A new beginning for dental implants

A new beginning for dental implants

There are problems in the world of dental implant education in Australia.  Consumers struggle to determine the level of experience and education of dentists who are providing implants for their patients.  For example I know of a five day course run in Florida, after five days of education they declare the successful students are a “master of dental implants”.  Five days, that’s it!!!!!  I doubt anyone who pays the tuition fee would fail. Ridiculous.  An unscrupulous dentist could imply that they were a specialist because they have a “masters”.

In Australia a masters degree in dentistry is a minimum of three years full time, with extremely tough exams at the end to achieve the level of a dental specialist.  I know because I did it 23 years ago and it was hard work, rewarding and challenging.

How can you the consumer tell the difference between someone who has done a five day course in Florida or three years of intensive training?  One way is to look at your dentists ‘post nominals’, that is the letters after their name on their printed documents.  MDS or MDSc is what we give in Australia.  Also check if they have a FRACDS or MRACDS after their name, they are qualifications earned from the australasian college of dental surgeons which require considerable study and assessment and reflect a dentist who has gone that extra yard to have a broad education.  Also if the have either FICD, FPFA or FADI is an indication their dental piers have recognised them as significant contributors to their profession, education or research.

There are a lot of programs available to teach dentists about implants.  Many are provided by the companies who make and sell the implants.  That is not appropriate (to me).  Independent, high quality rigorous training programs are scarce.  Thankfully efforts are underway to correct this situation.

This week I had the privilege to be one of the educators for the latest program to educate dentists in implant dentistry.  A new collaboration between the Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons and the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, is to provide a Diploma level education for general dentists to attain a solid educational foundation to begin their career in implant dentistry.  I was privileged to be one of the five lecturers to develop and deliver the orientation days to get the students off to a flying start.  I was very impressed with the calibre of the students and encouraged that this will be a significant step forward for the decades to come.

Okay, you have suffered through a lot of text so far, well done.  I bet you are thinking what is the bottom line for you the consumer?  Lets consider the level of difficulty of qualifications in this arena and maybe how to choose your implant dentist:

  • A dental board registered specialist has done the hard yards, whether an oral surgeon, periodontist or prosthodontist you can be assured they have done at least three (hard) years of training after they became a dentist.  Remember that typically dozens of dentists (who are at the top of their game) apply to be accepted to a specialist degree course, however only three or four will be selected.  On the other hand fee based courses accept anyone who will pay their fee.  The bottom line is if a dentist has a MDS or MDSc after their name on their card will have a specialist level of training.  Ask the staff at your dentist if you are not sure how long their implant training was and how experienced he or she is.
  • Do they have a diploma in implant dentistry?  That means they are general dentists that have done extra training, normally part time over two years, with some degree of supervision and assessment.  They have had both academic training and real world experience in implant dentistry.  It is often enough training for less complex implant treatment.
  • Seek out experienced clinicians who are recommended by medical or dental professionals, friends or your family.  Just because someone has a really big add in the yellow pages, on radio or on the side of a bus does not make them talented 🙂  When looking for a surgeon don’t accept the cheapest quote, go for the person that has a reputation for being talented, gentle and kind.
  • Finally I think everyone should should get a second opinion.  Do you trust them? Do you think they are experienced or not, are you comfortable to be treated by them?  Trust your gut instinct!!!  don’t rush this decision, it is an important one.

Ciao for now.