Well, the short answer is yes and no. Which isn’t helpful at all, in fact, that sounds like the sort of answer a politician would give!

So, what exactly do I mean?

It’s like anything, if you don’t know what you are doing and why you are doing it, then yes, implant dentistry can be difficult.

Which is exactly why appropriate education and training are essential to being successful in this exciting field.

Let’s begin by looking at implant dentistry in very basic terms; what are we trying to do?

Replace a missing tooth or teeth with an implant supported restoration.

How are we going to do that?

·         Establish your desired restorative outcome before placing the implants as this will determine where the implant(s) should be placed, and the number required.

·         Place the implant(s)

·         Design and fit the restoration

You can probably see why it has been said that “implant dentistry is a restorative procedure with a surgical element”.

General dentist all too often get hung up on the surgical aspect of implant dentistry and forget the restorative nature of the procedures. Read the statement above again and then we will move on.

OK, now we realise that we should only begin treatment when we know the desired outcome. But, there’s one more important consideration before you start, will the planned restorative outcome meet the patient’s expectations?

It’s so important that you identify the patient’s expectations as part of your case assessment. Only then can you properly begin to treatment plan the case. Good case assessment and treatment planning is the cornerstone of successful implant dentistry. That’s why I said that it’s important to know what you are doing (skills) and important to know why you are doing it (the knowledge that underpins the skills).

One of the greatest challenges we encounter in implant dentistry is inadequate bone volume in the location of the intended implant. At the end of the day, the bone is the foundation for our implant supported restoration. If that foundation cannot allow us to place the implant in the exact three-dimensional position required, then we must either change the foundation or consider a different treatment modality.

Oh! and I haven’t even mentioned periodontal status, occlusion (we don’t have the benefit of a periodontal ligament around our implant), soft tissue type, quality and quantity, smile-line, lip-line, relevant medical issues and many more factors that need to be considered and evaluated as part of our case assessment and treatment planning.

I could go on and on!

Implant dentistry is not rocket science. In fact, it's the combination of a lot of things that we're taught as undergraduates... but from a different perspective.

There is a saying, “all implant systems work” but to that I add the caveat, "only when used in trained hands, guided by an educated mind".

All the above is part of the reason I developed the Ultimate Implant Year Course. As well as the SmileTube.tv platform. Take a look and you'll see that we base our teaching around a quotation from Confucius;

“I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand”

Look at this interactive prsentation to learn more about us and see the difference for yourself.


About the Author:

ken nicholson small

Ken Nicholson BDS MSc. (Imp.Dent)

Ken NIcholson is the chairman of SmileTube and course lead for the Ultimate Year Implant Course. Dr Nicholson graduated from Queen’s University Belfast in 1982 winning the Ash prize in restorative dentistry. After several years in general practice he joined the Royal Army Dental Corps where he remained until 1988 when he returned to N. Ireland to establish a successful general practice.

After a decade in general practice he opened a dedicated implant referral centre, purpose designed for the delivery of implant treatment and teaching. In 2010 he was employed by the Postgraduate Medical and Dental School at the University of Central Lancashire to restructure the MSc programme in Implant Dentistry, prior to this he was instrumental in the development of the MSc course in Implant Dentistry at the University of Warwick where until April 2012 he was an Associate Fellow in the Institute of Clinical Education. He is the founder of the British Society of Oral Implantology, the co-founder of the European Journal of Oral Implantology, a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, and sits on the editorial board of the European Journal of Implant Dentistry, The International Journal of Implant Dentistry and Related Research, Implant Dentistry Today and The Irish Dentist. He currently is studying for his Doctorate in Education, looking at the role of e-learning in postgraduate dental education and devotes the majority of his time to SmileTube.tv.


What students say about our courses
Dr. Andrew Dixon
GDP, working in Whickham Dental Practicw, Newcastle

Got the written confirmation from the exams department (RCS Edinburgh) this week so nice to have a hard copy of the results in my hand!! Many thanks for your guidance over the last year or so. The UIYC was set at a perfect level with just the right amount of content to get you through the diploma.

Dr. Chameera Fernando
GDP, working in Northampton

The print outs will be really useful as I wanted to go over the lectures again and start making notes and memorising the information.

Dr Lucy Nichols BDS MFDSRCS MSc.
GDP, working in New Malden with a special interest in aesthetic/cosmetic dentistry and implantology

The flexibility of doing the theory on-line has been fantastic. Far more convenient and cost effective than other courses. And it's useful to be able to revisit a lecture. Having patients provided and having a relatively local mentor has also been a big advantage over many other courses.

Dr C. Lappin BSc.(Hons), BDS(Hons), FDS RCS(Eng)
GDP, practicing in Belfast

Amazing! This is a very useful resource.

Dr. Andrew Dixon

I really enjoyed being able to complete the course at my own pace but with you in the background giving the occasional nudge so you dont loose focus. Obviously this also makes it very cost effective as there was much less time off work than on other courses. The supply of papers / reading material although daunting at first was excellent and actually essential for the diploma.

Dr R.D BDS Manc
General Dental Practitioner working in Manchester and did the Ultimate Implant Year Course in 2013

The UIYC is a very informative course especially for me who had a limited exposure to implant dentistry. It has certainly improved my knowledge in this domain with its very well structured online theoretical modules coupled with the improvement of my surgical skills via the monthly hands-on practical sessions. I managed to place a number of implants in the space of ten months. The good aspects of this course are that it provides you with patients to work with and it fits around your work schedule. Wished I found this course a few years earlier!

Dr Clair Kilgarriff, B Dent Sc, TCD
GDP practicing in Dublin with a special interest in orthodontics and implant dentistry

Ken Nicholson was my tutor for the certificate year in implant dentistry from the University of Warwick. He was one of the best lecturers I have had in my under and postgraduate training. He is methodical and clear in his delivery. Above all he is open to the viewpoints of others and most helpful in directing a student to further knowledge.

David Magilton BDS
GDP working in Lanarkshire and a current Ultimate Implant Year Course delegate

I thought that the intro to the UIYC was brilliant. We were given the perfect amount of information on this fascinating subject and this has given me a great insight into implant dentistry. It has also made me very keen to learn more and place my first implant. The smiletube site is an amazing resource and I appreciate the hard work you must have put into it.

Dr. Paul Howlett

The Ultimate Year Implant Course has been an excellent programme of education and learning. The flexibility of being able to work through the detailed online learning material at your own pace and when it best suits make it the perfect course to schedule around busy work and family life. In addition the experience gained through the clinical days has been 1st class with superb mentorship and clinical coaching. I would have no hesitation in recommending this course to anyone wishing to introduce dental implants into their clinical practice.

Dr Ramya Balasubramanian
General Dentist working in San Diego

Amazing program!.