Implant dentistry is a field which involves the replacement of missing teeth. This area of dentistry includes diagnostic, surgical and reconstructive procedures to restore the missing dentition. The use of dental implants to provide support for the replacement of missing teeth has rapidly become an important adjunct to conventional dentistry. This recent expansion in the use of oral implants has occurred over approximately the last 10 years. The body of research data which emerged from Sweden and was introduced in North America in 1983 has defined sound biological concepts which have dramatically increased the long-term prognosis of dental implants. This prospective research has given the dental community a scientifically based protocol for the treatment of patients with oral implants. In turn, this has established a vastly improved ability to rehabilitate both the edentulous and partially edentulous patient with predictable prognoses using implant devices.
Procedures involving oral implantology can generally be separated into surgical and non-surgical procedures. A true expert would have qualifications in both the placement and the restoration of the implants. In many instances two different practitioners are involved in the care of the patient in a "team concept" to overcome this lack of expertise in all phases of therapy.
While the most common techniques are well supported by scientific research, some procedures are less well documented. The "sinus lift" or augmentation procedure has been developed for the treatment of the posterior maxilla to correct insufficiencies in available bone for implant placement. Nerve repositioning techniques are currently being used to allow the placement of implants into the edentulous posterior mandible which has insufficient height of bone. Bone augmentation services are being offered to improve the quantity and quality of available bone. Autogenous bone is the most predictable material, however, many other materials including specialized membranes are being used to promote bone growth.
Inappropriate patient selection and informed consent issues often are important when considering potential litigation. A patient must be given opportunities to ask appropriate questions of their dentist prior to the procedure. Pictures and models should be used in order that a patient can see the devices and understand the potential benefits and risks of the proposed treatment.