The short answer is yes. The truth is any licensed dentists in North Carolina is permitted to place dental implants. A more appropriate title to the article is “Should A General Dentist Place Dental Implants?” The answer to that question is maybe. An unqualified general dentist who places dental implants may be liable for dental malpractice.
A dental implant is a titanium post similar to a screw that is surgically positioned into the jawbone beneath the gum line to act as a tooth root which allows your dentist to mount a replacement tooth on that post. If performed correctly, an implant doesn’t come loose and can also be used for bridges. In some situations a dental implant is a better alternative than traditional dentures. For several reasons including its versatility and stability, dental implants have become more popular in recent years.
A dental implant is a surgery. Therefore in North Carolina, a general dentist placing dental implants is held to the same legal standard of care as surgical specialists who place implants. In other words, general dentists should have the same amount of training and experience as surgical specialists if they choose to provide surgical dental implant treatment, including bone grafting.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and Periodontists are the only surgical specialists recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA). As part of their surgical training, they attend post-graduate residency programs. Oral Surgeons must spend an additional four years beyond dental school in a hospital-based residency, including a full year of anesthesia training. Periodontists must attend three-year surgical residency programs following dental school. The formal training and education alone is significantly greater for surgical specialists than for general dentists.
A substantial amount of the training and experience obtained during these residency programs is focused on anticipating, diagnosing, and treating surgical complications. The most unusual and challenging cases are sent to teaching hospitals, giving the residents an opportunity to routinely treat complex cases, many of which they might never see in private practice. This level of expertise enables surgical specialists to handle potential complications that could occur during procedures. This is critically important for surgical specialists as they perform surgical procedures for numerous patients on a daily basis
Dawson & Albritton has represented individuals for dental malpractice for several years. Our law firm has recently represented clients who received extensive dental implants from unqualified general dentists. These clients had complex cases and should have received treatment from an oral surgeon or periodontist at the outset. Unfortunately, these clients were originally treated by general dentists who obtained implant training through various weekend courses. As a result of the general dentists’ lack of experience and training, our clients suffered severe and permanent injuries requiring many months of treatment by oral surgeons and periodontists.
The following questions can help you determine whether a non-specialist is experienced with dental implant placement.
- How many surgical training courses has the dentist taken and how long was each course?
- How many courses has the dentist taken specifically on handling complications from dental implant and failed bone grafting?
- Does the dentist attend yearly continuing education courses on implant dentistry? If so, how many each year?
- How many years had the dentist been placing implants and how many implants does the dentist place each year?
- Does the dentist refer complex or difficult cases to a surgical specialist? If so, who is the surgical specialist as it doesn’t hurt to get a second opinion?
- How many bone grafting procedures has the dentist has done?
Implant dentistry is not emergency medicine. Patients need to take their time and research the qualifications of their provider before allowing their general dentist to place dental implants. If you or a loved suffered severe complications after having dental implants placed by a general dentist, you may be the victim of dental malpractice. Please contact Dawson & Albritton for a free consultation.
Harry H. Albritton, Jr.
Dawson & Albritton, P.A.
Attorneys at Law
204 E. Arlington Blvd., Suite M (27858)
PO Box 6003
Greenville, NC 27835