My journey to complete dentistry

I first came across the Dawson Philosophy when looking through the never-ending list of recommended texts during my MSc in Prosthodontics. I read Dr Peter Dawson’s Occlusion: TMJ to Smile Design cover to cover when preparing for my written exams. I must admit I was overwhelmed by the detail in the text but impressed by the logical manner of its presentation. Being my ‘efficient’ self, I simplified my understanding of occlusion with the more comfortable teaching that was not as focused at the ‘finer details’. Why make my life difficult?

Robust restorations
After some years in practice, a few of my previously restored cases started to prematurely fail in various ways. This included premature chipping of porcelain or composite, devitalisation of abutments with conservative preparations and accelerated wear of teeth. I planned my cases, used facebows and followed strict protocols to ensure robust restorations when bonding my composites and choosing materials to restore teeth. I reflected on my practice and decided to revisit my occlusal principles.

That same day, I started looking to the States to fill this gap in my skill set. I sifted through the various academies in the States and, during my exploration of the Dawson Academy site, found that the faculty had an international representative based here in the UK – Dr Ian Buckle. Why bother with a flight across the pond when I could drive 30 minutes to the centre?

On the first day, I realised the common denominator between the dentists was the frustration of not being the complete dentist who wished to manage patients needs predictably. Following an overview of anatomy and basic principles, there was a lot of hands on application. The examination process is thorough to say the least, concentrating on traditional aspects and introducing an assessment of the TMJs and musculature in an accessible and functional manner.

When was the last time you waxed up a tooth? How does a lower incisal edge look? If there is one thing you learn here is how poor our appreciation of dental anatomy is! In the treatment planning phase, we developed on our examination skills and assessed cases (our own, too) systematically to allow us to plan every case. I couldn’t fault it. It is requires time and effort, but saves you so much during your active treatment as you and your patient are confident knowing your end point.

This analysis involves knowing where teeth should be spatially, the position of incisal edges, gingival margins and tooth contacts (interproximal and interarch). Using wax ups and kesling set ups we then analyse how this should be achieved. Being in so much control is empowering. This allows you to present to the patient a well thought-out plan.
Dr Buckle’s approach to teaching is refreshing.

He is grounded in every day practice unlike many academics. I believe his aim is to allow us to provide our patients with predictable routine care and gives us the skill set to be able to plan and execute the more complex rehabilitations we come across. Ian understands the practical logistics of integrating the Dawson philosophy in our daily practice and his experiences, good and bad, have give us great insight. If you are like me, you want to be the best practitioner you can be.

Dr Dawson and Dr Buckle encourage us to be the ‘go to dentist’ in our area. Believe me, completing the core curriculum will help you in achieving that goal.
Monder Zbaeda asks why bother with a flight across the pond when you can study here!


Monder Zbaeda BDS(Hons) MSc MFDS RCSEd graduated from the University of Manchester in 2006. He was also an extern at Harvard University. He gained membership of Royal College of Surgeons and returned to private practice across Cheshire and Lancashire while completing an MSc in prosthodontics. He completed the core curriculum under the tutelage of Ian Buckle and was invited to join him in the Dawson Academy as a teaching assistant and mentor.

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