Dental Implants

Difference between Implantologist & General Dentist

Published on 03/05/2024

When you decide you want to start exploring the option of dental implants to replace missing teeth, you might find that your routine dentist refers you to an implantologist. This isn’t something to be concerned about, and it’s simply a sign that your dentist either doesn’t have the time or the training to carry out your treatment.

Dental implant placement is not a standard part of dental training, so it isn’t something that every dentist will offer. The main difference between a general dentist and an implantologist is the level of training they have received in implant placement.

In this guide, we’re unpacking some of the common questions we hear from patients about the difference between an implantologist and a general dentist. By the end of this article, you should be a little clearer on the difference in the services provided and how to choose the right dentist for your needs.

How does a dentist become an implantologist

How does a dentist become an implantologist?

All dental specialists will start out as general dentists. Many will then choose a specific branch of dentistry for further study. This could include orthodontics, endodontics, cosmetic dentistry or dental implants.

To become an implantologist, many will study for a Master’s Degree or a Postgraduate Diploma in dental implants. This typically takes between 18 months and 3 years to complete. At the end of the training, the dentist can then call themselves an implantologist.

Note that no dental professional is allowed to say they are a treatment specialist, regardless of their level of training. This includes implantologists. The specialist term is not a recognized job title in the dental profession, and dentists are not allowed to use this terminology in their marketing materials. This is determined by the General Dental Council.

Why should you visit an implantologist

Why should you visit an implantologist?

If you’re thinking about dental implants as a potential course of treatment, you may wish to visit an implantologist. Going directly to an implantologist could help to reduce the number of consultations you need before you start treatment.

However, many people feel more comfortable seeing their usual routine dentist first. This can allow you to ask questions about the treatment in a more comfortable environment. Your usual dentist may offer dental implants and you’re not aware of this, or they might have a recommendation for a trusted implantologist.

You might also want to visit an implantologist after you have had dental implant treatment. This could be for a routine checkup or to ask questions about your recovery. If you’re concerned about the health of your dental implants, you might want to visit an implant dentist to put your mind at ease.

What does an implantologist do?

What does an implantologist do?

An implantologist will often specialise in dental implant treatment plans and will not provide general dental care like checkups and fillings. However, some implantologists continue their family dental practice and split their time between the two services. The role of the implantologist is as follows:

  • Consult with patients to determine if they are suitable for dental implant treatment

  • Take X‑rays, CT scans and digital scans to inform treatment plans

  • Create the treatment plan alongside a treatment coordinator

  • Administer oral conscious sedation for nervous patients

  • Place the dental implants during a surgical procedure

  • Place the dental abutment

  • Place the final restoration

  • Follow up appointments with patients to check on the health of their implants

  • Bone grafting and sinus lifting, where required

  • Teaching trainee implantologist

Within the scope of the general implantologist role, there are also more specialised dentists who focus on complex cases. This enables them to place more complicated implants such as zygomatic dental implants, which are longer and anchored to the cheek bone.

Should I visit an overseas implantologist?

Should I visit an overseas implantologist?

While you may have seen implant treatment offered for reduced prices if you head overseas to places like Turkey, we wouldn’t recommend this option. There are a few reasons this could be bad news for your oral health.

  1. You won’t be able to check the credentials of your dentist, so they might advertise themselves as an implantologist, but they might not be trained to the same standard as dentists in the UK.

  2. The language barrier can make consultations and treatment more daunting. If anything goes wrong during your treatment and they need to change the treatment plan, you might not be aware.

  3. The implantologist you meet during your consultation might not be the one carrying out your treatment. It’s common for implantologists to lead the consultation, and then for a trainee dentist to take the lead on the treatment.

  4. If anything goes wrong with your treatment, there will be no legal recourse to make them put it right. In the UK, you have the protection of the General Dental Council, but no such protection exists if you go overseas.

  5. You could be left footing the bill for putting things right after an overseas implantologist has made a mistake during your treatment. This could be incredibly costly.

Ready to book your consultation?

If you’re curious about dental implants and would like to know how they might transform your life, get in touch today. Book an appointment with our implant team to find out if you’re a suitable candidate for treatment.