Mike Lloyd Hughes, a dental implantologist at the Bupa-owned Menai Bridge Dental Centre, has been named a Fellow of the International Team of Implantology (ITI) – the leading global research and teaching body for the dental implant industry. We spoke to Mike about what the Fellowship means and to find out more about his career in dental implantology.
What is the role of the ITI and what does it mean to be a Fellow?
The ITI is a global association of professionals who work within implant dentistry. Their purpose is to promote and share education, research and best practice in this field to improve oral health.
To become a Fellow, you need to be nominated by an existing ITI Fellow and show the contribution you’ve made to dental implantology. I’ve been recognised for my role as the ITI Study Club Director in North Wales, where I live, and I look forward to continuing to share the knowledge coming out of the ITI as a Fellow.
Tell us about your career journey and where it started
I graduated from Cardiff Dental School in 2004 and undertook vocational training in North Wales. In 2006 I spent a year working in the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery departments in the four local hospitals in Bangor, Glan Clwyd, Llandudno and Wrexham.
I joined Menai Bridge Dental Centre 12 years ago, which is where my interest in dental implantology began, working alongside Dr Graham Roy, who is also an ITI Fellow.
I’ve been a member of the ITI for the past 12 years, including five years as Study Club Director, responsible for disseminating and teaching research that comes out of the ITI, ensuring dentists practicing Implantology in North Wales are doing so to the highest standard. I attend other study clubs across the UK as a guest speaker.
I have also completed numerous post graduate degrees and diplomas including an MSc in Clinical Restorative Dentistry, focusing on Periodontology and evidence behind the “Full Mouth Disinfection” Protocol. I have Fellowship of the Faculty of General Dental Practitioners of the Royal College of Surgeons, England (FFGDP). A few years ago, I was also fortunate to win Best Young Dentist Wales and the Southwest, three years running at the Dentistry Awards (although I wouldn’t class myself as ‘young’ anymore!).
What do you love most about your role?
When I was in dental school, teeth extractions were becoming quite a problem in South Wales, and it made me even more determined to help save smiles. That’s why I’m so passionate about ensuring best practice is shared with every dentist, so that the public are being given access to the right advice, the right products, and right options for them.
What is the most memorable story you can recall from your career so far?
There are numerous ones, but I have one patient who came to see me five years ago, absolutely petrified and wearing a blindfold for her first extraction. She has since had 12 implants, a full mouth reconstruction, and is always happy and smiling when I see her. She is my biggest promotor of good high-end dentistry locally.
I have also had a few patients cry after giving them back their smile, their ability to eat and socialise, and more importantly their confidence. This is what drives me, being in a fortunate position to help people in their lives.
What advice would you give to dentists looking to learn more about dental implantology?
Don’t run before you can walk. There are numerous clinicians who “provide” implant dentistry, but you cannot learn this on a weekend course and hope to be good the following week. It takes years of making some mistakes, learning from them, and then making sure you help others not to do same.
For me, there is nothing worse than seeing lectures of all the “good” cases; nobody learns from them. In the ITI Study Club I have three case discussion evenings a year called “The good, the bad and the ugly”. During these sessions my colleagues and I help each other, provide constructive advice, learn from our mistakes and make sure we all know our limits.
They key thing for me with implant dentistry is you need to learn about restorative dentistry first and then learn how and where to place implants. Good implant dentistry is restoratively driven.
Who inspires you?
I was very fortunate to be mentored by Dr Graham Roy who taught me the important role dental implantology can play in helping people live happier, healthier lives. He also taught me to look at each case from a multidisciplinary approach.
I also take inspiration from other more experienced colleagues who are happy to share their failures, and share their knowledge either personally with me, or on closed social media forums. You can learn a lot from others who are prepared to disseminate their knowledge and this is the key to the ITI, to learn from one another and to share what you know to improve implant dentistry for the people of the world.