Henry Schein recently ran its sixth Annual Digital Symposium. With the appetite for digital dentistry seemingly never ending, Seb Evans went along to find out what the fuss is all about.

‘Digital’ is the buzz word in dentistry at the moment. New product launches all talk about the ways digital dentistry can easily be integrated into your practice. ‘If you don’t keep up you’ll be left behind’ are the mutterings coming from many lecture halls around the country. Some exhibitions even have dedicated ‘digital’ sections in the halls and lecture theatres, proving how big digital dentistry is and will continue to be.

It can all get a little confusing working out where digital starts and dentistry finishes. Thankfully, however, Henry Schein Connect Dental is on hand to help guide you through the complexities of the digital dentistry world. Henry Schein Connect Dental was created to provide ‘expert advice for digital solutions, including education and support to help dental professionals operate more productively and deliver superior patient care.’

Sinead McEnhill, director of Belmore Dental Studio and Implant Clinic in Ireland and speaker at Henry Schein’s Digital Symposium, explained why digital dentistry is becoming more important in everyday practice: ‘It’s extremely efficient, in terms of accuracy and predictability. A patient can see a digital image of their teeth within minutes of it being scanned, that’s a huge practice builder. Integration at the start can be quite tricky however, the exponential learning involved with it can be quite trying at times.’

That is why, through Connect Dental, Henry Schein recently ran its sixth Annual Digital Symposium at the prestigious Grange St Paul’s Hotel in London. The symposium was created to help guide the 400 delegates that attended through state-of-the-art digital solutions for the treatment of restorative patients.

Two parts

This year’s Digital Symposium was split into two parts. In the main hall there was an exhibition showcasing all the latest technology available to dentists, with experts on hand to explain what they do and how they can be installed into your practice. These ranged from the latest digital scanners to accurately, quickly and easily capture patient’s teeth in digital form, through to milling machines that provide the perfect crown in under 10 minutes while the patient waits.

Then in the lecture halls there were leading dental figures talking about how they have implemented digital solutions into their practice, how difficult it was upgrading their practice and why they think it is important to keep up to date.

The line-up of speakers ranged from leading dental figureheads through to everyday practice owners, meaning there was something for everybody.

Kick starting the day, Dr Ian Buckle, an experienced clinician with a private practice in the north west, took to the stage for his lecture, ‘Speaking the same language: a digital workflow for the whole dental team’.

Dr Buckle examined the important relationship between clinicians and their technical colleagues and how the use of digital tools can aid communication, not only with the laboratory, but also other specialists, including orthodontists, implant dentists and surgeons. In a frank and entertaining personal commentary, Ian discussed what works, what does not and what the future might hold for those reluctant to adopt digital processes.

Breakout lectures

Once lectures in the main hall had finished, delegates were free to attend a number of breakout lectures throughout the day. The speakers included Simon Chard, Jameel Gardee, Mervyn Druian, Monik Vasant and Karen Gangotra, and the topics covered everything from a full-mouth reconstruction right through to Cerec and minimally invasive dentistry.

The impressive range of speakers meant there was always something new to learn for all the delegates attending.

Speakers at the event (L-R): Mark Ambridge, Ollie Ambridge, Sinead McEnhill, Jameel Gardee, Lino Adolf, Simon Chard, Colin Campbell and Stephen Green

The role of digital dentistry was perfectly illustrated by one of the highlights of the symposium – a  two-part presentation by Colin Campbell and Jameel Gardee, which included a full case study on digitally planning the smile and guided implant surgery. The presentation included details of how intraoral scanning, CBCT, digital X-rays, digital photography and smartphone video were all used to provide a fully-planned, interdisciplinary case, which included the live capture of a patient’s information. In addition, the case demonstrated how to create a digital wax-up as well as the production of a milled implant surgical guide.

The case was completed on the Saturday morning when Colin described the surgical procedures and compared the relative benefits of the different guided systems used on the case.

‘There are no limitations when it comes to digital dentistry,’ Sinead McEnhill continued. ‘Whenever it’s a big or tricky case, you can plan everything with your technician. Your technician can take over any of the trickier cases.

‘What surprised me the most when digitising my practice, I got a milling machine primarily to restore implant crowns, but it was astonishing the number of patients who were willing to pay more to have an accurate in-lay using our technology. It surprised me because the revenue return was much greater in a shorter space of time. It’s easier to upsell your treatments now we have all the digital equipment. And when patients come they very much care about it and are seeking you out for accurate fillings, crowns and onlays in a day.

‘Patients love seeing it, they know you’re technology savvy and they’ll go to tell their friends. I’ve barely seen one patient who hasn’t stood beside the milling machine watching their crown being milled. Then they walk out of the practice with the crown in their mouth and without having to take another day off work.’

Jane MacRae, marketing manager at Henry Schein Dental, was delighted with the response from the profession and the industry after the symposium: ‘The Digital Symposium is the perfect vehicle for us to demonstrate the way in which the clinical solutions we offer help our customers remain at the forefront of patient care. These solutions work across numerous dental disciplines, including implants, orthodontics, endodontics, prosthodontics, laboratory services, and many more. We believe that the experience and knowledge shared at this event will show customers our commitment to help them achieve their digital vision.

‘This year’s event encapsulated a shift in the acceptance of the digital transformation and I think we can look forward to some very exciting times in the near future.’