To become good at something is expensive. It is always expensive.
It may not be expensive in monetary terms but it will certainly be expensive in time, emotion and commitment.
To become good in implant dentistry takes a investment in all of the above – financial, emotional, chronological and committal.
From my own experience when I first qualified in 1994 from the University of Glasgow I spent the first five years of my career honing my surgical skills and learning my trade in hospital environments and further to this, in a dental VT environment where I also worked as a clinical assistant in oral surgery.
By the time I exited the first five years my friends had made £100,000’s more than me in dentistry and I had worked at least twice as many hours as they had. I had funded and sat examinations at The Royal College of Surgeons and associated course for those examinations. In short I had given up a considerable part of my life that my friends in dentistry had not as they bought cars, houses and holidays out of income that I could scarcely believe.
What that period did for me though was to catapult me into a position of enhanced surgical skills and understanding of patient assessment and treatment. I was able to build on this foundation in implant dentistry to put myself in the position that I find myself in today. This is a familiar story throughout implant dentistry when I discuss the training pathways and the investments made by people who place many dental implants and educate on the subject throughout the country. It’s difficult to put a price on this but certainly, in monetary terms; it cost me £100,000s over that five-year period. But it was well worth it.
The benefits of becoming skilled in implant dentistry are obvious for all. Financially it is extremely rewarding as it is sought after skill, which is still very much understaffed in the UK. It is a developing market where the opportunities will only increase not decrease going forwards but the benefits personally in terms of fulfillment, interest and excitement, together with the ability to build a team and an environment for implant dentistry are huge and should not be underestimated.
Sure you can secure your family’s financial future with a very lucrative career providing exceptional treatment for people with implants but it goes much further than that into re-designing your life away from treating hundreds of patients a week to treating fewer patients but with higher quality work. The real cost in education and implant dentistry is a commitment to a five-year training platform to get to more than fifty implants per year, a level of competency which allows you to build on a platform into the future to become more skilled and experienced at placing dental implants and become sought after as a practitioner of that discipline.
What you’re paying for is the intellectual property and knowledge of people who already know how to do it, the advice on how to treat patients on an individual basis and how to reflect on and learn from your mistakes. Choosing a course where the speakers are experienced and who have a philosophy of talking about the good things and the bad things are essential. Learning from mistakes is a fundamental element to becoming a better practitioner.
Some courses are cheap and advertise a short cut to implant proficiency but these should be viewed with some suspicion, as there is no shortcut to hundreds and thousands of hours of practice.
Many people ask the question “Can I afford to train in implant dentistry?”
If you love oral surgery and are interested in restorative dentistry and look to have a prolonged future in dentistry then perhaps the question is “Can you afford not to?”
With the changes in dentistry coming down the track fast, including reduced funding to the NHS and the explosion of digital dentistry and associated topics and private care, all of us should consider our situation and our position as we move forward.