What have the main developments been in dental education in recent years?

Implantology is now an established part of dental education at many universities. Some courses even begin to familiarize students with implant treatments in their basic training, before they reach the clinical level. In the clinical semesters, the respective lectures are complemented by practical sessions, when students attend live surgeries to learn about the application of implant techniques.


Does this mean that implants have now become standard practice?

I wouldn’t put it that way. Not every dental practitioner offers implants because there is an increase in specialization in dentistry. Many implant treatments are performed across disciplines. For example, implants are often placed by maxillofacial surgeons working with referring dentists, who do the final prosthetic reconstruction. Dentists who wish to offer the whole treatment have to be well trained in both surgery and prosthetics. Some do both, while others specialize in just one area. We are seeing something of a reversal in roles here: dentists no longer want to do everything themselves and want to draw on the specialist knowledge of colleagues.


Has there been an increase in the demand for specialization in further education in recent years as dentists seek their own niche?

Yes, you have to keep your skills up to date. Dentists find their niche, and this leads to collaboration models. For example, group practices and medical centers are able to offer a very high standard of treatment because everyone is highly skilled in specific disciplines. However, patients have to accept and get used to this. Some only want to see their own dentist, who does everything, so there is still a need for allrounders.


There are now more women in dentistry than there were several years ago. Has this changed dentistry?

More than half of all dentistry students are female, which has a big impact. The treatments themselves are still the same, but women have influenced the way dentistry is actually performed. Women focus on different areas. There are more women in pediatric dentistry, and more men in maxillofacial surgery. One reason for this is the issue of balancing career and family – which is more difficult for women than men. As a result there will be more part-time employment in dentistry in the future: dentists will share practices or work closer with colleagues in other specialties.


Will the complexity of dentistry increase?

Without question. This affects implantology, as well as other disciplines. In periodontology, for example, there will be increasing emphasis on the impact of periodontal disease on general medical problems and whether they in fact trigger these problems. In implantology, one issue is how to perform implant treatment with lasting success if the patient’s health status is not optimal. It is becoming more and more common in medicine to follow an integrated approach and build bridges with neighboring disciplines.