Lino Adolf, dental technician and managing director of the Academy of Digital Dentistry, talks candidly about the importance of education to technicians and the role they can play in widening the reach of digital dentistry

Not immediately thought of as an evangelist, Lino Adolf nevertheless has a reputation as one of the world’s leading dental technicians. As such, his decision to establish the Academy of Digital Dentistry in 2013 was a moment when the technical world sat up and took notice. As an early adopter of digital techniques, Lino had recognised the possibilities of the then new technology, and as his knowledge and expertise grew, he came to appreciate the thirst of dentists and technicians who wanted to enhance their learning in this new and exciting sphere.

The Academy of Digital Dentistry delivers educational and practical courses for both dentists and technicians, enabling each side of the relationship to better understand the needs of the other, and so achieve the finest possible patient outcomes.

As an authorised Academy the training is supported in conjunction with Dentsply Sirona and this, together with the fact that training is delivered only by certified Sirona trainers, has enabled the Academy to establish itself as one of the UK’s premier digital dentistry training centres. To become a certified trainer, an individual must have been using the system for at least two years, and candidates are recommended to the certification board and then invited to join. These strict procedures ensure that the training provided through the Academy is of the very highest quality and that dentists and technicians are consistently taught good habits by some of the leading practitioners in their respective fields.

Education

Lino, himself a certified Dentsply Sirona Trainer, says, ‘When dentists and technicians start to diversify, they need to understand two things: firstly, the materials and equipment with which they are working; and secondly their own limitations, which are constrained mostly by a lack of knowledge. Education solves both of these challenges; it expands the possibilities of what individuals can achieve and informs them of the options available through material advances.’

In the UK, the dental industry’s digital education is currently positioned towards the clinician, a reflection of the difference in numbers between technicians and dentists, but laboratory training follows the same rigorous Dentsply Sirona training protocols as clinical education. The launch of the inEos X5 extraoral scanner in 2013 propelled Dentsply Sirona to the forefront of labside digital provision and Lino suggests this has created a shift in emphasis between the clinical and the technical.

He says, ’The perception now is that technicians’ use of digital is as important as dentists’ adoption of Cerec. This change in emphasis is very important to me as a technician and I’m sure to the technical market in general.’

Through the Academy, technicians are offered two different training options. New user training, taken within a couple of months of installation, is a one-day course concentrating on inLab software and the capabilities of the system overall. Advanced training meanwhile, focuses on more complex cases and includes an assessment of the materials and their appropriate selection for each case. Laboratories usually start to search for an advanced course around a year after installation.

Lino first adopted CAD/CAM in 1998 and chose to work with Dentsply Sirona in 2009. He made this choice because the quality of their equipment and materials was amazing, as he confirmed, saying, ‘I felt that they [Dentsply Sirona] were the real innovators in this field and the company most likely to provide solutions that would continue to challenge the boundaries of what is possible with digital restorative dentistry. The diversity of material choices is second to none and there is excellent compatibility of materials across the range. This means that as a technician I have complete freedom of choice and confidence in the materials I am using. I know they have been well researched and that they have the credibility of evidence to support the claims made about them.’

Digital future

Having worked with a fully digital workflow for almost 20 years, Lino feels that despite the expansion of digital techniques, the profession remains sceptical of its application. Although there has been a definite shift in attitude and perception in the last five years, there is still much room for improvement. Despite this, Lino is confident that digital dentistry, on both sides of the equation, has a key role to play in the future. He says, ‘Dental laboratories are worried about the investment, but to me they are looking at this on a micro level. They are not looking at the bigger picture. I use these techniques because they provide more predictable results in the most efficient way possible. And to those who question the quality and accuracy, I ask them to look at my portfolio of case studies and tell me that digital dentistry has no role to play in the provision of outstanding dentistry.’

For Lino, education and its dissemination is key. For both dentists and technicians he believes that to be a better practitioner of a particular skill requires learning and the sharing of knowledge with those who have more experience. A lack of knowledge leads to frustration and that, in turn, can lead to unfair criticism of systems and materials.

‘If the system is not used correctly, it is not fair to condemn it. As a training provider, I consider it to be my role to educate the market about the learning pathways that need to be travelled to become truly competent with digital dentistry. Technicians also have an important educational role to play with their clients. It is in the interest of labs that are fully realising the efficiencies of a digital workflow, to teach and educate their clients and encourage them to adopt the technology.’

Digital dentistry has transformed the way in which Lino works and interacts with his clients. It has expanded the capacity of his laboratory and enabled him to take on many more cases than were possible using analogue techniques. It has also made a huge difference to the workflow as he now views intraoral scans on his phone or mobile device, enabling him to respond immediately to his clients, often whilst the patient is still in the chair.

‘Whether I am in the lab or on the move, the quality of the scans, even on a mobile phone, are quite amazing and are rendered in high enough quality to see even the smallest detail, for example, on the gingival margins.’

Lino’s vision is to help laboratories convince their dentists of the benefits of digital dentistry, so increasing the propagation of the techniques and the broadening of the appeal of digital dentistry as a means of increasing efficiency and improving patient satisfaction.

To see a range of courses please visit the Academy of Digital Dentistry website www.academyofdigitaldentistry.com

To find out more about Cerec Omnicam and to book an Explore Omnicam session for your laboratory visit www.explorecerec.co.uk