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The rationale for the introduction of implant dentistry into the dental curriculum

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

This paper provides arguments for the introduction of implant dentistry into the undergraduate curriculum. The survival of teeth is very high when disease is diagnosed and treated properly and maintenance is taken care of. Nevertheless, tooth replacements by fixed and removable prostheses are highly prevalent. It is expected that dentists will face a dramatically increased need to care for elderly patients and partially edentulous patients. Hence, the demand for implant reconstructions will be substantial and more appropriately trained and competent health professionals will be needed. Increasing demands of the patient regarding aesthetics and function will influence the demands for implant therapy. The improvement of oral function and subjective chewing comfort, the preservation of tooth structures or existing reconstructions and the replacement of missing, strategically important teeth are major indications for implant placement. From both a biological and an economical point of view, the single tooth replacement with an implant is the first choice in situations with no or minimally restored neighbouring teeth compared with conventional bridgework. Stability of full dentures represent a major problem especially for the mandible. It is well documented that placement of two implants supporting an overdenture substantially improve chewing capacity, increase quality of life and is a simple and cost-effective treatment thus rendering such treatment a 'standard of care' procedure. There is no doubt that dental students should learn to incorporate the indication of oral implants in their overall treatment planning. Therefore, they will have to understand the basic aspects of healing and tissue integration, basic biomechanical and material science principles as well as surgical and prosthetic techniques. They will have to be able to monitor continuously the peri-implant tissues, render appropriate supportive therapy and cope with biological and technical complications. While it is evident that the surgical procedure per se may require additional competence, the remainder of the aspects mentioned should be taught in the dental curriculum. This should include the attribution of responsibility for maintenance of implants and handling of biological and technical complications. Moreover, it is desirable to include the surgical technique for implant placement for 'straightforward' cases into the dental curriculum. The levels and limitations to which the various aspects of implant dentistry and related skills are to be taught are determined by the academic community. Obviously, ethical and legal aspects of implant dentistry should not be forgotten.
ISSN: 1396-5883
Issue: Suppl. 1
Volume: 13
Pages: 18 - 23
Publication year:2009