Michael Badger, DDS, FAGD, DICOI
I don't need to say much about the impact dental implants have made on restorative dentistry. As I'm sure you know, dental implants provide a level of success in terms of longevity, appearance, and completion time that more traditional methods cannot match. Because of these advantages and other factors such as technological advancements, an aging population, increased interest in cosmetic dentistry, and an increase in patient knowledge, the implant market has experienced significant growth. Three million people currently have dental implants, with that number growing by 500,000 each year, according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID).
I'm also sure that many of you are now involved with dental implants in your office, whether crown or bridge restoration, abutment placement, or surgically placing implants. However, the number of dentists who actually surgically place implants is still low (around 10% according to the AAID).
While this number is increasing each year as placing implants becomes more common, many dentists refer these cases to specialists. For more complicated cases, that may be what is best for the patient. But for everyday cases, general dentists can become adept in placing implants with the necessary training.
One reason I believe many general practitioners do not place implants is their fear that training will be too time-consuming or expensive. But many general practitioners have proven that this knowledge and skill is quite attainable in a reasonable amount of time. For seasoned professionals, you won't have to start from scratch; you've been to dental school and you have the base knowledge. Dental implant placement, like any other skill (e.g., sleep apnea treatment, veneers, aligner therapy) is just an expansion from this base.
When identifying the right training for you, look for a course that is specifically designed for your skill level and needs. Once you have the training, start with simpler cases and build from there.
Implant placement training is fairly comparative to other CE prices, but no matter what the cost, it is a sound investment. Today's patients are smarter, well informed, and because of increased technology, they have more options for dental care at their fingertips than ever before. They are more health-conscious and expect more from their care. With proven advantages over other restorative options, dental implants are now on their radar.
Being able to handle all aspects of implants will serve you well in meeting their needs. If you cannot handle all their needs in one location at one time, patients can easily search online for another clinician who can.
As dental implant technology advances and patient need increases, more dentists are recognizing the need to become well versed in all aspects of dental implants. More dental schools are establishing advanced implant curriculum as well. To prevent yourself and your practice from falling behind, take the necessary steps today to keep up with this expanding movement.
Michael Badger, DDS, FAGD, DICOI, is a Heartland Dental-supported dentist who practices at DellagioDentist.com in Orlando, Florida. He earned his dental degree from Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry. Dr. Badger is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry and holds Diplomatic status with the International Congress of Oral Implantologists.