Debbie Snelson, Group Manager of Dentale, reveals how implantology continues to emerge as one of the fastest-growing disciplines in dentistry, and outlines why – for the next generation of dental nurses – it’s crucial to combine theoretical knowledge gained in the classroom with hands-on, practical experience.
“While the art of implant dentistry perhaps still isn’t as common across the UK as it is throughout mainland Europe – compare the circa 100,000 implants placed here each year to the 700,000 in Italy alone – it’s indisputable that its popularity has significantly increased over the past few years.
Treatment is fast becoming more affordable for patients, in part due to clinics such as ourselves, which are able to offer more cost-effective care on the understanding that it is delivered in a fully-supervised training environment, by dentists and nurses that are developing their skills. And as implants become an increasingly accessible and attractive option to patients, more and more dental practices are seeing the professional – not to mention the commercial – benefit of providing the treatment as part of a wider portfolio of services.
Of course, offering these additional treatments requires dentists and their support staff to undertake the necessary qualifications and training to acquire the expertise they need to compete against other practices. Indeed, over the past year, we’ve seen the number of dentists successfully attending our Introduction to Implant Dentistry and Advanced Practical Implantology courses more than treble, with significant take-up in our new dedicated courses for dental nurses too.
Implant dentistry has its own particular techniques, terminologies, and instruments. As with learning any new discipline, it’s absolutely essential to combine getting a solid grasp of the theoretical aspects with a more ‘hands-on’ element of training. The Introduction to Implants for Dental Nurses and Advanced Implant Dentistry for Nurses courses we have developed aim to strike this balance between classroom-based and surgical learning.
So whilst the basics behind the role of a dental implant nurse, such as the terminology used and the equipment involved, are covered in classroom discussions, the remaining aspects of the course are taught in a more interactive way. Pre-treatment asepsis techniques and surgery set-up are demonstrated in a live surgery, while delegates also get the opportunity to watch a live placement of an implant. The more advanced course also offers the chance to view intricate procedures such as bone grafts and sinus lifts take place.
Another point we emphasise to dentists is the benefits they can get from having their team of dental nurses join them on their own implant training courses. Whilst it is essential the dentist develops the necessary skills and techniques, it’s just as important their support staff also acquires the confidence and capabilities required to assist them long-term. After all, a well-drilled team leads to quicker turnaround times, smoother procedures, and the capacity to deal with an increased number of patients. Dentists on our Advanced Practical Implantology course place a minimum of 15 – and in some cases up to 25 or 30 – implants, a hands-on grounding that will give them the poise and preparation required to perform the treatments at their own practice.
Having their own dental nurses on-site assisting them while they gain this practical knowledge is invaluable, as it helps to reinforce the theoretical know-how gained in their studies with the first-hand experience obtained through observing the intricacies of live surgery.”
A version of this article was first published in the October 2011 edition of Dental Nursing magazine, a monthly journal dedicated to addressing the clinical and professional issues relevant to dental nurses.