important it is to have bone integrated with the implant. That’s what keeps it secure in your jaw. Now, let us suppose your dentist doesn’t get the procedure correct and your dental implant fails. It’s going to take bone with it.

In order to replace the dental implant, you’ll need to have bone grafting done to build bone up in the area and secure it after the replacement surgery.

Temporary Teeth During Dental Implant Healing

A drawing of a Maryland Bridge
A Maryland Bridge

Your dentist did a Maryland Bridge. Most dentists would have done a dental flipper for your temporary replacement. Additionally, it doesn’t sound like he knows how to place a Maryland Bridge. This is a false tooth attached to two wings which can be etched and bonded into your adjacent teeth.

This procedure is much less advanced than dental implants and he doesn’t seem capable of getting it right. I have close to zero confidence he will get your dental implants correct.

You are perfectly within your rights to switch dentists at this point. Truthfully, you don’t even have to have a real reason. You can just simply not like that dentist. Either way, he is ethically bound to pass on all the records for your treatment to whichever dentist you choose next.

Who Should Do Your Dental Implant Procedure?

This isn’t something you want to trust to your average family dentist. There isn’t a specialty in dental implants, which makes sense because it’s one procedure. But, it does require specialized training. You want a dentist who’s invested a significant amount of time in post-graduate training. Ideally, including the surgical process and the cosmetic considerations of the restoration. Your chances of a successful outcome go up when the same dentist does the surgery and restoration.

To give you an example of what level of training you want, Dr. Potts did a three-year externship at the Midwest Implant Institute. No dentist should mind you asking what type of post-graduate training the have. If they act offended, they’re not the dentist for you. It probably means they don’t have the right training.

Considerations When Replacing Visible Teeth

Any restoration done is permanent. While something like teeth whitening will work on natural tooth structure, it won’t work on any dental restorations. However, if you whiten your teeth ahead of time, they can make the restoration to match the new, healthier looking color.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. David Potts.

The Most Work in One Appointment

I hate dentists. I hope you won’t be offended by that I just find it’s best to be honest up front. I have what is possibly a tooth infection. It hurts. So, if I’m going to suck it up and go in to see a dentist, I want to get as much work done as possible. What’s the most work I could get done in just one visit?

Carlton

Dear Carlton,

A woman's eye closed, asleep from sedation dentistry

I’m sorry about your toothache. Your admission about dentists doesn’t offend me in the least. I also think it’s important for patients to be upfront about things. It helps me to know the best treatment options for them.

How much work can get done in one appointment varies so much from dentist to dentist it’s hard to give you an estimate. Plus, you didn’t mention what procedures you think you’ll need. A tooth infection will need a root canal treatment. However, I don’t know if you’re talking about a root canal on a front tooth or a molar. That also varies in time. Some dentists can do a molar in one hour, but most take up to one and a half to two hours.

Dentists who use dental sedation are usually able to get more work done per appointment. The reason for that is it’s easier on the patient. Dentists limit the patient’s time in the chair out of consideration for their comfort. Sedation keeps them comfortable for longer periods of time. You may even find it changes your outlook about dental care and start going more regularly.

Tooth Pain is a Dental Emergency

Please don’t put this off too long. Tooth pain is often a sign of a dental infection. I know it sounds hard to believe but people still die of tooth infections. The United States saw several deaths from from infected teeth in 2017.

The sooner you deal with it the better. It may be the tooth can be saved. If it gets too far along, it will end up needing to be extracted. That will require expensive tooth replacements, such as dental implants.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. David Potts.