Int J Oral Maxillofac Implants 17 (2002), No. 4 15. Aug. 2002
Purpose: Didactic predoctoral dental implant education is part of the curriculum in most US dental schools. However, fewer than half offer laboratory instruction, and only a few allow dental students to place and restore dental implants. The additional time necessary for laboratory and clinical experience encroaches on an already crowded curriculum. Is the additional time necessary in the curriculum for laboratory and clinical experience by dental students reflected by the practice patterns of graduates who have completed such a program over the past 10 years? Materials and Methods: A survey was designed to determine the implant practice patterns of graduates of the Creighton School of Dentistry, Omaha, Nebraska, for the 10-year period 1988 to 1997. These graduates had all participated in a formal undergraduate didactic and laboratory curriculum in implant dentistry. Approximately half also had the opportunity to place and/or restore dental implants while students. The survey was also sent to graduates (also 1988 to 1997) from a midwestern dental school without a formal laboratory or clinical component (used as a control group). The data were analyzed statistically. Results: In comparison to the control group (56% versus 23%), more than twice as many Creighton graduates restore dental implants as a part of their general practice, surgically place more dental implants, refer more implant patients to surgical specialists, and seek more continuing education hours related to implant dentistry. These conclusions were all supported by statistical analysis of the data. Discussion: Student clinical experience with implant dentistry appears to significantly increase the incorporation of implant dentistry into future dental practices. Even if clinical experience was not an option, a school curriculum which included both didactic and laboratory participation still significantly increased the number of graduates who included implant dentistry in their practices. Conclusion: The inclusion of laboratory and clinical experience in implant dentistry in the CUSD undergraduate curriculum resulted in significantly greater participation in implant dentistry at the general practice level.