Along with Invisalign™ and Zoom™ whitening, implants and especially the All-On-4™ concept are some of the most publicised dental procedures in Australia. Turn on talkback radio in capital cities like Sydney and you will hear ads for All-On-4 constantly. A handful of entrepreneurial dentists have zeroed in on the needs of the ageing edentulous population who want the certainty of a fixed prosthesis but are unwilling or unable to afford complex restorative dentistry.
"Dentists are targeting patients who are unhappy with their dentures with advertising for implant-retained solutions because, quite simply, that advertising works," explains Dr David Dunn, who practices in Sydney's Macquarie Street and who lectures for Nobel Biocare globally on implant procedures like the All-On-4. "Many patients who proceed with All-On-4 as a treatment solution are being lured away from a practice where they have built a relationship with their dentist - and this could happen to you!
"Because they have not been offered an implant-retained solution by their dentist, they respond when they hear advertising on radio and elsewhere that offers an immediate solution to their problem. Rarely will they ask their existing dentist if they offer similar treatment. The result is that their previous dentist loses a patient and often for good."
Dr Dunn said that many practitioners have chosen not to be involved in the surgical aspects of implant therapy, or indeed implant treatment at all and either refer cases out, or alternatively, restrict their treatment to crown and bridge and denture solutions, thus avoiding implant therapy in their practice altogether.
"Today, especially with our ageing population, all general practices have a significant population of patients who could benefit from implant treatment," Dr Dunn said. "This is especially so for more advanced full arch cases such as existing edentulous patients or patients with a deteriorating/failing dentition. There will also be a growing group of patients who require full mouth rehabilitation but due to financial or other reasons, are unsuitable candidates for more extensive conventional
"Many general practitioners are struggling to keep patients in their practice and naturally are reluctant to refer treatment out. They fear losing the continuity of care they have developed with their patient. If the practitioner does not offer implant-retained solutions, however, then in some cases, they are not offering optimal treatment solutions for certain indications."
According to Dr Dunn, by not offering implant therapy in your practice, the results can be profoundly negative and include:
- Your patients not receiving optimal care that can maintain and/or improve their quality of life;
- The patient may be lost to your practice as they seek implant treatment elsewhere;
- The patient may be attracted by one of the numerous corporate, "All-on-4" practices with media advertising, which currently bombard the airwaves; or
- The patient may be referred to another practitioner who may not return the patient. The patient is then potentially lost from your practice and may indeed take other family members and friends with them.
"Despite what is portrayed by certain implant companies, implant surgery is not learnt over a long weekend," Dr Dunn said. "Replacing a single tooth with an implant can be relatively straightforward today, however, placing implants in the edentulous arch and management of the subsequent prosthetic solution introduces significantly greater complexity (notwithstanding the possible surgical and prosthetic complications that may arise). This is best countered with advanced training, significant clinical experience, the latest technology like 3D imaging and guided surgery and help from both experienced clinicians and dental technicians."
Dr Dunn said that for dentists who do not offer implants at all or who are new to implant dentistry, the solution to retaining patients and maintaining their continuity of care is to partner with a highly experienced implant surgeon and laboratory team.
"With such a partnership, all of the complex assessment, treatment planning and surgical procedures are undertaken in a collegiate, team-based environment," Dr Dunn said. "This allows the patient's own general practitioner dentist to be involved, should they wish, in the treatment in both the initial assessment and placement of the final restorative solution, be it a single implant, an implant bridge or a full-arch implant supported restoration."
Dr Dunn's Macquarie Street Centre now provides a unique partnering opportunity for general practitioners to become involved in all aspects of implant treatment with the appropriate education and support provided for the practitioner and their practice. The Centre already has an international reputation in this field.
All of the necessary training is provided to the referring general practitioner to insert the finished digitally designed and completed case - with full and ongoing support. The patient then remains in the care of the referring general practitioner, who also retains the continuity of care for ongoing maintenance of their patient.
The Macquarie Street Centre is conveniently located in Macquarie Street, Sydney and utilises the latest in digital diagnostic and implant procedural technologies including:
- Most up-to-date, highest-res CBCT 3D imaging in-house;
- 3Shape intraoral scanning (digital impressions);
- Digital Smile Design™ (DSD);
- Implant planning software; Nobel Clinician and 3Shape Implant Studio; Digitally designed and printed surgical guides; Nobel Biocare and 3Shape;
- Platelet Rich Fibrin (PRF) for improved healing outcomes; and
- CAD/CAM technologies in partnership with RWD Dental Image Prosthetic Laboratory.
All major implant brands are utilised and supported, including Nobel Biocare, Straumann and AstraTech.
"We encourage practitioners who want to know more to attend our next training day in Sydney on February 18," Dr Dunn said. "The training day is ideal for clinicians who do not place implants or who are currently involved in single tooth replacement and wish to offer their patients more complex treatments such as All-On-4, 6 or 8 implants."