SPONSORED: Mentoring Matters

Published on: 6 May 2022
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Mentoring matters

Jai Prathap Reddy is a partner and principal dentist at Cromwell Place Implant and Laser Dental Practice in Cambridgeshire and is a director and mentor at Dental Routes.  Here, he shares his six tips for any general dental practitioner seeking to partner with a clinical mentor for their implantology education and development.

jaiImplantology is an exciting field of dentistry and the rewards are many.  With demand increasing steadily for replacements for failing or missing teeth, implant therapy has transformed the      options available to restore our patients’ smiles.  As more and more people discover the benefits of being able to eat, talk, laugh and smile with comfort and confidence, it’s no wonder that increasing numbers of dentists are choosing to embark on implant training to broaden the scope of treatments they can offer to their patients.

What is clinical mentoring?

If that sounds like you, you will almost certainly need access to an experienced colleague to help you on this journey.  The main purpose of a clinical mentor is to support your training and education by complementing the theory and taught modules of your chosen course.  Implant treatment requires knowledge of several disciplines and workflows for optimal performance.  Your mentor will be able to help provide practical insights into their application. 

Consequently, mentoring is an important element of dental practitioners’ clinical development.  Guidance for dentists wishing to carry out implant dentistry safely are published by the Faculty of General Dental Practice (FGDP UK) and govern the standards necessary for training and provision of implant dentistry.  The standards are also used by the General Dental Council to review patient complaints where dentists have practised implant dentistry beyond the scope of their competence.  A recent review underlined the need for standardisation of implant placement mentoring.  The FGDP UK is currently working with the Association of Dental Implantology to set out the detailed requirements. 

How do I choose a mentor?

Apart from checking your prospective mentor is appropriately qualified and has broad teaching experience, there are some additional factors which may help to cement the relationship and contribute to your implant success.  Here are my top criteria for mentor selection:

1. Location, location, location

Having a mentor close to hand will enable the relationship to flourish and pave the way for a longer-term partnership.  Your mentor should ideally be within a reasonable distance of your practice.  Dr Petros Mapanda of The Lawns Dental Practice in Spalding recently completed the Dental Routes Certificate in Dental Implantology and is enthusiastic about having nearby support: “I am satisfied that when difficult cases arise, I am supported by a network of mentors who are able to collaborate with me, which leads to a better patient experience.”

2. Tell, show, do

Being guided through placement of your first implant will undoubtedly be one of your education highlights.  But do not underestimate the value of live surgery observation.  Dr Krishna Dass from Smile Suffolk in Ipswich maintains his own implant mentor has been highly influential in his personal development.  According to Krishna, “I have been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to observe him placing many implants and this has broadened my knowledge.”

3. Say goodbye to the one-size-fits-all approach

It can be helpful for implantology students to learn from clinicians with an understanding of the characteristics of more than one implant system, as well as broad experience of treating different clinical indications.  Gaining insights into the key features and benefits of each system will enable you to critically evaluate and select the most suitable platform for each individual case. 

4. Consider how you want your practice to grow

Mentors can often provide invaluable advice on the next steps of the journey from general dentistry towards building a successful implant business.  Before selecting a mentor, find out more about their experience of making this important transition.  They may be well connected and can provide tips and guidance on building sustainable professional referral networks.  They can often share their experience of applying different marketing techniques to help drive enquiries from potential implant patients.  Ensure your own personal development plan can also be supported by the mentor of your choice.

5. Invest in your long-term success

You may find it more valuable to choose a training provider with a flexible approach to long-term mentoring and support, beyond the duration of the taught programme.  This arrangement often results in a win-win partnership, during which you initially gain confidence to carry out simple procedures and ultimately move on to tackle more complex cases.  Advanced training can often be delivered later on by your mentor.  This is usually in smaller groups, designed to maximise participation.

6. Chose a likeminded mentor

It may sound obvious but try to be matched with a mentor who shares your enthusiasm and ambitions.  Dr Ajay Menon from Langley Road Dental Practice in Berkshire is a member of the Dental Routes alumni.  The key for him was access to a team of mentors who offered moral support in a friendly, collaborative environment.  He comments, “What is especially reassuring is that the mentors genuinely want you to succeed and apply all their passion and energy into supporting you.”

Working alongside a mentor can help you to obtain greater proficiency in the field of implantology.  Your understanding and mastery of patient selection and treatment planning, implant surgery and restoration, as well as management of problems, can all be significantly enriched by observing, as well as being guided by, an experienced implantologist.  Mistakes can be eliminated, complaints can be minimised and complications mitigated.  As such, your mentor probably plays one of the most influential roles in your implant journey success!

Bookings are now being taken for the Dental Routes 2023 Certificate in Dental Implantology.  To reserve a place, call or WhatsApp Ruby Kenward on +44 7830 814625 or email hello@dentalroutes.org

Earlybird booking discounts apply

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