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Embracing the evolution of digital dentistry

September 06, 2019

By Kimber Solana

Only a handful of hands had went up when Dr. Miguel Stanley asked his audience how many of them have used an intraoral scanner.

"How about who has never used an IOS scanner?" he asked.

Photo of Dr. Stanley speaking at New Dentist Conference
Keynote: Dr. Miguel Stanley discussed how consumer expectations and digital dentistry are shaping the future of dentistry. Photos by EZ Event Photography
This time, a majority of the attendees on Thursday's New Dentist Conference — the first day of the two-day event — raised their hands.

"OK guys," he said. "That's got to change. That scanner gives you access [to patients]."

Dr. Stanley, the conference's first keynote speaker, explored how consumer expectations and digital dentistry, along with the sharing economy of the profession, are shaping the future of dentistry.

"We have a moral responsibility to treat our patients with the best scientific evidence, clinical evidence, and technology and materials available to them — not the technology from 20 years ago," said Dr. Stanley, creator of the No Half Smiles philosophy and the Slow Dentistry concept. He also hosted the first National Geographic documentary on dentistry.

Nearly 140 new dentists — those who graduated from dental school less than 10 years ago — registered for the annual event. And most came to hear Dr. Stanley share his philosophies on the global community of dentistry, dental artistry versus profit, and how digital dentistry is changing patients' lives.

"[Dr. Stanley was] very charismatic," said Dr. Hashim Gibril, of Bloomfield, Connecticut. "The public and dentists need to understand how technology is progressing the field. Dr. Stanley is on the right path in motivating dentists to do that."

More things have happened in the last five years in dental technologies, Dr. Stanley said, than in the last 300 years, citing the advent of virtual reality to augmented vision microscopes."It's changing the way we're learning and the way we're communicating," he said.

Photo of New Dentist Conference attendees
Learning opportunity: Drs. Zainah Shaker, left, of St. Paul, Minnesota, and Sara Stuefen, of Vinton, Iowa, listen at the New Dentist Conference Thursday.
However, despite the advances and the need for dentists to embraces the changes, Dr. Stanley underscored to the audience that technology does not necessarily make one a better dentist.

"The first 10 years is tough," he said. "I've had a lot of trials and tribulations in my profession. And the one thing that saved me is doing the right thing by my patients. Not marketing, not Facebook, not Instagram — dentistry."

Thursday's New Dentist Conference also included breakout sessions for continuing education and the New Dentist Reception at Tabletop Tap House.

Today's New Dentist Conference will include the 10 under 10 award recognition and a keynote address by Marko Vujicic, Ph.D., titled "The Generational Shift: 5 Things Dentists Need to Know About the Changing Dental Patient." Dr. Vujicic will bring attendees the latest and greatest data showing the shifting paradigm young dentists are going to grapple with in their careers.

Dr. Vujicic is chief economist and vice president of the ADA's Health Policy Institute, where he is responsible for overseeing all policy research activities.

"Dentistry is such a fascinating and growing field," said Dr. Simiade Fabiyi, of San Francisco, a 2015 graduate of  the University of California San Francisco School of Dentistry. "It is refreshing to have dentists from all around the world come together for one cause: providing honest and integral care to those in need."