Implants in an instant? What about these Dental Implant Centers?

You may have seen the full page ads in the newspapers or the billboards along the freeways.  “Teeth in a day” by “the leading experts in the field of implant dentistry”.  Never in the history of dentistry have we seen such a marketing blitz.  Dental Implant Centers (DICs) such as Clear Choice, which now has 34 centers located all over the country, have been tapping in to the growing consumer demand for instant access to information and services.

These centers are the result, partly, in the rapid development of new technologies that have resulted in protocols that can potentially allow the process of replacing missing teeth to be much less time consuming.  They tend to be based on particular protocols such as the “all on 4″ process the allows for a full arch of teeth to be placed on only four dental implants.  These protocols are not unique to these centers.  Traditional dental offices working with their team of specialist have been doing this for years now.  What is different is that these centers focus on a more narrow range of options which allows them to be very streamlined and efficient but some have expressed concern that they may be applying a “cookie cutter” approach to care.  There is no doubt that these techniques can be successful if performed with meticulous attention to detail and applied to patients who meet the criteria for care.

What are the advantages of these DICs to a patient?  They can be a convenient way to address their needs for tooth replacement with everything under one roof.  If they are appropriate candidates for the specific procedures offered they will, most likely get good results.  Will they get teeth in a day?  This is very misleading to consumers.  The answer is that they can get teeth on the same day as surgery but they will be provisional restorations (temporaries) with the final permanent restorations being placed about eight months later.  The will also have a consultation appointment and a records appointment prior to any surgery.

What are possible disadvantages to this approach?  Because of the very focused approach to treatment patients may not have all options for care presented and explained to them.  Care is provided by people who have no relationship to the patient as does their family dentist.  As mentioned previously, the process may take much longer than eluded to in the marketing.  There is still some concern by experts in the field of implantology about supporting up to 14 teeth on just 4 implants and loading them with temporary teeth immediately.  An extensive body of research suggest the need for implants to integrate with bone prior to accepting load for proper healing.  These procedures are quite expensive.  By focusing on this highly lucrative niche in dental care these companies can afford their huge marketing budgets and continue their rapid expansion in the dental marketplace but patients may not be getting less expensive options offered to them.

This philosophy is in opposition to many in the profession who believe in  a more personal approach to patient care, one in which all options to care are thoroughly explained and the most conservative approach is chosen given the patients circumstances and desires.  One in which working with a highly trained and highly qualified interdisciplinary team of local professionals is the best recipt for success.

Are we really ready for “McImplants”?  Is this style of dentistry the wave of the future?  Maybe.  Is there a place for franchised dentistry in today’s marketplace?  Sure.   Are these DICs really a clear choice?  Hardly.