Choosing your dental implant specialist –
the essential guide
An Interview with Dr. H. James Garel
Anyone who has lost one or more teeth can restore them with dental implants.
It’s true for people wearing removable full or partial dentures. For people with bridges that are starting to fail – or who are having problems maintaining them. Some people have had accidents or traumatic injuries. Others may lose teeth when a root canal fractures, and need relief from pain and infection, too.
When is the best time to get them?
Do it as soon as you can. There are several reasons why. Implants can help you keep your youthful profile. Generally, the longer you wait to replace teeth, the more jawbone you stand to lose. Still, today’s new technologies are working wonders. People who couldn’t have implants a few years ago now can.
What extraordinary experience with dental implants do you have?
As an oral surgeon, my initial training included a 4-year surgery residency. Additionally, each year I attend two or three courses focused entirely on implants, training in advanced technologies and procedures.
As to experience, I’ve placed thousands of implants since 1984 – and developed precision surgical skills over 20 years. Now I do about 100 implant surgeries a year. The key is to know surgical anatomy so you can deal effectively with complications.
Many doctors are doing implants now, and qualifications vary widely. People with surgical experience – like oral surgeons – need to be the ones doing implant surgery. Choose wisely. It can make a real difference.
So it all comes down to the question, ‘Who do you want doing your implant surgery?’
That’s right. People come to my office not to have implants, but so they can restore their teeth. Dental specialists work as a team. OMS surgeons like myself do dental implant surgery, because that’s what we are expert at doing. Restorative doctors build crowns, bridges and dentures – that’s their expertise.
Think of it as a construction project. I’m the guy who builds the foundation. The restorative doctor is the one who builds the house.
Are there questions you should ask before deciding?
- Ask doctors how many implants they have placed – and when.
- What kind of complications have they run into? What might occur, and what can be done to take care of complications?
- What type of training have they had? How often do they get continuing education in implants?
Of course, for your particular condition, ask about healing time, and how many visits and surgeries you may expect.
What else should you know?
How much are dental implants? This is a big question for people. Insurance companies are realizing that dental implants are an important surgery. Delta Dental of California now includes implants in its standard package of treatments. A few other insurance companies are starting to cover implants.
We will work with your insurance company to see what coverage you might have and help you get those benefits that are available to you.
If you consider financing, we’ll assist you in being approved for a healthcare credit card called Care Credit. It offers 0 percent interest-free payments for 3 to 18 months, or up to 60 months at 10 percent interest.
Do you have any further advice?
Do your homework. Make sure you’re comfortable with who’s treating you and that they have the experience to take care of you properly.