What Is an Implantologist & How Do They Differ From a Dentist?

What Is an Implantologist & How Do They Differ From a Dentist?
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What Is an Implantologist & How Do They Differ From a Dentist?Clinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
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Table of Contents

  1. Implantologists Explained
  2. Schooling & Credentials Needed for an Implantologist
  3. Implantologist vs. Surgeon
  4. Who Can Place Your Teeth Implants?
  5. References

A dental implant can be placed by a dentist, periodontist, oral surgeon, or a dental expert called an implantologist.  An implantologist often has extra training, education, credentials, and experience placing implants compared to a general dentist or even an oral surgeon.

Tooth loss is extremely common. It can be the result of trauma, gum disease, failed dental procedures, or tooth decay. Nearly three-quarters of adults between the ages of 35 and 44 are missing at least one permanent tooth.1

Dental implants are a permanent answer to tooth loss. They can improve your quality of life by replacing the missing tooth with a surgical fixture that will fuse with your jawbone and gums.2 An implantologist can ensure the procedure is done well.

Implantologists Explained

An implantologist differs from a general dentist in that they often have focused training, more education, a different level of credentials, and more experience with this kind of highly specialized dental surgery. The definition of an implantologist is a dental expert who places dental implants.

When you lose a tooth —whether due to injury or trauma, gum disease, tooth decay, or a root canal that fails — you will often need a permanent solution like a dental implant to replace the lost tooth. Placing a dental implant is a highly specialized procedure where a surgical fixture is placed into the jawbone to mimic the tooth’s natural root.

With time, this will fuse to the bone and gums. It is the closest thing to a natural tooth you can get.Dental implants have the following benefits:3

  • High success rate of over 97 percent for at least 10 years
  • Ability to maintain the bone around the lost tooth
  • Decreased risk of problems with adjacent teeth and for dental caries
  • Lessened sensitivity to nearby teeth

Dental implants placed by an implantologist can preserve the integrity of your mouth after losing a tooth and therefore improve your quality of life.

Schooling & Credentials Needed for an Implantologist

Typically, anyone with the title implantologist has been accredited and certified by the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID). There are three levels of certification. General dentists, oral surgeons, and periodontists can choose to undergo this specialized program path to become an Associate Fellow, Fellow, or Accredited Diplomate (Diplomates of the American Board of Implantology/Implant Dentistry- ABOI/ID). Qualifications are as follows:

An Associate Fellow must:

  • Be a licensed dentist.
  • Complete at least 300 hours of continuing education or postdoctoral work relating to implant dentistry.
  • Have at least one year of experience in the field of implant dentistry.
  • Be experienced in placing dental implants and/or replacement teeth.
  • Pass in-depth oral and written examinations to demonstrate competency in implant dentistry.
  • Present and discuss personal, successful patient cases using implant dentistry as well as demonstrate competency with five standardized cases.
  • Have attended at least one out of every three consecutive AAID scientific meetings.

A Fellow must:

  • Be a licensed dentist as well as an AAID Fellow or Diplomate of ABOI/ID.
  • Complete at least 400 hours of continuing education of postdoctoral work relating to implant dentistry.
  • Have five or more years of experience in the field of implant dentistry.
  • Be knowledgeable in all facets of implant dentistry, including placement of dental implants as well as the replacement of teeth.
  • Pass in-depth oral case examinations to demonstrate competency in implant dentistry.
  • Must present and discuss 10 of their own patient cases, including placing dental implants in challenging situations, and demonstrate competency in all aspects and phases of implant dentistry through five standardized cases.
  • Have attended at least one of every three consecutive AAID scientific conferences.

A Certified Diplomate ABOI/AD must:

  • Be a general licensed dentist and AAID Associate Fellow or Fellow, or board-certified specialist in oral and maxillofacial surgery, or be a non-board-certified specialist, or graduate from a dental implantology program that is at least two years.
  • Complete 670 continuing education hours with 300 of those hours being part of a continuum of training in implantology, if a general dentist. Associate Fellows and Fellows must complete 570 continuing education hours with 300 of those hours being part of a continuum of training in implantology.
  • Have at least seven years of experience in the field of implant dentistry.
  • Present and discuss 10 of their own patient cases, including placing dental implants in challenging situations, and demonstrate competency in all aspects and phases of implant dentistry through five standardized cases.

Fellows, board-certified specialists, and graduates of a two-year implantology program do not need the in-depth oral and written examination that other routes do.

Implantologist vs. Surgeon

Oral surgeons are often called oral and maxillofacial surgeons. They have specialized training in the field of dental surgery. They often work with dentists in a team effort to offer a high level and continuum of care.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons often work as part of a dental team in a health care facility or dental practice. Many also have their own practices. They are often trained in the placement of dental implants.

Periodontists are specialized dentists who deal with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of gum disease as well as the placement of dental implants. The main difference between oral surgeons, periodontists, and implantologists is the level of specialization involved. An accredited and certified implantologist deals only with dental implants, while general dentists, oral surgeons, and periodontists manage a variety of other dental issues.

Who Can Place Your Teeth Implants?

Technically, any dental doctor can do your implants, such as a general dentist, oral surgeon, periodontist, or implantologist. It is important to find someone with experience and understanding in the field.

When you choose an implantologist, you will know that this professional has extra training and education in this specific field. They will be best equipped to manage potential complications that may arise.

Dental implant surgery is complex. The practitioner placing them must be aware of all facets of the procedure, what could come up, and how to deal with things as they do occur.4 Because of this, an implantologist with the highest level of training and expertise can be the best choice.

When choosing someone to perform dental implant surgery, ask about their experience placing dental implants, their training, and whether or not they are certified or accredited specifically to manage dental implants. Ask about their success with other patients and how they plan to manage challenges if they occur during your surgery.

General References

Implantologist. Medical Dictionary. Date Fetched: September 22, 2021.

Training, Experience & Credentials. (2020). American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID). Date Fetched: September 22, 2021.

Periodontics. Mouth Healthy. Date Fetched: September 22, 2021.

Risks and Complications Associated With Dental Implant Failure: Critical Update. (Jan–Jun 2020). National Journal of Maxillofacial Surgery. Date Fetched: September 22, 2021.

Medical References

1 Current Trends in Dental Implants. (April 2014). Journal of the Korean Association of Maxillofacial Surgery. Date Fetched: September 21, 2021.

2 Dental Implants: The Last 100 Years31249-1/fulltext). (January 2018). Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Date Fetched: September 21, 2021.

3 Dental Implants. (2021). StatPearls. Date Fetched: September 22, 2021.

4 Classification of Dental Implant Complications. (2018). Misch’s Avoiding Complications in Oral Implantology. Date Fetched: September 22, 2021.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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