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 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.