Interview: Why the AO is aiming to bring GPs, specialists together
NEW YORK, N.Y., USA: In an interview, Amerian D. Sones, DMD, MS, board member of the Academy of Osseointegration (AO), and diplomate of the American Board of Prosthodontists, discusses how AO is bringing specialists and general dentists together to foster mutually beneficial relationships and ensure optimal patient care, the growth of women in the field and why she chose to become involved with AO.
Please introduce yourself to our readers. What is your background, and where do you work?
I am trained as a prosthodontist and also have maxillofacial prosthodontic training. As a full-time faculty member of Texas A&M University, Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas, I serve as the director of continuing education and the assistant director of general dentistry (AEGD) and currently teach nine advanced education general dentistry residents. My responsibilities involve the instruction of the surgical and restorative aspects of dental implant rehabilitation as well as removable and fixed prosthodontics. I oversee the dental implant education primarily of the residents and really enjoy treatment planning and sequencing dental treatment for their patients.
My position as director of continuing education has provided a wonderful opportunity to organize contemporary continuing education programs that are pertinent to the current trends in dentistry. The interaction with international speakers, alumni and practicing general dentists and specialists in the community, as well as corporate dentistry, has made the position an exceptionally rewarding one for me.
I practice one day at the Sammons Cancer Center where my maxillofacial prosthodontic training has been valuable in providing services to patients with head and neck cancer and interfacing with the complex treatment plans of radiation oncologists, otolaryngologists and medical oncologists.
My background, relative to the Academy of Osseointegration, has been deeply involved with the evolution of dental implant dentistry since my training directly with Professor Per-Ingvar Brånemark, often described as the father of modern dental implantology, in 1984. I participated with a team of surgeons and prosthodontists in the initial development of the dental implant program at UCLA School of Dentistry in 1985. Since that time, I have been active in the Academy of Osseointegration, particularly dental implant education within the dental community and developing treatment options for patients.
AO is working to bring specialists and general dentists together to ensure optimal patient care. Why is that so important right now?
The patient is our primary concern and many times the work of specialists and general dentists can be disjointed. This results in confusion and inefficient delivery of care. Specialists who work well with general dentists will improve their relationships with their patients and their referring dentists. General dentists who work well with specialists will understand their limitations while still being successful with certain types of cases and also knowing when to refer to maintain successful practices. This enhanced working relationship is gratifying for both parties and is recognized and appreciated by the patient. Subsequently, the delivery of patient care is enhanced, and both the general dentists and specialists thrive in mutual respect.
In the future, general dentists working in group, corporate, private or community-based practices will be the first health professionals to see the patient with dental implant needs. Preparing the general dentist through education will facilitate and enhance the specialist/general dentist relationship.
What insights do you have for a woman in this field? What would you tell female students now considering this career?
Dentistry is an exceptional profession for women today because it offers an opportunity to engage the art and science of the profession, along with healthy annual revenues and the possibility of a flexible schedule.
Today, the dental school student population of women exceeds or equals the male counterpart in most dental schools. This ratio has been changing for the last three decades. At Texas A&M University, the most recent class is 53 percent female and 49 percent male. There are also opportunities for leadership in many venues. For those women with an astute business sense, the practice scene today may offer a small business setting or a larger multiple doctor and staff leadership opportunity.
Why did you become involved with AO?
I became involved with the AO early in its formation because I wanted to be affiliated with a group of individuals highly interested in research and clinical developments of implant dentistry. I was a speaker for the annual meeting in 1987 in Dallas, where the attending audience was approximately 100. In recent years, the membership has grown exponentially to nearly 6,000 national and international members.
That’s because more and more dental professionals are recognizing the organization’s value and share in our mission to enhance oral health globally. I enjoy being surrounded by bright, inquisitive individuals who always are energized by being together. Topics presented at the annual meeting include cutting-edge technology and techniques that are published about in the journals one to two years later. In the midst of electronic technology, the “one-on-one” meeting of mentors, researchers and master clinicians, is one of the most exciting aspects of the annual meeting. I’m already really looking forward to next year – our 30th anniversary – that will take place in San Francisco.
Is there something that people might be surprised to know about you?
While I am usually serious in nature and business-oriented, I do have a very good sense of humor!