In 2011, I wrote a blog on 7 habits of highly skilled implant restorative dentists. With great advances in dental technology, I am adding one more to the list. Top dental implant dentists have great training, exceptional skills, and a remarkable knack for details. But they also share several common habits. Here are the 7 habits of highly skilled implant restorative dentists:
- They work as a team with trained surgeons: The best results are achieved when the surgeon and the restorative dentist work as a team, each doing what they do best: the surgeon placing the dental implants and the restorative dentist restoring them. Great restorative dentists recognize that no one can truly master both disciplines. They count on their team oral surgeon to precisely place the dental implants that they can effectively restore later.
- They begin with the end in mind: Great results are achieved when the restorative dentists know exactly where they are going with the proposed treatment. They imagine the perfect restoration, create a prototype through a simple laboratory wax-up, do a thorough diagnostic work-up, and begin the treatment with specific goals in mind. They consider all of the technical and biological implications before they start the treatment to predictably deliver the desired results.
- They take lots of photos: Digital photos offer great details that sometimes can be overlooked by the naked eye. Dentists use photos to improve diagnosis, help choose the right treatment, understand limitations, and the realistic results they can deliver. Photos provide dentists with a baseline reference on where they started and how they are progressing towards the intended results. Digital photos are also a great communication tool to make sure the surgeon, laboratory, and even the patient are aligned with the goals and the journey getting there.
- They take responsibility for the final abutments: A few years ago, some surgeons began placing the final abutments (the component that sits on the implant and supports the crown over it) which is inherently a restorative procedure. They offered this service as a marketing tactic to make the treatment easier and cheaper for the general dentists, and increase patient referrals from them. Exceptional implant restorative dentists don’t expect their surgeons to place the final abutments. They want to be in full control of the abutment design and placement because they understand the importance of proper material, form, aesthetic requirements and fit for highly cosmetic and functional final crowns.
- They use only customized abutments: Top implant dentists use only customized abutments rather than stock ‘off-the-shelf’ abutments that may be cheaper to use but rarely provide the same results. Customized abutments fit the implants with precision and have a unique form that gives the final crown its proper emergence, appearance, and hygienic features. In other words, the crowns will look better, last longer, and are much easier to clean.
- They collaborate with master ceramists and lab technicians: The lab technician is the third corner of the classic triad of a dream implant team (the other two are the restorative dentist and implant surgeon). Top dentists cannot achieve remarkable results without the workmanship and skills of ceramists and masterful lab technicians. Yes, they may cost a bit more, but well worth it if you want implant teeth that look amazingly natural, are easy to clean, and last a long time.
- They make great temporary restorations: When replacing teeth in the smile zone (upper front area), top dentists know the value of great temporary restorations before making the final crowns. It is an absolute essential in getting the best cosmetic results. Temporary restorations help to form an even gum line, bring balance and harmony, and prevent unsightly gum recessions and ‘black triangles’. Top dentists fabricate temporary restorations such that they closely resemble the final crowns, because they know it will make all the difference in the final outcome.
- They use digital techniques and workflow: With cone beam CT scan (CBCT), optical scan, and 3-dimensional implant planning software, the surgeon and the restorative dentist can now diagnose, plan, and execute the entire treatment in digital workflow. This adds great predictability, precision, and safety to treatments allowing the dental team to better deliver what patients expect. Using digital implant workflow, the surgeon will first take a cone beam CT scan and an optical scan. Then the planned teeth are virtually designed through a collaboration with the restorative dentist. The position of the plan implant is determined and a surgical guide is printed to guide the surgeon in proper placement of the implant. The restorative dentist will then design the final abutment and restoration from a digital impression of the implants and deliver the final restoration.
Lifetime dentistry is no accident. Dental work that looks great, stays healthy, and lasts for a long time is the direct result of dentists’ attention to details, knowledge, skills, and consistency in how they operate. It’s your teeth, your health, and your investment in time and money. Don’t expect anything less.
Dr. H. Ryan Kazemi is a board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Bethesda, MD