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Dentistry: an education

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  Posted by: The Probe      15th March 2020

“The learning process continues until the day you die.” That’s what Kirk Douglas, American actor, producer, director and author from the Golden Age of cinema once said. While he might not have been talking about dentistry, it is a sentiment that many would surely agree with when working within the profession.

Indeed, such is the rate of change within dentistry in regard to technology, equipment, technique and research that without on-going education, practitioners run the risk of falling behind. In modern dentistry – where competition is fierce and patient expectations are high – this is simply not an option and as such, dentists must do all they can to ensure they’re providing the most relevant care.

It’s not just about keeping up-to-date with the latest in dentistry though – it’s about building on one’s own skills and knowledge base to become both a better practitioner and service provider. Indeed, the better equipped and experienced the professional, the better the service for the patient. That means enhanced results where treatment is required and improved preventive care. What is more, excellence in dentistry cannot be achieved without constant development, so for any dentist hoping to progress in their career or become an industry leader, it is necessary to ensure continuous learning.

The same rule applies to those looking to specialise too. In order to be granted specialist status by the GDC in one of the 13 fields, practitioners are required to undergo a training programme that lasts between three to five years, depending on the speciality being studied. It might seem like a long time, but at the end of it, practitioners are given an expert status – and there are a number of benefits that come with that including better pay, respect and a broad range of career opportunities. Not to mention that further education ensures specialist treatments are delivered expertly and safely, thus minimising the risk of litigation and treatment failure.

Of course, it’s important to note that it’s not just specialist treatments where problems can occur. Within dentistry there is always a risk of something going wrong during surgery or a complication occurring post-treatment – and not necessarily because of the dentist either. You could be the best clinician in the world, but if the patient ignores all advice and persists with poor oral health or habits such as smoking, a problem-free outcome cannot be guaranteed.

It doesn’t help that patients are now more likely to sue than ever before and that treatment expectations are much higher than they were ten years ago.[i] It’s likely why the risk of dental litigation has doubled over the last decade and why dentists are now expected to receive two claims over the course of their career.[ii] Just another reason why education is so important and why Continuing Professional Development is a legal requirement from the GDC. While a practitioner will never be able to completely eradicate the risk of something going wrong, they can ensure that the likelihood of a problem occurring is reduced to the lowest possible level by undertaking the relevant training.

The other way to do this is to find and utilise quality products with a proven track record for reliability and consistency – a task that gets easier with experience. Hands-on training courses that allow practitioners to experiment with certain tools and brands can be particularly helpful, though there’s also a lot to be said for utilising research to help choose products for specific treatments or areas of dentistry. When carrying out restorations, for instance, research shows that dentine pins offer increased retention compared to when bonding agents are used alone – especially when significant coronal structure is missing.[iii],[iv]

Stabilok Dentine Pins from Fairfax Dental have been going strong now for 45 years. The pins are engineered as self-threading and self-shearing. They fit into contra-angle slow-speed handpieces and are sheared off automatically at 2mm depth within the pre-drilled holes. This minimises the risk of fractures in the dentine. The Stabilok kit includes a matching twist drill that ensures carefully controlled preparation of the dentine for maximum accuracy and stability of the resulting restoration. It provides an accessible, affordable and simple solution for dentists who wish to enhance their restorative outcomes.

Ultimately, it is a combination of factors that minimise potential risks associated with dental treatment. Learning remains crucial for all dental professionals, regardless of their previous experience or fields of interest. To offer the high standard of care expected by most patients today and be the best dentist possible, be sure to embrace education and all that entails.

 

For more information, please call 0208 947 6464

 

[i] Dental Protection. ‘Public believe marketing campaigns by ‘No Win No Fee’ firms are on the up’. Published 16 April 2018. Accessed online 4 December 2019 at https://www.dentalprotection.org/uk/articles/public-believe-marketing-campaigns-by-no-win-no-fee-firms-are-on-the-up

[ii] Dental Protection. ‘Legal reform to tackle rising cost of clinical negligence is long overdue’. Published 23 June 2017. Accessed online 4 December 2019 at https://www.dentalprotection.org/uk/about/media-centre/press-releases-display/2017/06/22/dental-protection-legal-reform-to-tackle-rising-cost-of-clinical-negligence-is-long-overdue

[iii] ­Widjiastuti I. Pin-retain for restoration of widely tooth damaged. Dental Journal: Majalah Kedokteran Gigi. 2007. 40. 10.20473/j.djmkg.v40.i2.p98-100.

[iv] ImberyT, Burgess J, Batzer R. Comparing the resistance of dentin bonding agents and pins in amalgam restorations. JADA. 1995; 126(6):753-9.


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