Just like many other areas in the strong and dynamic Chinese economy, implant dentistry is growing rapidly. But what is it like to be a dentist in China? To find out, we talked to Dr. Han Jie, an Associate Professor at the School and Hospital of Stomatology, Department of Periodontology at Peking University, China.
Why did you decide to become a dentist?
I was interested in this area already as a young student, and in China, we have few dentists. First I became a specialist in periodontology. And since the reason for tooth loss among patients in China is very often periodontitis, I became interested in implant dentistry.
You also studied in Europe, how was that experience?
I studied at the School of Dental Medicine at the University of Bern in Switzerland for one year, and learned implant treatment with Professor Lang. It was such a big difference from China; the patients have much better oral hygiene and it is very easy to follow up your patients. In China, most dentists normally don’t see the patient after the treatment. According to the data of our department, only 25% of periodontitis patients come back for the follow-up treatment. And this is a problem.
When I came back to China and to my department, I started implant treatment in my periodontal patients that suffered from tooth loss.
How many patients does a dentist in China have?
There are, on average, 6,500 patients per dentist. That is a lot, but in the cities we have fewer patients. In the countryside however, the numbers are very high.
You are involved in Dentsply Sirona Implants’ clinical research program; tell us about it.
It has been very interesting because we use 6 mm short implants in the posterior region with an early loading protocol. To be honest, I was a bit worried, but the results are very promising. We have treated 45 patients with a total of 95 implants, the survival rate is 96% and the marginal bone level change was minimal¹. Now I feel confident with such treatment protocol for my patients.
What is your biggest challenge doing clinical research in China?
The biggest challenge is the follow-up when we are doing clinical research. I have to call my patients personally so they come for the follow-up. Another challenge lies in instructing the patients to keep good oral hygiene.
How is the oral health of children in China today?
A lot has changed, today we have preventive dental care programs and we educate parents and children already in kindergarten. Parents never used to brush the children’s teeth but it is better now. We don’t have fluoride in the tap water in China, but they brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste. And the PFS (pit and fissure sealants) technique has been promoted in kindergarten and primary school for more than 15 years. Children in China also visit a dental clinic more regularly today.
¹ Han J, Zhang X, Tang Z, Zhang L, Shi D, Meng H. A prospective, multicenter study assessing the DENTSPLY Implants, OsseoSpeed™ TX, length 6 mm in the posterior maxilla and mandible: a 1-year follow-up study. Clin Oral Implants Res. 2015 Apr 9. doi: 10.1111/clr.12587. [Epub ahead of print] Abstract