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New IU Dental School Center to Serve as Hub for Dental Implant Education, Services

The Indiana University School of Dentistry Implant Center has been established to help facilitate a wide variety of dental implant services offered by the school and to give patients, community practitioners, and manufacturers a starting point when turning to the school for services, education, and research opportunities.

Launched in August 2011 in the dental school’s Graduate Prosthodontic Clinic, the school-sponsored center is directed by longtime restorative dentistry faculty member Fidel Barbosa, DMD, a 1996 graduate of IU’s prosthodontic and maxillofacial prosthetic programs and a dental graduate of the University of Puerto Rico. Dr. Barbosa has studied implant systems for nearly two decades, and he has taught an implant course to IU’s predoctoral students since 2000.

“The center will serve as the primary source of dental implant education for the School of Dentistry while developing evidence-based practice methods to provide outstanding patient care for the public and collaborative opportunities for implant manufacturers and Indiana’s dental practitioners,” said Dr. Barbosa.

The IU dental school has long been involved in implant education and services, with courses being offered not only to dental students but also to graduate students in prosthetic dentistry and periodontics and to hospital residents in oral and maxillofacial surgery.

“These programs will continue to flourish under their respective directors, and we look forward to coordinating our efforts with faculty from each of these fields,” said Dr. Barbosa. “The goal of the center is to serve as a convenient gateway for individuals, organizations, and companies who wish to take advantage of the school’s patient implant services, continuing education programs, and research capabilities.”

Implants continue to play an increasingly larger role in restorative dentistry. The process of replacing diseased or damaged teeth with titanium implants supporting artificial teeth instead of with a fixed or removable prosthetic device such as a dental bridge is becoming commonplace. Dr. Barbosa currently teaches a 60-hour didactic implant course to third-year dental students and an elective clinical course to students in their fourth (and final) year in the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) program.

“Now that the center is in place, we will work with the school’s curriculum committee to change the elective clinical course to a regular component of the DDS curriculum,” said Dr. Barbosa.

This plan dovetails with new guidelines set forth by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation, which will require all dental students to receive clinical implant training beginning in mid-2013.

“Indiana University School of Dentistry is uniquely prepared and has the opportunity to lead the way in implementing this major curriculum change by establishing instructional and assessment protocols to document compliance with this new educational standard,” said Dr. John N. Williams, IU’s dean of dentistry and a national commissioner to the Commission on Dental Accreditation. IU’s dental education programs undergo a comprehensive accreditation site visit in fall 2013.

The American College of Prosthodontists is also working on a recommendation that would require dentists enrolled in prosthodontic specialty programs to receive implant placement training by 2015. Dr. Barbosa sees the IU center as ideally suited for graduate students who wish to pursue implant research while working on their master’s degrees.

“Ultimately, course work in implants will involve all types of students of dentistry, including dental hygiene, as more and more members of the public have implants that will need to be properly cared for and maintained over many years,” he said.

The IU School of Dentistry Implant Center will also serve as a fellowship training site for dentists. The first year of the program is sponsored by an $80,000 grant received by IU faculty member Dr. Vanchit John, chair of Periodontics and Allied Dental Programs, from Straumann, a Swiss manufacturer of instruments and devices used in implant procedures, restorative dentistry, and oral tissue regeneration. The Straumann Dental Implant System is one of many implant systems that will be taught and studied in the center.

The recipient of the first fellowship is Dr. Dario Valencia-David, who completed his specialty certificate in prosthodontics at IU in 2011 and is currently finishing his IU master’s degree. He is a dental graduate of Universidad Autónoma de Manizales in Colombia.

In keeping with the IU dental school’s fee schedule for all patient services, the cost of implants is lower than fees typically encountered in private practice. Individuals who are interested in becoming patients in the implant center should call the Graduate Prosthodontic Clinic, (317) 278-1840.

Community dentists and specialists will be able to refer patients to the IUSD Implant Center by downloading patient referral forms from the center’s website, which will be available in the fall.

August 19, 2011