Dental implants in general practice – I know I have to but how do I start?
Dental implant courses have proliferated in the last few years. From weekend courses to year programmes, from MScs to diploma programmes, there is a plethora of available education from a variety of experienced (and not so experienced) tutors at home or abroad.
Having been training dental surgeons in dental implants for 13 years, the first question I get asked is: ‘How many implants will I get to place?’
With respect this is the wrong question. It is like signing up for your first piloting lesson and asking when you get to fly the jets. The principles must be learned first. ‘It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it’ goes the saying. In other words, quality, not quantity is the objective of these beginners’ courses. It is to teach safety and protocol.
Teaching implant dentistry
The teaching of dental implants is not the teaching of how to drill a hole and put a screw in it. Doing this well is certainly an important skill and part of mastering dental implants. However, again with respect, any dentist should be able to drill a hole and put a screw into it and for sure an implant course must entail placement of implants in patients under supervision, and yes, the more one does, the better one gets. But this is not the whole story…
It should also cover involving a multitude of other disciplines that ensure that implants you place are still successful 20 or 30 years down the line and that you are still in business and proud of the work you have done at the end of it. As with any skill, knowledge is power and being able to correctly diagnose and plan a case is absolutely mandatory before implants are placed and restored.
Dental implants can be a complicated decision tree. When do I use one technique over another? Do I need to provisionalise and how should I do this? Should I immediately place, or load, or both and what is the advantage to doing this? Do I have enough bone? Do I really have enough bone and what are my soft tissues going to do later? How do I handle cases that require bone and tissue augmentation? What is my occlusal scheme and is it stable? What are the pitfalls and risks of a certain technique? Why did this implant work but that one fail? What makes one system better than another? Why did this screw loosen? Why did this crown or abutment fracture? Do I screw retain or cement? Do I link implants or not? What do I charge? What can I guarantee, and should I? What does it really cost to do and how does this vary by case complexity? Will the tissues be stable? What patient risk factors should modify my planning and how? How do I document and audit the cases I do? How to I medicolegally cover myself? How do I communicate with patients when I am first starting out? Which cases can I do safely and what will I need help with? Who can provide that help when I need it? Who will help me treatment plan? What changes will I have to make to my practice and staff education?
The London Implant Academy is formed by three experienced clinicians with over 65 years’ experience between us – we really have seen it all and it is our pleasure to travel the first steps on your implant journey with you. We want to teach and see you grow and gain confidence and skill. Come and join us from February to December 2016 for a weekend a month of inspiration and solid grounding in this growing and invaluable field of dentistry.
For more information visit londonimplantacademy.co.uk.