The article published in the Australian Dental Journal by Barrowman et al.1 reported on the advantages and disadvantages of implant tourism. The article correctly highlights the lack of accountability and regulations and this is particularly evident when complications occur. Similar cases of complications have been reported earlier.2 One of the contributing factors for the increase in the number of implant related complications is inadequate training in the prevention, recognition and treatment of complications.1,2
The core issue is about lack of regulations in training regarding dental implants. An ever increasing number of dental implant companies which regularly come up with newer types and versions of implants has led to much competition among implant companies to sell their respective products. Unfortunately, many of the implant companies oversimplify the entire implant therapy. In many cases, a new clinician begins practising implants after attending a company sponsored one or two-day crash course in implant dentistry. Naturally, this has led to many incidents of failures in implant related therapy. It would be very difficult to learn or teach implant dentistry, especially case selection and treatment planning within one or two days.
In 1997 a non-profit corporation, the Institute for Dental Implant Awareness (IDIA) was founded to provide independent, authoritative and objective information on the benefits of dental implants as an alternative treatment option for tooth replacement.3 IDIA has been aggressive in a campaign stating that the public is best served by a team approach to implant dentistry. The Institute has been critical of two or three-day courses on dental implantology which claim to teach clinicians and instantly prepare ‘implantologists’. The organization is also against over-commercialization of the field and the entry of substandard implant brands without adequate animal/clinical trials. The organization claims to increase public awareness of the benefits of dental implants and the importance of selecting a qualified team of doctors to provide treatment.3
Clearer guidelines must be established on delivery of dental implant care so that adequately trained dentists perform dental implants which will go a long way in minimizing implant related complications. At the same time, care should be taken so that guidelines should not exclude general dentists from performing basic dental implant procedures. These steps will regulate the delivery of dental implant care to patients who come as tourists as well as to native patients, benefitting all concerned.