Implant Dentistry: A new frontier for mydentist in Northern Ireland
We speak to David Gwyer who has been heavily involved in developing implant treatment in the mydentist practices in Northern Ireland.
My early career
I have always been interested in the implant based restoration of patients from early on my career. My foundation training practice was largely private based so I was exposed to high end dentistry early on in my career. I undertook firstly restorative training, closely followed by surgical training under the guidance of renowned implant surgeons Mark Diamond, Pearce Stinson and James Hall in 2013, but I immediately encountered a problem – How was I to introduce implants to be a mainstay of my practice? I was working in a small local corporate as a relatively inexperienced associate still finding their feet in the dental world; a position many young dentists find themselves in. My university training prepared me very well for the practice of dentistry. Unfortunately, I had very little training, aside from my weekend job through university in actually selling my skills as a marketable product. It has been my experience that most patients aren’t overly concerned how I would fix their problems or concerns – just that I could fix them in a pain free manner and that they would not be hit with any unexpected surprises, either clinical or financial, along the way. Essentially they were buying into me rather than a product. At this stage the practice I currently work in was owned by a very forward thinking dentist, to whom I owe a great deal and who has had a great influence on my career, who thought along a similar train of thought to me and encouraged all dentists within the practice to attend a sales seminar with Ashley Latter. From there on everything changed. Anyone who has ever attended one of Ashley’s courses will testify that, at the end of the two days, you will look on presenting treatment plans to patients in a totally different light. I was no different. Within 3 months my private income had increased by 25% and I had started placing implants in my own patients.
I had my own reservations about My Dentist as a group based on out dated opinions of corporate practices that were discussed during university. I was of the opinion that in the eyes of a corporate body profit, rather than patient care, was the main driving force and everything else was talked about in hushed whispers in the background. Needless to say when it was announced that the small corporate I worked for was being taken over by mydentist alarm bells started to ring. My first instinct was to start looking for an alternative position. However, I had recently agreed to take on a foundation dentist of my own so was contractually obliged to remain in the practice for the year. I decided to be open minded and give the new owners a chance. I can honestly say this was the best decision I ever made. From day one the group were supportive in every aspect of practice life. Initial teething problems from mundane things like changing materials suppliers and which lab to use were quickly overcome and the decision makers in head office were quick to start the process of marketing the practice and increasing the delivery of high quality private dental care to complement the existing NHS treatments provided. I am not ashamed to say that I saw a great opportunity to develop as a clinician and grasped it with both hands.
Developing provision of implant dentistry
At the point My Dentist took over the practice I would still describe myself as inexperienced at placing implants (I would guess I had placed approximately 50 implants). The practice had a large a loyal patient base so there was plenty of scope to introduce implants into the practice and surrounding area. Many meetings followed with marketing teams and clinical directors on how to promote implants. I am glad to say the hard work was not in vain. We started to run open nights and focused our in house marketing literature around implant dentistry. Our patients accepted it very well and an all too familiar comment was “I didn’t know you could do implants”. It was a very sobering thought to think of the number of missed opportunities to provide patients with high end dentistry I had let pass me by just by not marketing myself properly. As the practice’s profile grew in the local area more and more patients and friends of patients began to approach me for implant treatment. We actively promoted ourselves on social media and handed out information in the form of leaflets at shopping centres and with our monthly recall reminders. With every case my enthusiasm and passion for implants was growing. I discussed introducing CPD for the other dentists in the NI practices to encourage them to further promote implants. The directors were delighted and put me in touch with our Straumann representative for the area. Between myself, Chris Guy (Straumann) and the practice management teams we have delivered accredited implant restoration training to 10 of Northern Ireland mydentist associates and aim to promote the training province wide in the near future. The hard work put that I put in was not going unnoticed. I had always been aware that mydentist were very eager to promote from within, but it still came as a surprise when I was given the opportunity to replace a departing associate implantologist and place implants province wide, rather than from a single site.
I started working as a multisite implantologist in the latter part of 2016 feeling pretty proud of myself and glad that my hard work was being noticed. However, I came down to earth with a bit of a bump when picking up treatment left by the departing associate. There were several issues with implant and restorative failures that left me tearing my hair out and making several frantic phone calls to the DDU to get advice on the best course of action to keep myself and the practice out of the sights of the solicitors. Mydentist has been, and continue to be, incredibly supportive in the management of this stressful situation. Each case has been discussed individually to ensure that the patient is cared for in the right and appropriate manner and I have not been left to figure it out on my own at any point. Fortunately the problems encountered were short lived and we are now focusing on expanding our referral network through a mix of tried and tested and innovative new marketing schemes to further promote the group’s profile in both Northern Ireland and in bordering counties of Ireland.
I am glad to say the future is looking rosy. Since mydentist bought the practice I have placed approximately 350 implants with new cases coming in daily. Through my work with Chris Guy I have joined the Straumann Alumni program and talked to other members at the most recent Irish Alumni meeting on the development of implants in practice. I have also been accepted to read for an MSc in dental implantology, due to start in October, which will all myself and the mydentist group to accept more complex referrals and (hopefully) further increase our profile as an implant provider to the general public of Northern Ireland and Ireland. I would like to extend my thanks to all at mydentist for the support and encouragement they have given me in the development of my career and am looking forward to continue to realise joint ambitions for high quality patient care.
David Gwyer graduated from Cardiff University in 2009.
Following completion of foundation training he worked in both NHS and Private practice in both Wales and Northern Ireland.
He has been involved in implants since 2012 and has been heavily involved in developing implant treatment in the mydentist practices in Northern Ireland since 2015.