Patients who have missing teeth can often replace them with implants that are inserted into the jaw bone and on which a crown or bridge can be placed. Some implants that are designed to integrate and become permanently anchored to the jaw bone. Many general dentists perform implant surgery. However oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and Periodontists have more extensive and specialized training than general dentists when it comes to placing implants, making them more qualified to perform those types of procedures.
Prior to performing an implant placement, oral surgeons or periodontists should address several issues prior to placing the implant or implants.
- What is the type of system that will be used by the general dentists or restorative dentists who will be fabricating and placing the finished crown? Since not all dentists use the same implant system, the system that will be used should be planned by the team in advance of rendering any treatment.
- In cases where multiple implants or full mouth restoration is necessary, the surgeon decides, with the restorative dentist, the amount and where dental implants need to be placed. The surgeon is the one who will decide in the end where the implants will be placed after reviewing the panoramic x-ray, or in complicated cases, the CT scan along with the construction of a computer model and/or plastic splint that will permit the exact placement of the implants.
- The length and width of each implant that will be placed also needs to be determined. The surgeon needs to decide the size of the implant based on the width of available bone in the location of where each implant is going to be placed, as well as the height of the available bone. If the implant is too long it can damage a nerve or enter the sinus. If the implant is too wide, there is the risk of damage to the structure of the jaw or the implant could fail due to lack of sufficient support.
When the surgeon places the implant, they will make an incision through the gum tissue to expose the jaw bone. Then a hole will be drilled where the implant will be placed. This requires a specialized drill and the speed needs to be regulated by the surgeon so that the necessary bone can be removed without burning the surrounding bone, which would cause the implant to fail and not integrate fully or at all.
If an implant fails, it does not necessarily mean that the surgeon was negligent, as there is an acceptable rate of failure. However, if the surgeon fails to develop a comprehensive placement plan, places the implants in the wrong location or in locations that are unusable, injures a nerve, damages the sinus, or burns the bone at the implant site, then the dentist may have been negligent and committed dental malpractice.
If you or a loved one has experienced injury due to an oral surgery mistake, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
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