While it’s difficult to find exact figures, it is widely acknowledged that the number of dental implants placed in the UK is rising year on year. This is driven by increased demand among patients, as well as the development of techniques, materials and technologies that make treatment more streamlined, predictable and more effective for more people. To respond to this increasing demand, more and more dentists are wanting to undergo appropriate training in implant dentistry in order to incorporate it in their practices with safety and confidence. As with other fields of dentistry, a vast majority of implantology is being provided in general practices globally by well-trained GDPs.
As such, the standards upheld by the profession in this field have remained high worldwide. The emphasis on quality education and training is a crucial part of the high success of this treatment modality, ensuring clinicians acquire the skills and experience they need to comply with best practices and evidence-based protocols in the field.
Basic principles of ‘best practice’
In order to provide quality implant therapy, the professional team require several clinical and non-clinical skills, as well as up-to-date knowledge of all relevant materials and concepts. In clinical terms, they need to understand the surgical and restorative phases of treatment, even if they do not manage both stages themselves. In addition, the team need to be aware of the science and research supporting the various products, biomaterials and equipment being used to ensure they select the most appropriate solutions for each patient.
Teaching should be free of commercial bias. Generic training using multiple implant systems rather than receiving education influenced by the commercial interests of a single implant company is essential in treating the diverse needs of patients who present with different anatomical, functional, aesthetic and hygienic requirements. Thorough case assessment and treatment planning are also crucial in achieving long lasting results in accordance with individual patients’ needs and wishes.
There are just as many non-clinical aspects involved with successful implantology. For example, practitioners need good communication skills to be able to explain and discuss all implant treatment options with patients and encourage their understanding for proper consent. The decision to have implant treatment is a significant one for patients, so it’s vital that they have all the information they need to make an autonomous informed decision.
A combination of evidence based metholodology, good clinical skills and experience, use of proven products and clear patient education and communication are required for the treatment to be truly successful. All these elements help to deliver the highest quality service with the best outcomes, while managing and meeting patient expectations. Ultimately, this will help to avoid unhappy patients with potential legal complications for the practitioner, as there will be no surprises for the patient from start to finish.
Importance of accredited quality training by a respected provider
The type and quality of training sought should be considered carefully. Ideally, the training should be delivered by a qualified education provider with proven clinical and teaching experience. The course should be quality assured to provide an accredited award at an appropriate postgraduate level. Initially, a broad range of relevant topics should be covered in order to provide a comprehensive foundation of knowledge on which to build ultimate clinical skills with on-going mentoring. The programme should be held over a long enough period to allow for further reading and reflection – both theoretical and practical elements should also be included.
As clinicians develop their skills and gain experience in dental implants under supervision, additional training and qualifications can be sought to advance capabilities to a higher level and move into more complex treatment areas. There are many postgraduate Masters courses now available in the UK – choosing one should depend on the reputation of the education provider, the experience of the lecturers, the quality of the products used and the availability of on-going mentorship and support. Another method to assess the standard, structure and suitability of a course is to refer to the FGDP(UK)’s Training Standards in Implant Dentistry (TSID) 2016.
Implant treatment guidelines from FGDP(UK) coming soon
Given the pace with which the dental implantology is being adopted by an increasing number of practitioners in general practice, the FGDP(UK) has since sought to produce “best practice” national standards in implant dentistry. I was delighted to accept an invitation to lead the development of the new document, having been involved in the creation of various similar guidelines in the UK and Europe.
The fundamental principles of the new guidelines cover all the subdomains of professionalism; patient information, safety and consent; application of knowledge and skills; human factors; auditing; teamwork and management; and governance. These are just guidelines that reflect the latest available evidence base in the field and will evolve as new research comes to light in the years to come.
For anyone looking to establish a firm foundation in the field, the PG Cert in Implant Dentistry delivered through Ucer Education could be for you. The Level 7 course – accredited by EduQual – provides both theoretical and practical learning opportunities with 12 modules spread throughout a year. We have an experienced internationally renowned teaching faculty who will teach implants generically without the commercial bias of a single implant company. We reference some of the best implant systems available and will provide all the on-going support and mentorship needed to build your skills and confidence. Course content covers everything from core surgical and restorative techniques to the full digital workflow, patient assessment and treatment planning, as well as basic and advanced hard and soft tissue management.
After completing this PG Cert in Implant Dentistry, clinicians can develop their clinical portfolio to sit the Diploma in Implant Dentistry examination of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh under the guidance of Ucer Education. It therefore begins a step-by-step learning pathway for all practitioners passionate about following evidence-based and best practice guidelines in dental implantology.