Recent statistics from the British Dental Health Foundation have suggested that as many as 74 per cent of adults in the UK have had at least one tooth extracted. The reasons for committing to this course of action are too numerous to list, but the ramifications are particularly tangible.
A missing tooth can cause low self-confidence and poor self-image. It can also impede an individual’s masticatory efficacy, impacting nutritional intake and affecting general health.
Fortunately, modern dentistry gives us the means to combat this problem. The use of dental implants, for example, is a demonstrably effective treatment for partial or complete edentulism. In the last decade, it has become an indispensible facet of general dentistry and is increasingly viewed by the public as a viable treatment option.
This has naturally caused an increase in demand for implant therapy – and as we continue to see consistent technological advances, more predictable results and better aesthetics, we can only expect this demand to continue increasing. For dental professionals, this represents an opportunity to expand their service and offer their patients more treatment options. Unfortunately, however, there is a dearth of accessible undergraduate and postgraduate training that limits many from taking full advantage of this.
Undoubtedly, this will begin to change as implantology gains further recognition with both the public and the profession, but for the time being it can be difficult to approach adequate training. This can be due to unavailability, expenditure or even time. Yet, while there remains no specialist register for implantologists, the General Dental Council (GDC) strictly controls the provision of such procedures, and requires any practitioner to acquire the relevant clinical skills before they do so. Failure to heed the Council’s restrictions can result in deregistration.
It isn’t hard, then, to see the predicament in which many dental professionals find themselves. They are unable to meet the increasing demand for dental implants because they lack relevant training, but the barriers to access for this training are such that they cannot undertake it easily. From a business perspective, this is less than ideal, but it can also be detrimental to patients, since they will be required to find alternative treatment and travel to receive it.
There is an effective solution, however. With far fewer barriers to access, implant restoration can give practitioners a chance to integrate implantology into their practice without having to undertake full training. With no need for surgical procedures, implant restoration is a viable option for general dental practitioners and requires little in the way of expensive new facilities and equipment.
In essence, practitioners would be able to diagnose and plan implant treatment, refer the case out to a trusted clinic for placement, and see the patient again for restoration. A well-run implant restoration course will offer the skills needed to effectively provide the ‘book-end’ aspects of the treatment – planning and final restoration – allowing practitioners to remain integral to their patient’s implant treatment.
It will also introduce practitioners to potential referral practitioners, since many will run their own courses. In this way, attendees will be able to meet and build a professional relationship with an established implantologist who can support, mentor and place implants in the future. As working professionals themselves, they will undoubtedly understand the need for flexibility – and will be able to offer training at convenient times. This will allow practitioners the chance to learn new skills while continuing with normal day-to-day work.
Of course, choosing the right course is important, and practitioners must be aware of the need to find a trainer who is both approachable and supportive. This needs to continue long-term if they will be taking referred cases, since their ongoing assistance is crucial to success. If anything should go wrong in the restorative phase, for example, it is imperative for peace of mind to know that help is always available.
Implant restoration can be an exceptional stopgap for practitioners who do not have the time, budget or inclination to undertake full implant training. Many practitioners find this approach to be more enjoyable, less stressful and equally as effective at maintaining an increasingly demanding patient-base. For those who are preparing to place implants themselves in the future, a good implant restoration course will lay strong foundations for further training, making it easier than ever before to break into the implant market.
The demand for dental implants is increasing to the point that most patients will expect the option as standard. Ensure you can offer them a solution by undertaking a dedicated implant restoration course.
This article was first published in April 2016.