When somebody is seeking out primarily implants, and let’s say they say, “Oh, I went to another dentist, they said I didn’t have enough bone.” We usually will offer a complimentary consultation, where we will sit down with the patient and discuss what it is they’re trying to do. In the case of implants, if they come to us and say, “Yeah, my other dentist said I don’t have enough bone.” The first thing we’ll do is we’ll take a look and we’ll see, well, do they have enough bone?
Because nowadays with all the different implant systems out on the market, the different designs in the implants, some of them are fat and short, some of them are long and skinny or called mini implants, and the availability of what we call a CT scan which is something new in the profession, in the last five, six years. We have one in our office. We’re able to visualize all the bone in someone’s mouth in three dimensions in under a minute, which is really nice because then we can go in and in virtual reality, treatment plan their case ahead of time.
And I can see, well sometimes, they do have enough bone. It’s just located in different areas. And in the case of that patient, depending on what we’re trying to do or what they want, desire, whether it’s a full mouth set of teeth or maybe just a few, we can go in and say, “Okay, well if we do this and this, we can change the treatment around just a little bit and we can still give you your teeth, and we can find the available bone.”
In some cases, there are, you know, where the person doesn’t have enough bone. And so that’s when we get into growing new bone. And this is really the most exciting part in dentistry today, because it’s huge and it’s advancing so quickly. Procedures that used to take years in order to grow new bone, now we’re able to do it in three, four, five months. So it speeds treatment up, it’s less invasive, so there’s not as much discomfort afterwards, and we can actually regrow bone in certain areas and put our implants in. Or even in some instances, put the bone in and the implant at the same time, which even speeds the treatment along even quicker for the individual.
Because everybody wants their teeth yesterday, and so we try to do that as much as we can, but there are limitations out there. But the nice thing today is with modern technology, there’s ways around the person that doesn’t have enough foundation. I think the majority of general dentists out there don’t do implants or maybe they just restore implants, and so a lot of the implants are being sent to the oral surgeon. They will send the patient to an oral surgeon which is another office, and they’ll have to coordinate an appointment with the other specialty dentist, have the implants placed, and then have the patient come back.
And so there’s a lot of coordination, and I think, when patients get older like that, a lot of dentists are like, “Oh, that’s gonna be too much work for the patient.” Or maybe even the patient thinks, “Oh, that’s gonna be really difficult. I don’t wanna drive over here and drive over here,” because it’s hard for them to get around. So that’s one of the big opportunities we have in our office, is that I am the surgeon but I’m also the general dentist. So I can do the implants for them and do their prosthetics or to give them their teeth, essentially.
I had a patient just this last week, Lynn, who came in and she has her own dentist but saw an advertisement we were running in the newspaper about implants. She came in to see us just to get an opinion because she was told she didn’t have enough bone. She’s actually only missing three teeth but she wanted those three teeth replaced and she didn’t want to wear a denture, which is what her dentist told her she would need.
And when I first looked at her, I thought, “Well, you know, I think your dentist might be right. It doesn’t look like you have enough bone. You might have to grow some new bone, and that might add some expense and some time to the procedure. But I think, the first thing we should do is get a scan and see what we could do.” And five minutes later, I came back and told her, “You know what? You have enough bone. It’ll work. I already planned it out and you can have your teeth the same day.”
And she was just stunned. She was like, “Wow, really?” And I go, “Yeah, and we can get started next week, if you like.” So that was really exciting and so that’s the benefits of technology. It’s like, if you can see what you can do ahead of time, it cuts down on problems later. You can give people a better accuracy and idea of what can be done, how long it’s going to take, how much it’s going to cost upfront, before they get into a big, long procedure and then they don’t know what’s going on there.