Should Implant Dentists Be Licensed?

Came across an interesting story about implant dentists in Saudi Arabia (ah, the wonders of the Internet!). The headline tells us that more than half of dentists were unqualified to place dental implants. But when you read the article, it turns out that the dentists in question are simply unqualified because they are general dentists, and in Saudi Arabia, dentists need a special license to be considered implant dentists.

It makes us wonder whether dentists in the US should be asked to get special licensing before they are allowed to place dental implants.

How Dental Licensing in the US Works

dreamstime_xs_38417712In the US, when a dentist is licensed, they are given permission to practice pretty much any dental procedure, with a high degree of latitude for their professional judgment. Even in areas where we recognize the value of specialized knowledge, such as in orthodontics, periodontology, and pediatric dentistry, dentists are pretty much allowed to practice as they see fit. There is an expectation that dentists will practice ethically with a good sense of their limits, but one wonders whether this is always the case, especially when one sees so many general dentists advertising for dental implants.

Are Patients Being Harmed?

It seems that in areas where specializations exist, it might be sensible to make specialization a prerequisite for practice. After all, specialists give up the right to practice as general dentists, shouldn’t general dentists also forfeit the right to practice as specialists?

But the question hinges on what is best for our patients. What really matters is whether our patients are being put at risk when dentists that have little or no training in implant dentistry are allowed to place dental implants.

And that’s where we really have no answers. We know that dentists who have less experience have a much higher failure rate for dental implants than those with more experience. But we don’t have any comprehensive figures for failure rates of dental implants placed by general dentists compared to those that are placed by periodontists.

Which brings us back to Saudi Arabia. The article states that 90% of dentists who apply for a specialist license in that country failed the test. Although training is probably better in the US, we still can’t help but wonder what percentage of dentists currently placing dental implants would fail a licensing exam.

If you would like to receive a dental implant with the assurance that it’s being placed by a periodontist rather than a general dentist, please call 310-275-5325 for an appointment with a Beverly Hills implant dentist at Ravon Knopf.

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