Interview with Richard M. Schneider, Managing director of the portal and Clinical Professor/New York University Ady Palti, member of the "scientific advisory board".

Zug, July 2014 | With all the flood of titles at the dental specialist's, not many patients know what the training and further education certifications on the wall in the waiting room stand for. The information clutter on the internet especially with evaluation portals of dental specialists with dubious statements makes it difficult for patients to get an impartial perspective in this field.

Leading Implant Centers, an independent internet portal within the specialist field of implantology, has been in the market for one year and is aiming at correcting this. The entry criteria are according to the prestigious and internationally recognized implantological scientific associations. To be affiliated and listed as an implantologist on this portal, solely the quality of education and the passed examination/certification as an implantologist counts.
Managing director of the portal, Richard M. Schneider and Clinical Professor/New York University Ady Palti, member of the "scientific advisory board", pioneer and technical expert in the field of implantology provide answers to the current situation of implantology education and the meaning of the internet portal for the implantology market.

Mr. Richard M. Schneider, why have you co-founded an internet portal such as Leading Implant Centers and what differentiates this portal in comparison to other internet portals in the field of implantology?
We are the only internet portal that verifies the education and the passed examination/certification of implantologists before welcoming them as a member to the portal. The implantology experts listed on our portal are the ones with the highest education and certification levels within the market. It is our main concern to enable patients to find a qualified implantologist and to be informed in advance about treatments. This is why we want to bring transparency into the market and guarantee that the quality of the listed experts is accurate.
The scientific dental associations have a very qualified educational structure but are for political reasons not allowed to make a clear differentiation between dental specialists, or respectively emphasize the better qualified of these. Therefore, they cannot communicate to patients that there are implantologists who are certified to the highest level of training in implantology and other dental specialists with lesser qualifications.
Prior to our establishment we were shocked by the many portals on the net, which either took into account or verified the qualifications of the implantologists. We were already irritated and still are by the partly dubious statements and the sugar-coated reviews of dental specialists on these review sites. Luckily, many consumers and patients are already sophisticated about this and no longer fall that easily for these kinds of reviews. As bad reviews simply get deleted on these portals and only the good reviews are left to remain.
If you happen to be affected by this and request a second opinion it can become a dilemma. Either one is fortunate enough to have had a good recommendation or - and this certainly happens to more patients - one simply ends up being disappointed. 

Mr. Ady Palti, based on your initiative the German Association of Oral Implantology (DGOI) was founded 10 years ago, whose president you were for six years. You therefore know the market in the field of implantology like the back of your hand. My question for you is: how important is it that your colleagues are undergoing further training in implantology and attain certifications?
The scientific associations stand for colleagueship, team spirit and further education for dentists, dental technicians and assistant professions. The close co-operation of science and practice as well as many contacts on a national and international level are the strong points.
Training and further education are the most important things as only with that our colleagues can face patients with a clear conscience. In this training many practical and theoretical procedures are learnt from experienced implantologists. In the regional study groups experiences are exchanged and the more experienced colleagues can offer help and advice. Training and further education should be implicit for every dental specialist. 

Mr. Richard M. Schneider, how large a number of dental specialists worlwide fulfills the entry criteria of the portal and what are these criteria?
Implantology is a field of expertise with a growing market and therefore lucrative for dental specialists. Therefore, dental specialists are increasingly organizing in various national and international scientific associations to further educate themselves. However, it is a fact that only about 2 percent of all licensed dental specialists can be listed with us due to quality reasons. This is a fact which we communicate to the patients!
The entry criteria is strict: Leading Implant Centers solely incorporates dental specialists as members which are qualified in oral implantology to the highest level of training and certification in their respective scientific association and/or attained approbation as a specialist. Every member still needs to have at least four years of practical experience in oral implantology with the appropriate training and certification, and at least 200 personally placed implants with corresponding documentation.

Mr. Ady Palti, why are there so few trained implantologists and is it true that many a dental specialist worldwide can call themselves implantologist without the proper training?
The training and further education requires a lot of time but we positively notice that many colleagues have realized that it is well worth it.
And yes, any dental specialist in Germany can call themselves an implantologist as this title is not protected. 

Mr. Ady Paltiwhich education is legally protected and can be recommended for a dental specialist with an interest in further education?
The titles and certifications of the scientifically acknowledged scientific associations are legally protected; the training as such unfortunately cannot be protected. 

Mr. Richard M. Schneider, which goals have you set for the portal in the coming years?
As mentioned previously it is of utmost importance to us to create transparency for the patients concerned and to be the first point of contact on the search for qualified implantologists and this on a national as well as international level. We therefore want to establish an extensive international network of implantologists under the brand of Leading Implant Centers. I would like to point out that we are not a rating portal. This means that we assess and present implantologists according to their qualifications. For us, these are the only rigorous criteria!
Currently we are represented in 25 countries. The scientific advisory board consists of eight implantologists from 6 countries with many years of experience, especially in the training of implantologists.
With the positive feedback of the educated implantologists, we continually expand our international presence which is mainly to the benefit of patients. Supported through information so that the patient is sophisticated about it and can undergo treatment with a secure feeling.
Furthermore, with this portal on the market among dental specialists we aim to create a maelstrom of requests for a qualified education within the field of implantology. It is only by doing this that access to an extensive selection of good implantologists will become possible. And consequently we can answer the important question raised by patients: "How do I find the right implantologist".

Mr. Ady Palti, what makes a successful implantologist?
Primarily, of course, training and further education and their experience in professional practice. However in the interaction with their patients they are persuasive through open communication and have a good empathetic style while consulting. In other words this means transparency with the costs, treatment methods and materials. Especially anxious patients need empathy and patience from their implantologist during the treatment process. 

Thank you very much for this short interview.

Interviewed by Anja Thunert