Updated: Oct 12
Many types of dentists can do implants because the niche is shared across the industry. We will review which types most commonly place dental implants and also which ones restore them.
Dental implant specialists
Despite the prevalence of implants, the American Dental Association (ADA) does not recognize dental implants as its own unique specialty. There are 12 recognized dental specialties and an implant specialist is not one of them.
Instead, the procedure is incorporated into the various types of dentists that perform them. There is a distinction between the dentists that place the implants vs the dentists that restore them with a crown. Some will only only put in the implant while some will only restore them. Then there are the rare exceptions who can place and restore dental implants.
Type of dentist that places the implants
A dental implant is a medical grade titanium screw that gets placed into the bone and jaw of the mouth. When given enough time for it to heal, the bone will grow around it and lock it into your jaw. That process is called osteointegration, meaning it has integrated with your bone.
This is the first step to getting an implant and is also considered the surgical stage because it is the most difficult part of the process. The type of dentist who puts the implant in is usually referred to as dental implant specialists.
Oral surgeon. They are surgeons of the mouth with the most additional years of training in dental surgical procedures such as tackling wisdom teeth removal to implant placement. They can handle the most complex implant cases such as full mouth rehabilitation cases where they can extract all of the teeth and then replace them all with implants.
Periodontist. They are the gum specialists of the mouth with additional years of training in gum procedures. They not only place implants but they will also do gum surgery and gum grafting procedures. The benefit of having an implant with the periodontist is that they pay particular attention to how the gums heal around the implant. They ensure that your new titanium screw will integrate into your body with no gum disease.
Prosthodontist. They are the prosthetic specialists of the mouth and will typically do more complex implant cases. They can still do the simple cases where only 1 or 2 implants are required but most patients only seek them out if they have a very complex case. The prosthodontist will not only place the implant but will also restore them with a dental crown afterwards.
General dentist. You may be surprised but your typical general dentist can place implants. Not all of them are trained to do so but many of them do undergo additional training to learn to place implants. The benefit of having your general dentist do them is that you don't need to travel to another office to see a specialist to have it done because you can do everything in one location. The category of general dentist also includes family dentists and cosmetic dentists.
Type of dentist that restores the implants
Typically 3-6 months after the implant is placed, you will need to have it restored by getting a dental implant crown on top. The second step is the restorative stage of the process and the type of dentist that does this are considered restorative dentists.
General dentist. If you had your implant placed by an oral surgeon or a periodontist, you will need to return to your general dentist to get the crown placed on top. The surgeon and gum specialist will not make a dental implant crown for you because they only do the surgical phase. If you do have a dentist that places and restores them, it would be convenient for you because you don't have to travel between offices.
Prosthodontist. The prosthodontist will also restore the implants with crowns. Once again they mostly do the complex cases such as full mouth rehabilitation where it involves more than a couple of implants and even up to the entire mouth. The perk of seeing this dental specialist is that you can have the placement and restoration done at the same office. The downside is that they do tend to charge a higher fee than the general dentists.
Those are all of the type of dentist that does dental implants but just to reiterate, the entire process involves two steps, the surgical phase and the restorative phase. Certain types of dentists may do just one phase but there are some that will do both phases.
This article is brought to you by your favorite long island city dentist, Dr David Chen.