Why digital dentistry isn’t the future

With the brakes firmly applied to hands on education at the start of lockdown, courses, lunch and learns, conferences, symposiums etc, all disappeared overnight. However, Ivoclar Vivadent’s passion for delivering premium education remains stronger than ever. The team worked incredibly hard through lockdown, bringing you some of the absolute best online webinars and virtual education during the pandemic. As we pass the half way point in our 2021 ICDE education calendar, it is clear that for the UK’s dental profession, hands-on education is as much in demand as it ever was. Maybe even more so.

Today we hear from one of our 2021 ICDE certified trainers, Dr Alif Moosajee about his journey from a young dentist to becoming an award-winning practice owner.

Dr Moosajee has quickly established himself as a firm favourite with course delegates. He teaches our ‘Everything for chairside CAD/CAM restorations course’. Dr Moosajee’s natural ability and desire to share his knowledge, tips and tricks along with his caring approach to his patients ensure that delegates leave the course with a whole new set of skills. Skills that will prove invaluable for use in everyday practice.

Growing my comfort zone

I have been a dentist coming up to 17 years now. Shen I look back on the early part of my career I remember thinking about how ‘big’ dentistry was for that guy on the stage.

The lecturer, the one on the podium who was showing me beautiful cases, transforming peoples’ smiles and fixing peoples’ broken-down dentitions.

For me it seemed so far removed from my practice. I couldn’t even see the way I could get on the first step of the ladder to them. Let alone be that dentist who was good enough to take that stage.

For the early part of my career, I didn’t feel very confident as a dentist. I would actually shy away massively from anything more than simple single tooth dentistry.

I was happy doing composite fillings but even crowns would sometimes stress me out a bit!

My comfort zone was quite small. I never used to really like to take risks. Instead I would always worry about what my patients would think of me. I was worried that they might complain.

The parental figure

However, I realised that being fearful and playing it safe were not how you stop getting complaints. The way you stop getting complaints is by being a human being, who not only does everything they can to care well for their patients, but also (more importantly) takes time to communicate how they are caring for this person.

This way your patient can fully understand just what the value is that they are receiving from their treating dentist.

I realise that what I picked up in many courses about building rapport and trying to become the ‘friend’ of the patient was not suited to me personally. So I came up with the term ‘the relationship of loving authority’.

I feel like to get the most out of the dentist-patient relationship it’s not about being their friend. Instead it’s more of a parental figure, who is able to tell them when they are doing things right. But also when they are doing things wrong.

We need to explain and tell patients why their wishes might not suit, given the state of their mouths and oral health.

The reality is that in order to do great dentistry, it is a partnership and a team effort. Where the clinical team are going to bring their ‘A-game’. But it also requires a huge amount of effort from the patient as well.

We must be crystal clear, so patients really understand what they need to do for long-term success. Otherwise it is right that the patient won’t consent properly for the procedure they have.

This has led me to grow and take on far more complex cases, but also be very, very careful about how these cases are communicated well to patients. This way they really understand what they are getting themselves into.

The thing I cannot stand is regret

I would absolutely hate it if the patient turned around and said to me: ‘If only I knew’. Or if they said: ‘I only had the treatment because you said…’.

That is why I’m never desperate to do treatment on patients. Instead, I will always try to clearly communicate the potential complications. Then I can test whether a patient is happy to have treatment. Even if they are likely to experience risks.

I will often say to patients that, if there is 90% success in this treatment, that means there is 10% chance of failure. More importantly, if you experience that failure it is 100% real to you.

If they’re able to accept that potential risk, then I feel they are the right patient for me to treat.

Where does digital dentistry come in all of this?

Digital dentistry gives me the tools to allow me to communicate my plan to the patient before I need to touch them.

I can scan the teeth, take photos to allow me to communicate well with my technician. That way we can design the new smile, and position it correctly on the face.

We create templates that we can put into the patient’s mouth. Then they can see what the new smile is going to look like with the lips covering. And also understand where the new smile is going to fit into their face.

This is our opportunity to understand what we like and what we don’t like. Then we can make modifications even before making provisionals.

Another superb advantage is that I’m able to mill restorations chairside. I can put patients into excellent fitting and robust milled provisionals in a single day, which is a fantastic advantage.

My favourite material for this is Telio CAD from Ivoclar Vivadent. I love cementing them with Telio Cem. The combination works great because it makes the provisional restorations easy to remove and the clean-up is really neat.

Investing in digital dentistry

Because digital dentistry is so accurate, I feel confident, that with good preps and a good scan, I will have restorations that fit so well I don’t need to worry about silly things like fit and marginal seal. That side of the dentistry takes care of itself.

What I need to worry about is just making sure that my patient and I are on the same page. Then I can definitely deliver the smile that they want. Rather than my ‘notion’ of what the perfect smile should look like.

If we can give opportunities for our patients to understand what their smile is going to look like and most importantly tell us that they disapprove, before we fit the final job, then we will generally be able to assure ourselves of success for every case.

Given the expectations that patients bring with them, and rightly so, I believe that it’s a safe and responsible way to practice if we use the tools that digital dentistry gives us now.

That’s why we, as a profession, can’t wait. This is the reason I invested so heavily in digital dentistry. And I continue to look to how I can use this powerful tool to improve the dentistry I provide for my patients.

To hear more from Dr Alif Moosajee, please join him for his webinar entitled: ‘Everything for chairside CAD/CAM restorations’ on 02/09/21.

Here he will discuss, in more detail, his approach to treating patients today in his practice successfully, using CAD/CAM chairside technology combined with his material of choice, Telio CAD and Telio Cem to ensure perfect fitting restorations, superb aesthetics and most importantly, happy patients.

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