Looking back on the Academy of Osseointegration’s recent Annual Meeting, I am impressed with the level of collegiality among our profession, and the importance of it to the vitality of dentistry in the 21st century; and perhaps nowhere is it more vital than in implant dentistry.
Collegiality is defined as the relationship between colleagues — those united in a common purpose. Whether we are specialists or general dentists, students or seasoned practitioners, living in the United States or across the pond, our shared goal is to enhance oral health and make our patients smile.
While technology has advanced to improve success rates and shorten healing times, there has also been an explosion of information regarding choices for implant surfaces, attachment types, restorative design, and materials. It’s not easy to navigate and identify the most relevant and up-to-date information and avoid the trap of being creatures of habit, continuing to do what we’re most familiar with. While very few of us are able to quote every clinical article in the past 5 years, it is imperative that we keep current with trends and best practices. And the best way to do that is through sharing both successes and problems with colleagues.
In addition, we’re facing increasing issues of long-term and medically related complications, e.g., peri-implantitis and medication-related post-surgical and late bone complications. The plethora of decisions we face makes it evermore imperative that we understand the risks, as well as the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of each option.
That’s why it’s so important for us to come together and participate in vetted programming and educational events we can trust. As a unified group of committed clinicians, we can gain new perspectives and challenge our old ways of thinking. We all, dentists and scientists across the spectrum of disciplines and backgrounds, need to teach, challenge, and critique one another; and we need to do it in an environment independent of outside influences.
Collegiality also fosters a cross-fertilization of ideas — spanning not only specialties, but also generations. While at this year’s meeting, I was reminded of — and inspired by — the enthusiasm, fresh thinking, and familiarity with the literature our young members brought with them. I also saw how our more tenured members offered insights into how to evaluate the “latest and greatest” advances that come along.
With the global implant dentistry market expected to double by 2018, it is increasingly important for all dentists involved in implant dentistry to work together to represent our field in the best light possible and to keep success rates high, and our patients safe and happy with our professional skills.
The Academy of Osseointegration (AO) is an organization that connects us all and has led the way in implant dentistry since 1985. Together, we evaluate emerging research, technology and techniques, share best practices, and coordinate optimal patient care using timely, evidence-based information. (And, I’ll let you in on a little secret: We have quite a bit of fun doing it!)
If you’re considering joining AO, more information about member benefits can be found at www.osseo.org.
Alan Pollack, DDS
President, Academy of Osseointegration