I need sedation dentistry for dental implants. I’m wondering whether I should go to a prosthodontist, an oral surgeon, or a periodontist to place my dental implant. Do these specialists handle sedation dentistry differently? I’m not sure what the difference is between all of these specialists anyway. I normally see a general dentist and he’s a great guy, but I guess he won’t do the actual surgery when placing an implant. He says he always refers patients out to a specialist and that he only does the crown on top. He gave me three different referral sheets and told me I could go to anyone. I didn’t really look at them while I was in the office, but now that I’m home, I see that one specialist is a prosthodontist, another is an oral surgeon, and the last one is a periodontist. How do I know which one to choose, and will each of them be willing to give me sedation dentistry?
My dentist promised to provide sedation when I get the implant crown, but what about the surgery?
Great question! Basically, any dentist can do dental implant surgery. And dentists who provide oral surgery offer some level sedation. From a general dentist who just graduated from dental school to a specialist—all of them can place dental implants. But if you’re going to have extensive work done, you want an expert. Statistically speaking, the doctor’s level of training and experience is the most influential factor in the outcome of dental implants.
Even some general dentists have taken extensive post-graduate training in implantology and are highly qualified to place implants. But your dentist is referring you to a specialist. So how do you choose your specialist, and will he or she be willing to provide sedation dentistry?
Which Levels of Sedation Dentistry Will Be Offered?
Most general dentists often offer nitrous oxide (laughing gas). Specialists offer higher levels of sedation, including oral conscious sedation (anti-anxiety medication in pill form) and I.V. sedation. You can call each specialist’s office and ask what levels of sedation will be offered to you.
Dental Implant Specialists Who Offer Sedation
After finishing dental school, doctors can begin practicing right away, or they can continue school for several more years to become a specialist in one of the nine specialties recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA). They define the area as:
“Oral and maxillofacial surgery is the specialty of dentistry which includes the diagnosis, surgical and adjunctive treatment of diseases, injuries and defects involving both the functional and esthetic aspects of the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region.”
The ADA defines this area as:
“Periodontics is that specialty of dentistry which encompasses the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth or their substitutes and the maintenance of the health, function and esthetics of these structures and tissues.”
From the ADA:
“Prosthodontics is the dental specialty pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment planning, rehabilitation and maintenance of the oral function, comfort, appearance and health of patients with clinical conditions associated with missing or deficient teeth and/or oral and maxillofacial tissues using biocompatible substitutes.”
Which Specialist Should You Choose?
Regardless of which specialist you choose for dental implant surgery, each of them will offer adequate sedation dentistry to relax you and minimize your sensitivity to pain.
Oral surgeon – Oral surgeons are trained to surgically treat diseases, injuries, and defects. In other words, it’s their job to treat damage, trauma, and malfunction. This could include:
- Cleft palate
- Jaw trauma
- Wisdom teeth extraction
- Dental implant placement
Periodontist – The periodontist description, mentions “teeth or their substitutes” and talks about maintaining health and function. Periodontists typically
- Periodontal disease
- Bone loss, including bone grafting
- Structural problem
Prosthodontist – The description for prosthodontics says, “clinical conditions associated with missing or deficient teeth.” Prosthodontics is an entire specialty for missing tooth replacements, ranging from dentures to dental implants.
We suggest that you review each dentist’s website to learn about his or her qualifications. Look for the following:
- Years of experience
- Credentials, including state board certification, fellowship, or mastership in dental implant organizations
- Published works on implantology
- Patient testimonials or reviews (some might be published on external sites)
Choose at least two specialists and schedule consultations with each. This gives you an opportunity to ask questions about dental implant placement, as well as your options for sedation dentistry.