Theory vs practical implant training

By Dr Toheed Hamid

14th June 2021

4 minute read

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Dr Toheed Hamid expresses his opinion on why the theoretical aspects of implant dentistry are just as important as the practical when becoming a competent implant dentist.

Let’s be clear, theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge are two completely different approaches to learning but equally important and it’s vital to appreciate the value of both. This is especially true in implant dentistry, as one without the other is worthless.

With theory, the learning focuses on the fundamental concepts of the subject and the student gains the know-how of how and why something works. Practical knowledge can lead to a deeper understanding of the concept in terms of being able to perform the activity well in real world clinical scenarios. Essentially, it confirms that a clinician is able to actually “do” and execute a given procedure instead of simply “knowing” how to do it.

So, you want to place implants?

Once you’ve made the decision to get started in implant dentistry, defining your education pathway from a theoretical and practical aspect can be a minefield. You can spend valuable hours intensively researching the right educational provider to equip you with the skills and know-how to feel competent and confident to provide this transformative treatment option to your patients.

I know this, because along with over 2,000 other implant dentists in the UK & Ireland I’ve been there, and while all our implant education pathways and experiences will differ, I have noticed a common theme. The majority of implant courses have a strong emphasis on the practical, hands-on element of the course.

There is a temptation for many aspiring implant dentists to undertake a hands-on course with the primary focus on being able to carry out a certain number of cases at the end. This is often without obtaining some of the essential theoretical skills fundamental to implant dentistry. It is often found that litigation surrounding dental implants stems from those dentists undertaking procedures without having the correct clinical knowledge and mentoring, and essentially taking on cases that they are clinically not yet equipped to manage.

It is for this reason, that I believe implant education should be about equipping the clinician with the theoretical knowledge ready for when they embark on the practical aspect. It certainly should never be overlooked.

Educational empowerment…

Together with three other like-minded implant dentists, I’ve decided to address this by bringing together all of our experiences into one clinically and theoretically relevant course – the ‘Implant Starter Course’.

Our main aim is to provide dentists who are wishing to embark on a career in implant dentistry with a well-structured foundational programme, providing them with evidence-based and well-researched clinical and surgical protocols to further their aspirations in this rewarding discipline, before deep-diving into placing implants.

The ‘Implant Starter Course’ consists of 12 weekly online Zoom classes (60-90 minutes) over a three-month period, enabling delegates to learn from the convenience of their own home or workplace. All lessons will be recorded and available for delegates to access for two weeks after each session. Providing a cumulative total of 24 hours CPD, delegates will benefit from being taught by four experienced implant dentists, including myself and Drs Mohsin Ali, Sahraa Jabbar and Aneel Jabbar, as we structure the course around three key aspects:

  • Month one: Planning implant treatments
  • Month two: Surgical aspects on implant dentistry
  • Month three: Restorative aspects of implant dentistry

On completion of the theoretical aspects of the course, delegates will attend a full hands-on day covering the surgical and prosthetic kits as well as practice placing implants on anatomic models. With regard to a specific focusing on mentoring, all of the delegates will be added to a private WhatsApp group to share and discuss cases with course tutors in a learning-friendly environment, coupled with optional in-person mentoring with one of the four tutors in Bristol or London, or at the delegates own practice.

…leading to clinical excellence

It’s important for delegates to understand that on completion of this foundation-level course, whilst they will have the skills to confidently discuss implants as a treatment option with patients and assess case suitability, they will not be fully competent to place implants alone in practice.

Theory and practical knowledge perfectly complement each other and are very intertwined. Delegates are encouraged to supplement the knowledge and theory gained from the Implant Starter Course by continuing their education and training upon course completion.

Best of luck on your implant journey!

For more information and to enrol on the Implant Courses, click here.


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Article Author

BDS (Bristol 2008) DipImplantology (Bristol 2018) Toheed graduated from the University of Bristol in 2008 and limits his clinical time to implants and oral surgery only. He has developed a reputation for being an empathetic, thorough and well-mannered dentist. Over the past 5 years, Toheed has held the role of Foundation Dentist Trainer with great enthusiasm. In this role he is responsible for training, mentoring and guiding newly-qualified dentists during their transition from university to general practice. Toheed has furthered his postgraduate education by undertaking 2 years of the MSc in Dental Implantology course at the University of Bristol as well as attending numerous advanced implant training courses. He has been placing implants since 2014 and spends most of his time travelling between practices placing and restoring implants. Toheed provides a full range of implant treatments, including full-arch treatments and complex hard and soft tissue grafting. He also mentors dentists who are new to dental implantology and helps their development and growth through his own ‘starter’ course for dental implantology -

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