Restoring your smile with dental implants is a big decision. The procedure requires lots of time and money, and it involves intensive oral surgery, so it’s essential that you choose the right dentist.
Sadly, there have been documented cases of dentists who have taken advantage of their patients’ trust and recommended unnecessary procedures or hid unapproved extra charges in the bill. Even worse, some dentists have offered dental implant placement without having a proper license, risking their patients’ health and safety in the process.
Though the vast majority of dentists are honest and only want to protect your smile, it’s in your best interest to ask lots of questions and do thorough research before you commit to an implant specialist. Explore our guide to learn some easy ways to avoid dental fraud.
Patient Reviews, Awards, and Case Studies
When you’re evaluating a new dentist for trustworthiness, looking at their patient reviews is a great place to start. Any reputable dentist should have several reviews available on Google, Yelp, and other sources. Though patients’ opinions aren’t proof of quality alone, a high average score is a good indication that you can trust that dentist.
For example, Dr. Roman Shlafer is an implant specialist in Farmington Hills, MI with an average review score of 4.9 out of 5 on Google. This nearly perfect score is based on 71 reviews, showing that patients widely agree that they’re satisfied with his treatment. Dr. Shlafer was even recognized as one of the top 20 dentists in Michigan for 2018, an additional sign that you can trust him with your smile.
In addition to reviews and awards, never hesitate to ask a dentist if you can see before and after photos of their previous patients. Some dentists feature galleries of these photos on their website for your convenience, proudly displaying the successful treatments they’ve completed. If a dentist claims not to have any photos, or refuses to show them to you, you’re better off seeking treatment elsewhere.
Education & Training
Another valuable criterion to consider for avoiding dental fraud is the level of education and training a dentist has received. If they provide little or no information about their background, you should look for another provider.
When considering a dentist’s education, the first thing you should determine is if they have a DDS or DMD. These two degrees amount to the same level of education, but if they don’t have one or the other, you should be concerned.
A highly experienced implant dentist should also have completed additional training or continuing education. For instance, Dr. Peter Troyan, an implant provider in Hoffman Estates, IL, completed advanced implant training at the renowned Misch International Implant Institute.
Misch is an organization respected by dentists all over the world, and they’ve been training implant specialists for over 30 years. If a dentist you’re considering completed the Misch curriculum, you can feel confident they have the knowledge and experience to place your implants.
Professional affiliations are another great way to evaluate a new dentist. Most implant specialists will be members of multiple organizations, demonstrating evidence of their experience and validation from their peers.
First of all, you should check if your dentist is a member of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID). In order to receive this certification, they have to pass a thorough exam in addition to providing evidence of extensive experience and education. They also may be a member of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) or the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD).
The most valuable affiliation an implant dentist can have is a credential from the International Congress of Oral Implantologists (ICOI). There are three levels of credentials: Fellowship, Mastership, and Diplomate, with each one signifying a different amount of training.
Dr. Nicholas Sager in Hewitt, TX has achieved Diplomate status with the ICOI, the highest certification available. This shows that he’s successfully placed at least 120 dental implants and completed over 250 hours of continuing education, among other requirements. If a dentist is certified by the ICOI, you can feel totally confident entrusting them with your smile.
Never Hesitate to Ask Questions
Perhaps the most important piece of advice for avoiding dental fraud is to always ask questions. As stated earlier, receiving dental implants is an intensive and costly procedure, so any dentist who’s irritated by your questions is an immediate red flag. Any qualified dentist should be more than happy to explain everything in detail and ensure you understand.
If your dentist is recommending additional treatments or supplemental procedures that you don’t think are necessary, ask them for clarification. If you don’t get a satisfying answer, do some more research and ask for a second opinion. When it comes to treating your smile, never accept vague answers or overlook worrisome details – the state of your oral health could be at risk.
If you follow the steps we’ve suggested and thoroughly research your dentist in advance, you shouldn’t have any issues. However, in the rare case that a dentist tries to deceive you, your best defense is to always pay attention, ask plenty of questions, and speak up if something seems wrong.