It’s not like me to be so boring with a blog title but I could not think of a clever way to ask this important question. You as the consumer need to make a really important decision when choosing whom you (may) choose to provide you with dental implants.
So, do you choose the person who has the most and biggest adds in the local media? Does the biggest advertising budget equate to talent, training and experience? I am sure you have worked out that was a loaded question. In my 30 plus years in this business I have seen that those who really push out the adds in all forms of media do so because that is the only way they can fill their appointment books, people don’t gravitate to their business because of the dentists reputation and the recommendations of your family and friends. I think you have caught my drift as it were, listen to those you trust and respect and don’t be swayed by glossy adds which promise thing that may not be delivered.
Qualifications: That should be easy for you to user stand right? Wrong. I and many of my colleagues are disappointed that the old system that regulated post nominals (letters health care providers put after their name on business cards and stuff like that) has been abandoned by the regulators. I have to search on Google to try and find out what many qualifications claimed by dentists actually are (because I have never heard of them) and to say I am disappointed with what I find is an understatement. A case in point, I know of a dentist who claims to have a “Masters” qualification in dental implants. An interesting claim since their are no Masters degrees offered in Australia in dental implants. My Masters degree in Prosthdontics was three years full time at the University of Western Australia, it was extremely demanding however extremely rewarding. The gentleman who claims to have the implant Masters spend five days (yes, five days) in Florida. If you just read the adds and were not a dentist you would never know the difference! That is very scary to me and I don’t like that our current regulatory environment allows this.
I know, you think I am a gas bag, get to the point! I will. There are some qualifications you can not fudge, you have to have the runs on the board to receive them. The International Congress of Oral Implants (ICOI) has qualifications they bestow on dentist who have successfully met their requirements. If you want to read what they are go to http://icoi.org/membership-credentials.php. They have three levels or qualification: Fellowship, then Master and the highest level is Diplomate. If your not sure where your dentist stands go to the ICOI website and check who has what standing in your region. When I last checked there were less than 20 dentists in Australia with Diplomate status and I am proud to be one of them.
Another thing that you could look at as “the leading implant centres in the world”. This body was established by a group of senior implant dentists around the world who were frustrated by the claims of seniority by dentists they believed did not have the runs on the board. To be one of their recognised implant centres you have to show to them your years of experience and qualifications that meet their criteria. From my experience their entrance criteria is the tightest in the world. My practice has the rare privilege to be the only practice in regional NSW to be registered with them. This is written in May 2015, who knows what will happen in the future. I believe the more the better because it is good for you, the potential consumers of dental implants.
Ultimately I think one of the best tests for any health care practitioner is the assessment of your friends and family. Ask around those people you respect regarding their suggestions for who you should see and why. Has that person been in one region for 10 or more years and stood by his or her work? You know what I am saying, it is not unique to dentists, it is like finding a plumber, builder or whatever. Take your time because this decision is probably one of the most important you may make.
I will share a guilty pleasure to finish this blog: I am the only practitioner on the North Coast of NSW who is a Diplomate of the OCOI and a recognised leading dental implant centre plus the only dentist who is regularly lectures to dentists in all states of Australia (and occasionally internationally) on issues related to dental implants. You can read a really big add in the paper or on the side of a bus but the reality for me is there are less than 20 dentists out of 15,000 who can claim to have achieved what I am proud to have achieved.