How to get started in full arch implant dentistry

Andrew Legg explains why it’s important to take small steps in your implant dentistry journey.

It is quite common for those starting out in implant dentistry to want to tackle the most rewarding, expensive and ‘sexy’ cases as soon as possible.

Full arch implant education and reconstruction is about as complex as it will get in general practice. Yes it is expensive, yes it is rewarding, but it is equally difficult to do well and fraught with complications and heartache when it goes wrong.

The best analogy I can give is that of an expensive supercar. If you buy a Kia (considered to be at the budget end of the scale), you get a seven year warranty! This means that apart from your wear and tear items such as brakes and tyres, your costs will be generally speaking fixed for the first seven years of ownership. These cars are straightforward, easy and inexpensive to maintain and work as you would want.

In contrast, consider a supercar such as a Mclaren or Lamborghini. You may only get a one to three-year warranty, despite spending up to 10x as much as you would on a budget car. These cars are complex machines, with high-end precision components. They can go wrong and when they do they are expensive to repair.

In implant dentistry, the same applies. As the treatment gets more complex then the complications become more difficult to manage and more expensive to remedy. Unlike a car however, you are dealing with something much more emotive!

Full arch implant dentistry

I began my journey in full arch implant dentistry over 10 years ago and to begin with relied on my mentor to guide me through the first few cases. There is no doubt that the rewards are huge as you are potentially providing life-changing dentistry. But the journey begins with small steps. Once you are competent in handling straightforward and advanced cases you will want to move to complex full arch cases.

As with any aspect of dentistry, planning is key. We spend hours each week planning cases, using photos, CBCT scans and study models (analogue or digital) to decide how we are going to tackle cases. From the patient’s smile line, the amount of bone available, whether the patient wants fixed or removable, we need to plan the case carefully to decide, with the patient, what their best treatment option will be. The only way to become competent in this is through practise and learning.

Learn from those who are more experienced, they will tell you where they went wrong and how to avoid the mistakes they made!

At the Campbell Academy we offer a three-day Full Arch Implant Live Skills course to get you started. Over the three days we discuss the planning, surgical and restorative aspects of full arch cases finishing with the observation of a full arch immediate case.

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