Is there such a thing as a dental implant specialist in Singapore?
Thank you for your question and for being so candid about your phobia for dental treatment. It takes courage to face your phobia and to try to overcome it, and finding the right dental surgeon is so important in helping you to have the confidence to get the dental implant treatment that you need and want.
To get straight to the point, there is no such thing as a dental implant specialist in Singapore, or anywhere else in the world. The field of Dental Implantology is not recognised or registrable as a specialist field in Singapore or anywhere else in the world. If this changes , i would be the first to take whatever qualifying exams that are necessary to register myself as a dental implant specialist! However, i do not foresee that this change will come anytime soon.
In Singapore, these are the 3 categories of dental surgeons that are legally allowed to perform dental implant surgery for their patients:
1. General Dental Surgeons who are fully registered with Singapore Dental Council (SDC).
2. General Dental Surgeons who are conditionally registered with SDC ( But they have to be supervised ).
3. Specialist Dental Surgeons, regardless of their field of dental specialty, who are registered as specialists with SDC.
For these 3 groups of dental surgeons, it is NOT a legal pre-requisite to show proof of further training in the field of dental implantology, in order to be legally allowed to perform the treatment.
Therefore, in theory, any dental surgeon who falls into any of the 3 categories above, is legally allowed to perform dental implant surgery for their patients even if they have no prior experience doing so. The onus is on the dental surgeon to ensure that he is competent and confident in performing the dental implant surgery for the patient, before actually doing so.
Having said that, it is fair to say that most dental surgeons would be responsible enough to ensure that they are properly trained in dental implants before even attempting to perform dental implant surgery on their patients.
The problem is , the term "properly trained" can be subjective.
There is a myriad of dental Implantology courses, diplomas, degrees and qualifications out there in the dental marketplace today. Some of these courses last only half a day, and the longest ones over a few years. Some are conducted in Singapore, and many others conducted overseas. The vast majority of such courses are NOT recognised by the Singapore Dental Council to be registrable as displayable postgraduate qualifications.
In your research for a good implant dental surgeon, you may find online or through word of mouth recommendations that there are some dental surgeons who are more " well- known" for being "good" at dental implants.
It is not fair for anyone to make a sweeping statement to say that all category (3) specialist dental surgeons are better or more experienced than all category (1) and (2) general dental surgeons in performing dental implant surgery. Likewise, the converse is also true, so therefore i do not blame you for realising that finding a dental surgeon whom you can trust in dental implant surgery is not as straightforward as you would have hoped.
At the end of the day, after you have done your research, it is most important that you find a good dental surgeon that you can connect with, feel comfortable with and whom you can trust to be honest and caring , diligent with his work and skilled and experienced with dental implant surgery.
I wish you all the best and if you have time, do spend a few minutes reading some of my other articles that i have written on dental implants.
Dr Gerald Tan
The Singapore Dental Council does not list implant dentistry as a separate specialty. You can access the list of recognised dental specialties here.
The specialties that train dentists for implant placement are oral & maxillofacial surgery, periodontics (gum) and even endodontics (root canal) fields. You can check if your dentist is listed on the specialist dental register here. The Dental Specialist Accreditation Board (DSAB) is the body that is responsible for the accreditation and listing of dental specialists in Singapore.
This does not mean that general dentists (non-specialists) are prohibited from placing implants. Many general dentists are very experienced in implant placement and rehabilitation. A general dentist can also give you a balanced view of your treatment options, including non-implant options.
General dentists may refer you to a specialist if your implant case is more complex.
After the implant is placed, you also need to have it maintained. This is usually done by your general dentist.
Ask for credentials, before/after photos of cases, long term follow-up xrays of implant cases done by the dentist you are considering. You mentioned that you have a phobia of dental treatment, so finding a dentist that you are comfortable with and that you trust is important.
In the end, your responsibility for the longevity of your dental implants or other dental work you may need goes beyond just finding "the best" dentist. Most dental problems will recur in the long term, unless you can commit to regular dental maintenance and prevention. If not, you will be substituting one kind of dental problem for another.
I can understand why you would be concerned since losing a tooth / having a missing tooth is not a happy occasion most times. And now to follow, you are thinking about doing an implant surgery.
But rest assured, it is not as scary as it seems. The general feeling of an implant is the same level of comfort / discomfort as having a regular tooth out. And there will be numbing provided via local anesthetic.
Some clinics also provide further sedation to put patients at ease.
The reality about implant dentistry in Singapore is that whether a dentist is a specialist in gums or an oromaxillofacial surgeon or a general dentist, any of the above can place implants.
For a dentist to technically qualify to do implants, all they need to do is go for a training course conducted by the respective implant company over a period of time (depending on course syllabus) which could be a 4 part module in order to be certified at placing implants.
However, experience is an invaluable learning curve and the dentists who do more implants whether as a qualified specialist or general dentist can have comparable skills depending on the operator themselves and how difficult your case would be considered.
My advise to you would be to pick a dentist you feel you can trust, go for a consultation and if you feel more comfortable with a specialist, then either seek out a specialist directly or go through the referral of a general dentist.
I hope this helps with your dental implant journey!