What level of training should you feel comfortable with before committing to treatment?

What level of training should you feel comfortable with before committing to treatment?

You deserve to be treated by a practitioner who is honest about their qualifications.

Dental students often graduate with limited exposure of orthodontics, oral implants or often without even doing a single porcelain veneer.

There are different pathways to expand clinical skills after graduation. Some of these qualifications are recognised and some are not. For example, many dentists today are taking one or two day courses on implants, working on plastic model jaws then starting on patients. What level of training should you feel comfortable with before committing to treatment?

Some practitioners on Google who claim to be orthodontic, implant or cosmetic specialists can be under qualified general practitioners with very minimal training. Sometimes they may use wording such as” fully accredited implant specialist” or “Speciality – Implant Dentistry”, claim to have graduated from a prestigious institute and capable of treating Temporomandibular joint pain, or to be a certified Invisalign provider.

These so called ‘institutes” usually offer short, one and two day, or one-week courses. These are not academic institutes in the traditional sense. Instead they offer commercial shorter courses, where usually no written exams or skill testing is required.

One such implant course is an implant company sponsored “fellowship” from the University of Miami. This is over a total of 15 days in Melbourne, Miami and Colombia. Twenty implant surgeries and 2 sinus lifts are performed under supervision in Bogota Colombia and the trainee leaves the country. Most recognised fellowship programmes in medicine and dentistry are one-year full time at a teaching hospital, with follow up of treated patients.

Other general dentists may have titles such as a Graduate Diploma in Oral Implants, a Master of Clinical Dentistry from Griffith University or a Master of Science in Oral Implantology from Frankfurt in Germany. These are, mostly well organised, university accredited part time programmes over 1.5 to 2 years with a limited number of cases completed under some supervision. Graduates have attended and been examined in implant dentistry at a University level, but these are not specialist courses for complex cases. They are designed for general dentists to provide some safe, quality implant therapy within general dental practice, and often act as a stepping stone to specialist practice.

Specialist registration requires at least 3 years full-time post-grad education

Specialist registration requires, at least three years of full time education in addition to two years general practice experience at an accredited university and teaching hospital. The general dentist must pass numerous written and oral exams during training at a university affiliated institution to gain the title of specialist, such as orthodontist, prosthodontist or periodontist.

It can be difficult to know the qualifications of your dentist.  The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency website has the details of all registered health professionals in the country, including general dentists and dental specialists.

You can check your dentist’s credentials by visiting https://www.ahpra.gov.au/ and entering your dentist’s name in the search window.


If the person you’re seeing has claimed to be a specialist such as an orthodontist, prosthodontist or implant specialist before commencing your treatment you can easily search their records to find out your practitioner’s credentials.


Look for the registration type ‘Dentist – Specialist’ to confirm they are truly a specialist. If they are not on this list, they are not a specialist and may not be qualified.

Think about seeing a specialist if you are considering extensive and expensive dental treatment. You may want to get a second opinion from a registered specialist if you are experiencing any worrying side effects that were not explained to you. Dental implants and complex dentistry can change your life but can be invasive and the results of a poor decision can be difficult to rectify.


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