Inspiration and empowerment

Susan Tanner introduces the BWSID and explains how it came about. What’s your background in dentistry? 

Susan Tanner (ST): I am a specialist prosthodontist with a great deal of experience in restoring dental implants.

I have a particular interest in working with patients who have extreme atrophy of their jaws, helping to rehabilitate them with life-changing treatments so they can eat and function socially with confidence.

I trained in London, then worked in maxillofacial surgery, conservative dentistry, orthodontic and paediatric dentistry hospital departments. I gained an MSc in prosthetic dentistry from the Eastman, and specialisation MRD in prosthodontics from the RCS, which both were transformative in how my career developed, easily preparing patients for their full arch implant treatments.

I take great pleasure in teaching small groups, mentoring on a one-to-one basis, and lecturing around the world.

Founding and developing the British Women’s Society of Implant Dentistry (BWSID) has been a wonderful experience, making new friends in the groups, helping clinicians begin their implant journeys and also developing mentoring skills with other experienced clinicians. What do you find so exciting about implant dentistry? 

ST: Dental implants have transformed the way I work and allow me to offer extraordinary life-changing treatments for patients that have given up on a fulfilling life socially because they cannot manage dentures with such resorbed edentulous ridges or with orofacial deformities due to trauma or
cancer surgery. Implant dentistry – or at least, surgery – has traditionally been a male-dominated arena. Is that beginning to change? 

ST: With the BWSID we hope to make changes to the mindset of female clinicians, presenting many ways one can be involved with implant dentistry from the simple, well-planned single posterior restoration to the complex case.

Most importantly, we want to find those experienced female clinicians and help them to lead local BWSID groups. By putting female dentists on teaching platforms provides role models, which is a crucial step in encouraging the younger generation to follow in their footsteps. How do you see the demographic of dentistry changing further as time goes on?

ST: Going by the proportion of male to female students coming out of dental schools, we are definitely trending to a larger percentage of female dentists in the future, and women will take on the traditionally male jobs such as surgery. What prompted you to set up the British Women’s Society of Implant Dentistry? 

ST: As a regular lecturer in implant dentistry, I was sad to see the dearth of women on the lecture circuit as role models, and also the small proportion of women attending implant conferences. I believe this has been often caused by chauvinism – an ‘old boys’ club’ mentality – in the field of implant dentistry, which many female clinicians have been exposed to.

There is also such an emphasis on surgery and complications, and the implant companies concentrate on implant sales to surgeons. There has been little opportunity for those without surgical experience, or who don’t want to take on surgical responsibilities, to engage with implant dentistry.

We saw an opening to encourage female clinicians to learn to restore dental implants in their practices, working together with a surgeon for the benefit of the patient. What does the BWSID set out to do, and how does it achieve it? 

ST: Our motto is to inspire, empower and support female clinicians in the field of restorative implant dentistry.

We organise five to six evening meetings per year per group, with groups at different venues around the UK. The agendas include lectures from group mentors and invited speakers, hands-on training, treatment planning, and discussion. We also have a members-only online forum. Tell us more about your members – who makes up the society? 

ST: We have dentists who have never engaged with dental implants, and those who have completed postgraduate degrees who feel that they have been abandoned and welcome the discussion and mentorship. What can female implant dentists expect from joining? 

ST: Education in the field of restorative implant dentistry, hands-on training, support, formal lectures, informal discussion, camaraderie, advice, mentorship. Can you tell us more about your annual conference being held this summer? 

ST: The conference is aimed at the dentist who is a novice or inexperienced with dental implants. It will be a wonderful, informative and relaxed day.

Click here to view the exciting programme for the day. What are the next steps for you and the BWSID? 

ST: We hope to build UK-wide awareness of the group. We also want to find women leaders for regional groups so that we can match up those clinicians looking for a local BWSID with those that can provide mentorship. What do you hope the future holds for women in the dental profession?

ST: My daughter is at dental school… Dentistry is a wonderful career.

It’s a privilege to be able to help patients, use your hands and brain creatively, work as a team, run a business; it’s challenging and satisfying.

I hope that in the future there will be no bars holding a female clinician back from any field of dentistry, and there will be no more chauvinism towards them.

The British Women’s Society of Implant Dentistry (BWSID) Conference 2019 – Embracing Implant Dentistry: Making it part of your everyday practice – takes place on 8 June at the Wellcome Collection in London. For more information, and to register, visit

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