By Bruce G. Freund, DDS
This is an exciting time for dentists. Those dental professionals who like to stay on the edge may already be providing the newest in dental services to their patients — cosmetic facial injectables — neurotoxins and facial fillers.
Neurotoxins are commonly known by the names Botox, Dysport, or Xeomin or — depending on the manufacturer — Allergan, Medicis, or Merz — and are used to relax muscles which can cause lines that tend to make you looked stressed or tired.
The most common facial fillers are Restylane, Perlane, Juvéderm, and Radiesse. The first three are hyaluronic acid-based gels, while Radiesse is a calcium-based gel, but they are all used for the same purpose — to make you look more youthful. These products, as opposed to the neurotoxins, replace lost volume and fill in lines and folds to give the skin a smoother, younger appearance.
Now, as a health-care professional, how do you know which course to take that gives you the best instruction in how to provide these valuable services to your patients? There are some fundamental rules to follow in choosing a course, seminar, or instructor:
- What are the instructor’s qualifications?
- Does the advertised instructor actually do the instructing? Too many times a “name” in the dental profession fronts the lecture/hand-on portion, but the actual training is left to instructors whose qualifications are unknown.
- Do the instructors actually perform these procedures as part of their professional services, or do they just teach the technique but not perform it? In other words, do they practice what they preach? It is important to know because of the practical application to your practice; i.e., you may learn how to inject but then you need to know how to market yourself. It is easy to tell someone what should be done, but when you are dealing with someone who has practiced it and can troubleshoot/teach you the ins and outs, you will be better prepared. You need to believe in yourself and have the confidence to let your patients know that as a dentist you are as well trained as any medical professional who performs these procedures.
- Ask for references, but don’t be shy about contacting them. It’s obvious that any testimonials posted will be positive comments. Preferably, ask colleagues which courses they recommend. Every state has different requirements and rulings, so be careful that you check before performing these services. For instance, in New Jersey where I have a private practice, the State Board of Dentistry now requires certification in order to perform facial injectables. You are mandated to take a 21-hour State Board-approved course, in a State Board-approved facility, in order to meet the requirements to be certified to perform these services for your patients. We at the American Academy of Facial Cosmetics have worked closely with our State Board to recognize the right of dentists to perform procedures for which they are well trained. We are proud to say that our course was one of the first approved courses in the state of New Jersey, and we continually strive to spread the message that dentists are great injectors and should be recognized as such.
- Is there support once you complete the course? What I mean by this is, can you ever reach the instructor with questions you may have? It is nice to have the feeling that someone is there to guide you through those “firsts” and someone cares that you become successful. Too often, once you take a course, you are on your own. This is a priority for me when I teach other dentists. Since I maintain a full-time dental practice and do not travel far and wide, I keep myself available for the questions that I know will come; I am happy to answer them! It is the only way to ensure that your trainees have become well-equipped with the knowledge and confidence they need to become avid injectors.