From dental nurse to implant nurse, implant TCO and national nurse trainer, I’ve spent the past 14 years dedicating my career to the field of implant dentistry. In that time, I’ve seen the industry change dramatically with growing public demand for immediate, full-arch treatment and an ever-increasing emphasis on the importance of the implant nurse’s role, both in support of the dentist and the patient.
The implant nurses pre-, intra- and post-operative involvement is crucial and cannot be underestimated. As clinical staff members, we are exposed to every stage of treatment, from consultation to post-op care. For those considering expanding their skillset and getting involved in implant nursing and even those that have already taken the plunge, it’s essential to understand how our involvement affects both the clinician and patient along the treatment journey, and how we can best advance our skills in this ever-evolving field of dentistry.
The future of implant dentistry and the modern dental nurse
Edentulism is a global problem. In the UK alone, approximately 6% of the population are edentate (1). This chronic disease is associated with significant morbidity and health issues and fulfils the World Health Organisation’s definition of a physical impairment or disability (2).
Complete dentures only provide patients with a marginal improvement in their quality of life, whereas, with implant-retained restorations, we can significantly improve the physical wellbeing in addition to the quality of life of our patients.
Full-arch implant surgery, including immediate full-arch loading protocol and extra-maxillary approaches, is becoming a popular treatment option. By 2023, the global implant market is expected to reach an estimated $13 billion (3). Dentists’ performing this type of surgery require a well-trained team, including a dental nurse capable of dealing with the challenging aspects of implant treatment.
As implant nurses, we provide support to the patient and the dentist during the consultation phase and are involved in the pre-surgical planning process, surgical, aftercare and restorative stages.
As a key representative of the practice and the patient implant treatment journey, the implant nurse is often one of the first people the patient may speak to and one they feel most comfortable talking to. It’s for this reason that the implant nurse undergoes the correct training to ensure they have the necessary communication skills and knowledge available to address any concerns they may have.
Our pre, intra and post-operative assistance are vital, including setting up and organising equipment for implant procedures, assisting in sedation or PRF procedures, handling used instruments and equipment, patient aftercare, assisting in the restorative phases, and so much more.
The implant nurse maintains and implements the necessary rigorous standard of infection protocol and embraces a four-handed surgical approach involving passing and receiving instruments in a smooth and confident motion. This system reduces the stress on the operator and quickens the procedure with less surgical exposure for the patient, offering a more pleasant experience overall.
1. Mather, H., Thomason, M. & Ellis, J. (2018) Are UK graduates equipped with the skill set required to meet the demands of the UK’s edentulous population? Br Dent J 225, 15–18
2. World Health Organization (2021). Health Topics: Disabilities. Available at http://www.who.int/topics/disabilities/en/ [Accessed 04 May 2021]
3. Alghamdi, H. and Jansen, J. (2021). The development and future of dental implants. [online] pubmed.gov. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31969548 [Accessed 04 May 2021]