PROFESSOR CEMAL UCER, Oral Surgeon and course leader of the Postgraduate Certificate in Implant Dentistry, describes the importance of having an experienced implant dentistry mentor when starting out in implant dentistry…
When you consider that the vast majority of people who attend an implant course in the UK do not go on to routinely place implants in their practice within two years, examining the importance of mentorship, or more crucially, the lack of it, it soon becomes clear that this one of the main contributing factors.
Having played a role in helping to develop the FGDP/GDC “Training Standards in Implant Dentistry” and trained over hundreds of dentists in this discipline over the past 25 years, it’s vital that those starting out understand the need to acquire the clinical skills and knowledge by completing postgraduate training under supervision of an experienced clinician acting as a mentor.
Without ongoing support and only a small amount of experience, clinicians can quickly lose confidence and fail to go on to have a successful career with implants. The key distinction with courses that have the highest success in creating enduring careers in implant dentistry is in their ability to provide skilled mentors that can coach and support delegates through every aspect of the procedure, from assessment and treatment planning, through to the surgical and restorative stages. Our multi-system course has been designed to provide an evidence-based, all-round scientific, academic and clinical training whilst removing the inevitable commercial bias and pressures that is often associated with courses supported by a single manufacturer.
Moral support makes all the difference
When it comes to implants, self-teaching is not an option. To achieve your full potential, working under supervision of a mentor can make a significant impact on the successful integration of dental implant provision in practice. Remember, they have been in your shoes and understand the problems faced in the early stages. Skills that might otherwise take years to learn can all be learned at a steady, efficient pace, from a trusted confidant and in an environment of confidence and security. Working with a trusted and experienced mentor does certainly ensure safer and more predictable treatment outcomes and certainly help to reduce the risk of problems occurring during the process of skills development.
The relationship with a mentor must be strong, and it’s important that the mentee is matched with one whom they can trust and confide in. In the majority of cases, a mentor will go on to be a life-long friend to help support them through all the ups and downs of their journey with implants.
“When it comes to implants, self-teaching is not an option”
Placing your first implant
Attending a well-recognised postgraduate course combined with the support of an exceptional mentor, using not just one but different implant systems to suit the different anatomical, functional and aesthetic needs of individual patients, can help when placing those all-important first few cases. Instead of worrying about how to identify cases within your clinical remit and struggling to find suitable patients, turning to the professionals who combine outstanding teaching and clinical skills to support you in analysing the complexity of cases and in selecting patients can be a real confidence boost and help give you one less thing to be concerned about.
Along with opening up access to patients for the first few implant cases, in-practice support from a mentor to help you undertake these is what can differentiate one course from another. In providing this, delegates can be successfully guided to break through the confidence barrier and thus set them on a pathway to success and a prosperous career in implant dentistry.
Building a network and referral base
When it comes to transitioning from a general practitioner into a fully-fledged implant clinician, one of the best routes to success is to be given the chance to get a foot on the ladder by having a referral base to work from the start. Without this kind of access an aspiring implant dentistry career can be blocked before it has even begun.
As a course lecturer, I always make it my responsibility to help provide delegates with the opportunity to start building up a network and the best way to do this is through their mentor. They are able to expand the delegate’s networking opportunities through introductions to their colleagues and contacts and can truly be invaluable when it becomes necessary to refer more complex cases. This all raises the confidence to develop the necessary skills and knowledge at the delegate’s own pace.
It has also become increasingly important for delegates to be exposed to the most well-documented and proven implant systems during their learning. Success in implant placement and restoration rests heavily upon experience and clinicians must rely on the experience of the tutors and mentors when carrying out their first few cases. The broad advice that can be obtained from them on a multi-system course is one of its key advantages over a course, which may be limited to one system or those that are biased by commercial interests of a particular manufacturer.
Attending a multi-system implant course and working alongside a mentor who will have many years’ experience working across a range of systems, can enable delegates to gain an understanding of the function and properties of each platform and thus make an informed, evidence-based decision in day-to-day practice.
Implant course requirements
Aspiring implant dentists must look for a course that will enable them to be up-to-date with the latest theory and have a chance to develop practical clinical skills in placing and restoring implants under the supervision of a mentor. Delegates must be introduced to groundbreaking new techniques such as simplified bone grafting and building techniques, and state-of-the-art digital dentistry equipment and workflow.
One of my main goals has always been to help to increase the number of clinicians making a successful long-term career in implant dentistry and is very important for me to continue supporting delegates long after their course to success. It is hugely rewarding for me to know that our courses have helped to train a vast number of dentists in the UK over the last two decades and these colleagues are fully prepared and equipped for a lifelong career in this exciting discipline, not only providing implant treatment at their practices but also teaching and mentoring in their own right.
Tobias Richter, CEO & Founder from TRI Dental Implants, one of the course’s sponsors, said: “Working with a mentor to provide clinicians with a systematic and logical exposure to implant dentistry ensures the effective incorporation of implants into daily practice. The Postgraduate Certificate in Implant Dentistry course provides some of the top mentors currently working in the UK. We’re delighted to be supporting a course that is contributing to making sure clinicians are placing implants for longer than two years and are fully prepared and equipped for a lifelong career in this exciting discipline.”
To start your career in implant dentistry, book your place onto Ucer Education’s next PGCert in Implant Dentistry, starting on 21 November 2018 at the ICE Postgraduate Dental Institute and Hospital, Manchester. Book by calling 0161 237 1842 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.