Using Today’s Tools to Meet the Growing Demand for Implants
With the proper training and technology, today’s general dentist stands to meet a growing demand for implant services, serving their patients well and boosting the practice bottom line. It has always been more convenient for the patient when the general dentist is able to perform extractions, grafting, implant surgery, and restorations—but now, there is an even greater need to offer this type of service in the practice.
We can attribute the increased demand for implant restorations to three groups:
• Baby boomers: This generation is aging, and we are seeing an increasing number of them in need of dental work. Age and tooth loss go hand in hand.
• Adults and teenagers with poor dietary choices or who use drugs: Consumption of items such as energy drinks, soft drinks, sports drinks, processed foods, and other items causes erosion of the enamel. We have also seen a rise in the use of drugs such as methamphetamines, even in the suburbs. There are often patients in their early 30s or younger who come in with rampant caries and gum disease due to drug use.
• Occlusion disharmony: Today’s society is so wired and device driven, and constantly on social media or playing games. We are seeing more and more patients at a young age clenching and grinding their teeth, and as a result, we see craze lines or cracks that extend to the point where extractions and implants are needed.
To meet patients’ demands and to predictably and successfully place implants, the general dentist must not only receive the proper training and education, but also use the appropriate technology in the practice.
For example, dentists who place implants should no longer be relying solely on 2D imaging. To meet the standard of care, you need to have a CBCT imaging system in the practice. With cone beam imaging, you can perform guided surgery and offer predictable implant placement at the time of extraction or as a 2-stage service. Further, the price of these systems has come down in recent years and they are much more affordable.
Another technology that helps greatly with implant placement is the intraoral scanner. When we take both a digital impression and a CBCT scan, we can stack these images, creating a 3D model that contains both the surface and subsurface anatomy. And the final piece of technology that is essential to the digital workflow is the software to plan and virtually place the implant.
With this digital workflow, what we are finding is that the entire implant procedure is going much faster, and it is becoming much more convenient for the patient, who does not have to return for multiple visits. Most importantly, we are able to offer implant placement that is effective, efficient, and predictable.