Understanding your surgeon’s training and experience
Surgical experience with dental implants can be a path to excellence, but it can also be a dangerous weakness due to reinforcement of poor techniques for surgeons have not followed an appropriate trajectory in their training, and as such lack the requisite insight.
For consumers, an indication of the level of experience in itself is not merely enough to paint a picture about their surgeon. Consumers need to know how that experience was attained, especially when considering irreversible procedures like All-On-4, which can have a profound effect on quality of life either one way or the other.
All-On-4 is a procedure that requires a high level of skill and experience, yet its streamlined nature may be confused for being straightforward by those who lack the kind of insight that only comes with appropriate training and a staged attainment of experience.
Old habits die hard: the perils of All-On-4 surgical experience without appropriate training and insight.
The main problem is that when a clinician gets into All-On-4 too early, before properly understanding all other kinds of implant procedures, they lack the ability to properly assess and critique their own work. They may also lack important skills to manage intra-operative complications. They simply may not know what they don’t know. As such, they are more likely to make errors in their treatments, and reinforce those same errors as time goes on. It then becomes kind of like the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. So in those cases experience over time may not necessarily be a good thing.
This is similar to other areas of dentistry, where a dentist who does hundreds of crowns every month may be doing these crowns poorly because of a continued reinforcement of innately poor standards.
To get a better understanding about the standard of your surgeon’s experience and learning trajectory, the most important question to ask is not only how many All-On-4 procedures have you done, but how many implants have you done before doing your first All-On-4? It is also important to know if they regularly perform bone grafting procedures, which is a critical skill to have for dealing with unexpected intra-operative situations.