The digital era has arrived

_MG_3101After lecturing at the prestigious Dentistry 16: Stars of Dentistry, Seb Evans caught up with Christian Coachman to find out about Digital Smile Design and how Christian keeps a good work-life balance.

Dr Christian Coachman is a name that will be familiar to many dentists across the UK. For the last few years he has been travelling the globe lecturing on the benefits of Digital Smile Design. He is a big advocate of moving dentistry into the digital era, making dentistry ‘safer and more predictable’.

His lecture at Dentistry 16: Stars of Dentistry at times seemed like a look into what could be possible in the future. Christian showed that with a quick and simple scan of the mouth, a complete digital makeover can be planned out, today. This has a number of benefits including making the treatment planning more accurate and the results more predictable.

Global dentistry

_O9A0246Christian comes with a comprehensive background in dentistry. He graduated in dental technology in 1995, and then decided to continue his education graduating in dentistry from the University of São Paulo seven years later in 2002, before becoming a member of the Brazilian Academy of Esthetic Dentistry.

Dr Coachman attended the ceramic specialisation programme instructed by Dr Dario Adolfi at the Ceramoart Training Centre, where he also became an instructor and, in 1996, he opened his own laboratory.

Christian has lectured around the globe, so how does dentistry differ between Brazil and the rest of the world? ‘I think that high end dentistry is pretty similar all over the world,’ Christian explained. ‘Of course when you go down then you have different levels of dentistry and different numbers of dentists in each level. But the very good dentists, they do very similar things all over the world.

‘The world is very small, people are exchanging information. Of course, you have some emerging dental markets with a lot of progressive thinkers and developing concepts and this is something that’s been happening in Brazil over the last decade, with a lot of research. There’s a lot of great speakers, a lot of people doing new things. The US is the main centre for solid know-how, but I think the UK is growing.

‘The UK was always known as a place that aesthetic dentistry is not really that developed, but I have great friends here who are amazing doctors. They see that the events are growing, people are getting more involved and patients are starting to ask more for a holistic comprehensive solution.’

Work-life balance

Having the right work-life balance can be difficult, even more so when you spend most of the time travelling the world to lecture. ‘I live most of the time in São Paulo Brazil,’ Christian explained. ‘I spend a lot of time in Madrid, the headquarters of Digital Smile Design. And then I would spend more than half of the year travelling all over the world.

‘It is difficult to juggle the two, travel of course is stressful, it’s tiring, it’s exciting as well. At the moment, you have to take advantage of this momentum, everything is happening with Digital Smile Design so we have to do what we have to do at this moment.

‘I believe that this is going to be the last year that we’re going to be travelling like crazy like this, it’s been seven years and my wife is pregnant. So in January next year we decided the baby is going to come and then it finishes. So in one or two years we’ll be living a completely different life, but hopefully until then we have new projects coming that I’ll be able to manage without travelling too much.’

The future of dentistry

DSD is a software package that makes it possible for dental practitioners to scan a patient’s mouth and upload it into the software. The idea behind it is that from here the practitioner can ‘design’ the patient’s perfect smile, together with the patient.

Using digital drawings, images and rulers, the patient and dentist’s desires can then be communicated with the dental laboratory and an effective and tailored treatment plan be put together.

Christian Coachman believes that this will make dentistry more predictable. Dentistry has often been left behind when it comes to digital advances. Fingers have been pointed at the reluctance of some companies to invest in dentistry, or the slow uptake of some dentists. So should dentists now start actively embracing digital dentistry? ‘Definitely,’ Christian simply says. ‘There are some concepts that we work with in the Digital Smile Design concept that we totally believe will be the mainstream in the near future.

‘Facially-driven dentistry, interdisciplinary digital planning, integrated software platforms, motivational and emotional dentistry provides a completely different way of communicating with the patient. Basically improving communication between the team, the dentist, the specialist, the staff, the technician and with the patient. The best way to improve communication is by improving visualisation. The best way to improve communication and visualisation is through technology.’


It all sounds so simple, and the way Christian presents DSD in his lectures, it all looks so easy too. The concept makes sense, there doesn’t appear to be a downside. So why isn’t everybody using DSD? ‘Until recently the barriers were investment in technology, the learning curve, getting away from your comfort zone,’ Christian Coachman believes.

‘I would say that of these three aspects, investing in technology and the learning curve, they don’t exist anymore because dentists should outsource everything, absolutely everything. They should outsource to labs that are specialised. The same way you send a patient to a radiology centre, in the near future you’re going to send the documentation of your patient to a digital lab that will design, plan, create this information. They will be the ones that will control this technology, who will invest and buy and be experts in this technology.

‘These labs are already out there, so any dentist in the world can tomorrow take advantage of DSD and everything in my lecture, they just need to do the third thing that I mentioned, they need to get away from their comfort zone.’

DSD can be a great tool for patient acceptance. Christian showed in his lecture how he can quickly design and create mock ups for patients to try, so they can see how their appearance could change in an instant.

‘Of course you’re not going to go against ethics and you’re not going to sell something that doesn’t have a scientific background,’ Christian said. ‘I always say I only put the motivational mock-ups in patient’s mouths to create that motivation, when we have a very strong plan to support the mock-ups and I’m sure that our team is ready to deliver something very similar to that. We always say that is a pre-op test drive, there is no guarantee of 100% predictability. We’re dealing with biology, we’re dealing with emotions, we’re dealing with things that go beyond mathematics. Of course you have to protect yourself but the patients they understand. They’re super happy with this chance of having a vision of what can happen at the end.’

Dentistry 16: Stars of Dentistry

Dentistry 16: Stars of Dentistry was one of the biggest events in the dental calendar last year. The day brought together all the leading dental professionals from around the world. ‘Last year was a great programme, this year is even better,’ Christian said. ‘It’s really a top level programme. I mentioned in my lecture, you have Frank Spear, Lorenzo Vanini, John Kanca III, people from the UK like Chris Orr.

‘It’s a great line up, the set up was great, the projections were great. For us it’s always nice to be lecturing in a nice venue, people are super nice and I’m happy to be part of this.’

Dr Christian Coachman graduated in dental technology in 1995 and in dentistry at the University of São Paulo, Brazil in 2002. He is a member of the Brazilian Academy and Society of Esthetic Dentistry and of the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry (AAED). Dr Coachman currently works at his family dental clinic in São Paulo, Brazil, together with his father, uncle and brother. He also works as a consultant for dental companies and offices developing products and implementing concepts and has lectured and published internationally in the fields of aesthetic dentistry, dental photography, oral rehabilitation, dental ceramics and implants. He is the developer of the Pink Hybrid Implant Restoration technique, and the Digital Smile Design and Virtual Lab concepts.

For more information about Dentistry 17: Stars of Dentistry, visit, call 01923 851771 or email [email protected].

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