Implantology is that branch of dentistry whereby mechanical metal replacements of roots are placed in the jaw bone to assist with the retention of replacement teeth.
The history of dental implants began with Mayan civilisations who used shell pieces as crude dental implants embedded into the sockets of missing teeth. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that independent maverick practitioners experimenting with various materials developed more modern techniques.
A Swedish Researcher in Orthopaedics carried out experiments studying the healing of wounds in the leg bones of rabbits. A titanium optical chamber that had glass windows either end allowed him to observe the healing process. He noticed that after a time he had great difficulty removing his expensive titanium chambers due to the rabbits bone healing tightly around the metal. This observation was revealed to the School of Dentistry in Gothenburg and eventually led to the replacement of chrome cobalt alloys & stainless steel implants with titanium now in use today. The researcher, Professor Brånemark, oversaw my first implant in a patient at the University of Washington School of Dentistry in 1981.
There have been over 7 million of Brånemark implants placed via close collaboration of Specialists in Prosthodontics, Oral Surgery and Periodontics. Nowadays the procedures have become more simplified giving the opportunity for General Dental Practitioners with a special interest in this treatment modality to attend Postgraduate training programmes. There are now recommendations for training established by the General Dental Council before providing this treatment. This requires continued mentoring of the General Practitioners provided by established Specialists in Prosthodontics Oral Surgery and Periodontics.
However there are a number of contraindications to dental implants that may only be realised by the trained specialist. The public need to be aware that the title of a dental surgery which include references to “Implant Treatments”, “Implant Clinics”, “Implant Centres” or Advanced Restorative Dentistry may imply Specialist services that may not have full Specialist Accreditation.
Implantology requires a team of experts, rather than any single individual clinician. Implantology requires the combination of skills shown.
No one person in the world can tick every box to become an implantologist. As a consequence the title ‘Implantologist’ is totally inappropriate and misleading.
The General Dental Council assists the public in distinguishing between those General Practitioners with a ‘special interest‘ from the fully accredited Specialists. Visit the GDC and type your local area into the “Town” field to find all registered specialists near you (UK only).
In Bath, clinicians with combined specialities working closely with a team include the following:
Mark Vardon-OdonkorDept Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Royal United Hospital, Combe Park, Bath, BA1 3NG
Specialities: Oral Surgery, Prosthodontics
Toby TalbotThe Talbot Clinic, Tasburgh House, Warminster Road, Bath, BA2 6SH
Specialities: Restorative Dentistry, Periodontics, Endodontics & Prosthodontics
I am often referred patients from general dental practitioners specifically for implants or patients may even refer themselves for implants when, after a proper assessment, indicates an alternative and more appropriate treatment.
It has to be remembered that the prescription of implants will be only one of several options for any patient who has lost teeth. The dedicated Dental Centre/Clinic led by a general dental practitioner may limit the wider considerations of treatment alternatives. This would be the equivalent of a patient referring themselves to a dedicated hernia clinic, only to find out that the “lump” isn’t a hernia and yet, still only being offered the hernia operation.