Express Healthcare

Implant dentistry is changing the landscape of dentistry

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Dr Vimal Arora, Chief Clinical Officer, Clove Dental in an interaction with Express Healthcare highlights the importance of skill development in dentistry and need of the hour in this direction

Clove recently collaborated with Medvarsity for a fellowship program in endodontics. Can you highlight the key aspects of this collaboration?

The fellowship program with Medvarsity was initiated for skill development and skill enhancement of dentists who were unable to undertake the root canal specialty known as an endodontist.

An endodontist is a three-year degree course that involves multiple things in addition to a root canal. Nowadays, a root canal is a very conventional treatment and we do not have enough endodontists in India. The best is we can do skill enhancement and skill improvement of our dental surgeons who are qualified dentists and give them better skills in doing root canals for the masses. Under this program, we collaborated with Medvarsity wherein they will prepare the curriculum and we shall provide hands-on training from our 342 dental clinics across the country. Specialists and teaching staff are from Clove Dental and the registration of students is by Medvarsity. We have agreed to provide skill enhancement through our recognised endodontist teachers who have large experience in the field for more than 10-15 years. We are focusing on only the root canal part of skill enhancement.

What is the need of the hour as far as skill development in dentistry is concerned?

The skill development is hands-on training that enhances skills on the subject. This is very important in dentistry and moreover, given the present circumstances, it is even more critical because private colleges have a very minimal footfall and the students who have passed out from private colleges do not have adequate experience with the patient. On the other hand, government colleges with extensive patient footfall have significant teaching material for students. The last few batches passed out during the pandemic have had little to no exposure owing to the fact that dental hospitals did not have enough dental patients in OPD, but students passed out and with insufficient practical training

At the policy level, the Dental Council of India, which is the apex body in the country needs to ensure that enough teaching material is available. Dental Council must come up with shorter courses like diplomas in these fields like endodontists, cosmetic dentistry, and implantology which is a burning topic today. Every patient wants implantology and large dental clinics like Clove Dental (we are the largest in the country and 6th in the world). We hire 800-900 dentists at our level, always ready to provide skill development and share our skill resources.

Specialisation is very important in MBBS and dentistry as well. However, MDS is very expensive and not everybody can afford it. Even government fees are very high; I think the Dental Council has to come up with DCI-recognised short-term courses which is the best.

Can you highlight the latest trends and technologies that are now being used under different specialisations of dentistry? 

While dental impressions and conventional measurements techniques will always be a part of regular dentistry but digital measurements are now being used to scan the teeth taking multiple pictures which are finally put together. The advantage is, a light flickers around the teeth and captures everything without the need to touch the tooth. That is how tooth impressions are captured in the present era to make crowns, bridges, dentures, and all future appliances. Digitisation in dentistry relating to oral scanning is opening new vistas in dental research.

Secondly, implant dentistry is another aspect that is changing the landscape of dentistry. While earlier a bridge or removable dentures were used, for the past 10 to 15 years implants have started coming in with 95 per cent percent success rates. With significant improvement in implant quality, you just place an implant and forget it. Besides, you can build a crown on it as we have a number of patients these days who want to go for a full mouth crown at the age of 65 to 70 and those are permanent teeth.

The third most important fact today is the availability of invisible aligners, so conventional braces are reducing and are replaced with invisible dental aligners which are working beautifully and past 5-6 years, markets have been flooded with invisible aligners.

How orthodontics is different from regular dentistry?

The Dental Council of India has come up with a notice last September that orthodontic treatment must be done by orthodontists. Orthodontic treatment includes braces and aligners which must be done by trained orthodontists only or certified aligner specialists.

After completing BDS, you need to do a Master’s in Dental Science (MDS) for 3 years in orthodontia followed by certification courses. I personally agree with DCI that orthodontic treatment must be done by an orthodontist or certified aligner specialist.

However, only the specialised orthodontic treatment has to be done by a trained orthodontist, but scanning, taking impressions, taking X-rays, measurements can be performed by a regular dentist. The dental council is very specific that non-dentists should not take these measurements, scanning, etc.

In India, we do not have a problem with number of dental surgeons, while in foreign countries this problem is very high., (40,000 graduates).

It is not that there is less money in dentistry, if you have the required skills, definitely people will be willing to pay.

How do you see the adoption of AI and ML in dentistry?

Presently, the technology is being used in two places, our software is AI enabled-the minute a tooth decay is marked, the system immediately starts marking treatment for dental caries. Number two, we are using AI-enabled operated sterilisation which only we are doing in India where the camera is AI-enabled and measures how many times the dental assistant has cleaned the dental chair. After the required number of strokes only, the camera gives the green signal. So, Clove is using AI-enabled sterilisation maintenance. Next AI-enabled programs are used in cosmetic treatment where we take photos of the tooth and load in software after which the software gives options on what kind of crown can be used for the tooth. Next, when a patient with irregular teeth is scanned, the computer-enabled AI will show how the patient will look after one or two-year of treatment.

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