Overcoming the challenges of implant maintenance
For the dental hygienist or dental therapist helping patients to maintain good oral health around dental implants can be difficult for a number of reasons. Helen Minnery, Immediate Past President of the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT), explores some of the challenges faced in practice today.
“Since I qualified, I’ve seen an enormous increase in the number of dental implants being placed. Patients want to get away from wearing a removable denture and implants offer an effective alternative. The treatment has also become more accessible.
“For example, some patients may go abroad for treatment in search of cheaper prices. This can present a challenge for the dental hygienist and dental therapist, they visit when they return to the UK for their on-going care. Not only does the professional have no control over the quality of products or reliability of the procedures employed during implant placement, but they may also have to contend with a lack of patient understanding about the need for continued oral hygiene.
“In some cases, the practice may not place implants, so the dental hygienist or dental therapist might not have a lot of experience in the field. This could happen whether the patient went abroad for surgery or simply visited after having dental implants placed at another practice in the UK. The difficulty with this is that the dental hygienist is expected to maintain the health of that patient’s implant, even if they do not have the appropriate equipment.
“Another challenge faced is related to the design of the prosthesis. If it doesn’t allow easy access, this can make it impossible for the patient and sometimes even the professional to effectively clean around it.
“In addition, there is conflicting information in the profession about whether or not we should be probing implants or whether we should be leaving them alone completely.
“All these potential issues regarding maintenance of dental implants can make dental hygienists and dental therapists nervous about caring for their patients. Implants are taught as part of the curriculum, but if you’re not seeing them every day, a lack of experience can lead to lower confidence.”
Helen will be addressing these challenges and others during her lecture at the British Dental Conference and Dentistry Show 2019. She will be presenting a session entitled “Supporting patients with immediate loading full arch implant restorations – a practical guide” within the Hygienist & Therapist Symposium, on Saturday 18th May.
“It’s essential to make the patient aware that it’s their role to look after their implants. They need to understand the importance of their on-going home care routine – it is not just a fit and forget situation! Patient education is therefore crucial. They need to know how to clean their prosthesis as best they can, just as they should be looking after their natural teeth. Techniques and products should be demonstrated and tailored to them, tailored to their dexterity and individual routines. They also need to appreciate the need for regular visits to the practice in order to undergo professional cleanings.
“As I’ll discuss during my session, it’s also important to promote the team approach – including the dentist, dental hygienist, dental therapist, dental technician and patient. Successfully maintaining implants is a team effort and if any one of these parts is not fully committed, problems occur. Where possible, establishing this at the outset of treatment would be ideal. I’ll also look at the benefit of creating a protocol for the practice to follow when patients with implants present. Even if your practice doesn’t place implants, having a go-to process can give all professionals the confidence they need to deliver effective long-term care.”
The British Dental Conference and Dentistry Show 2019 will present various learning and networking opportunities for dental hygienists and therapists, as well as all other members of the team. The extensive trade floor will also host an array oral health product suppliers and training providers for delegates to discover.
“There is always a great buzz and atmosphere at this event,” Helen adds. “It’s a great place to get enhanced CPD and there is something for everyone – whatever is in your Personal Development Plan, this show will fulfil your needs.”
Register for your free pass online today!
The British Dental Conference and Dentistry Show 2019 – Friday 17th and Saturday 18th May – Birmingham NEC, co-located with DTS.
For further details visit www.thedentistryshow.co.uk, call 020 7348 5270
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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