Your dentist tells you that you need a dental implant. You go to the oral surgeon she recommended and he places an implant. For seven years, the implant works perfectly and doesn’t hurt at all. And then, one morning while eating breakfast, the crown on your implant comes off. A few minutes later, you feel intense pain around the implant. You make an emergency trip to your dentist’s office and she tells you that the implant appears to be broken — and she can’t fix it. Half of the implant is stuck and she can’t remove it. You consider going back to the oral surgeon’s office but do you really want help from the doctor who put you in such a painful situation?
Unfortunately, this kind of nightmare is common in the dental world. Patients frequently come to our office with broken implants or cracked implant crowns. These patients went to other oral surgeons who placed their implants but years later, when the implants started malfunctioning, the oral surgeons couldn’t help. Why? Because dental school teaches dentists to think like doctors. It doesn’t train them to think like engineers.
When a dentist places a dental implant, (s)he should be taking into consideration a myriad of factors. The first, and perhaps most important, is design. Did the implant manufacturer engineer a quality implant? Does the design lend itself to longevity? If your dentist randomly chooses an implant brand, that’s a huge red flag. You should be able to ask your doctor why they chose that specific brand of implant. If they can’t give a good explanation, you may want to start searching for another implant specialist.
The second factor your doctor should be thinking about is materials. Is the implant made of the best possible materials? Are they long-lasting? You don’t want your implant to last five to ten years. You want it to last a lifetime — and it should last a lifetime.
The third factor is whether or not the implant is guided. This is huge so pay attention. With non-guided implants (freehand implants), doctors place the implants essentially blind. They go in hoping to place the implant in the exact location and at the most viable angle for long-term success but it’s a gamble — a dangerous one. If a doctor places an implant at a slightly wrong angle, it can have disastrous results years later. Think of how, if you bend a wire hanger over and over again, it eventually breaks. If an implant receives pressure from an angle over and over again over the course of a few years, it will eventually break. The best way to avoid this is to use 3D planning and surgical guides to ensure the implant is exactly where it needs to be. A surgical guide makes placing an implant an exact science instead of a guessing game.
Our office’s implantologist, Dr. Robert Stanley, has a DDS and a Ph.D. in Engineering. At first, patients are confused about how a doctoral degree in engineering could help a dentist perform his job better. But when he explains how engineering principles apply directly to dental implants, they realize that it’s his engineering knowledge that makes his implant success rate so high. It’s also what allows him to help patients who’ve experienced implant failures.
If you live in North Carolina’s Triangle and you’re looking for a doctor who can place an implant or one who can remove and replace a broken implant, call our office. Dr. Robert Stanley (or, as we like to call him, the Smile Engineer) will be able to fix it. He’s helped hundreds of patients who came in with painful, failed implants.
Give us a call at (919)460-9665. We’ll see you soon!