Ben Atkins in the GBT hot seat

Ben Atkins GBT experienceThey say you can’t properly understand another person’s experiences until you have walked a mile in their shoes. Ben Atkins has taken that to heart and recently sat in the guided biofilm therapy (GBT) hot seat to make sure he understands what it is like from both sides of the dental journey.

How do you feel about your own oral health?

I am of a generation where I was rewarded with a bag of sweets after going to the dentist. There were even lollipops at the reception desk!

I’m also of the generation that had a lot of metal fillings in their mouths, which is why I’m on this journey personally, to educate patients on how far-reaching oral health really is, but in simple, understandable terms.

I want patients to understand that dentistry has evolved over the years. The preventive journey can be gentle and pleasant, ultimately improving their overall health.

That goes for me, too. I’m concentrating on good brushing, cleaning between my teeth and my diet.

What professional, preventive interventions have you experienced in the past?

What haven’t I had done? I’ve had my wisdom teeth out under general anaesthetic, and I looked like a chipmunk afterwards. I’ve had lots of different fillings, my teeth cleaned professionally, and oral health advice from different people.

How did you feel about them, from both professional and personal perspectives?

Again, growing up there wasn’t a great focus on prevention. I think that has played a significant part in why my passion is oral health. Setting preventive journeys for my patients is so important to me.

They need to understand their responsibilities in that journey and that restorative dentistry can be avoided through preventive care, simply by really concentrating on their oral health and adjusting their diet.

I would have liked to have known that before I became a dentist.

Today you experienced GBT for the first time. How do you feel about it?

It really reaffirmed for me how gentle dentistry can be. And I’ve got white teeth again, just from half an hour with dental hygienist Claire Berry at Yorkshire Dental Suite.

I’ve also learned something today about how I brush my teeth, because I’m apparently missing out one area.

It makes such a difference to my outlook on dentistry because it’s a pleasant experience. It’s something I’ll do again – every three months actually, so Claire tells me.

What do you think protocols like GBT offer practices – both NHS and private?

For me, dentistry has always been a business and a vocation, and they do intersect considerably.

For all practices, GBT adds to the prevention armoury, to help secure patients’ oral health long into the future.

Alongside that, there is an aesthetic element, which tends to be more significant in private practices, of course, as NHS care is limited in that arena.

That said, GBT offers NHS practices a really significant advantage too. It can provide a new option for further treatment. Not a want, not a need, but combining the two to make sure we’ve got another string to our bow to help grow our practices.

So, GBT really facilitates that growth, and I have seen that first-hand with my dental business.

Meanwhile, patients are entitled to have choices in terms of preventive care and treatment, empowering patients to choose what is right for them. GBT is right at the forefront for that.

What are the benefits for patients?

It’s something patients can understand. I love behavioural change and disclosing during the GBT journey is a game changer in that regard.

They can also see for themselves the aesthetic effects of stain removal after the procedure. It’s giving patients what they want as well as what they need. GBT offers that balance really well – the fine line between want and need.

How does it link in with your ethos that communication between the dentist and patient is key?

My passion is education within dentistry. GBT fits into that journey of capitalising on behavioural changes, because people learn differently.

Our job as the dentist and the therapist and the hygienist and the dental nurse is to find which learning route works for each patient and operate within that framework.

So, for example, the visual that disclosing provides ensures patients know exactly where they need to make improvements. Others have never been shown how to brush their teeth. These are standardised steps within the GBT protocol.

What advice would you offer to practices yet to embrace GBT?

My biggest tip is to have GBT yourself. See how you feel about it afterwards. I think you’ll be blown away – I have been.

As a practice owner looking for effective and patient-friendly systems that can also grow the business, I have to say that GBT fits in really nicely with all that.

I would also consider it in relation to any aesthetic treatment offered in the practice. I would not start cosmetic treatment without getting their oral health up to a certain standard as it’s unlikely otherwise to meet a patient’s long-term expectations.

GBT, as a gentle, effective process, offers the ideal avenue to better oral health, improved overall health, successful aesthetic treatments, a happy team, even happier patients and a healthy bottom line, regardless of whether the practice is private, mixed or NHS!

Guided biofilm therapy is an evidence-based, indication-orientated, systematic, modular prevention or prophylaxis and therapy protocol for all dental applications.

Clinicians can achieve it in eight simple, pain-free steps:

  1. Assess – probe and screen every clinical case
  2. Disclose – make biofilm visible
  3. Motivate – raise awareness and teach
  4. Airflow – remove biofilm, stains and early calculus
  5. Perioflow – remove biofilm in >4 to 9 mm pockets
  6. ‘No pain’ Piezon – remove remaining calculus
  7. Check – make your patient smile
  8. Recall – a healthy patient equals a happy patient.

If you would like further details about what EMS Dental has to offer dental professionals in the UK, please visit

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