Digital technologies have revolutionized the work processes in dental practices, clinics, the industry and dental laboratories. It is already foreseeable that in the coming years the networked digital workflow will cover all dental areas. For this reason, Prof. Dr med. dent. Bernd Kordass from the Greifswald University in Germany feels it is essential to raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities of digitization in the dental field and to motivate users in practices and in laboratories to develop their professional skills further. Find out more in the following interview.
Professor Kordass, digitization has now also captured the dental world. Are today's dentists well prepared for this?
Prof. Dr. Bernd Kordass: Some dentists have already dealt with this topic intensively and are already working digitally. The majority however, is still sceptical and cautious. In my opinion, it is obvious that there is no way around digitization in dentistry. It is therefore inevitable that we have to take this important topic into consideration.
What is your advice to dentists?
Prof. Dr. Bernd Kordass: I encourage them to overcome any reservations and fears and to openly address the topic. To check whether digitization is suitable for their future plans, and, if the results are positive, to integrate this technology into their own practice or laboratory. In addition, it enables dentists and dental technicians to specialize, giving them the opportunity to differentiate themselves from other practices and laboratories.
I advise anyone who has decided to begin with digitization to act professionally, for example, by taking part in the relevant training courses and further education courses. This is the only way to become an expert.
How is the topic digitization handled whilst studying dentistry?
Prof. Dr. Bernd Kordass: Unfortunately, here in Germany it still isn’t given the importance it should have, bearing in mind its present and, above all, future relevance, in my opinion. At the University of Greifswald, the students produce CAD/CAM milled restorations up to their exam and insert them into the patient’s mouth. In order for this to be possible, we had to change the training programs in the pre-clinical study section. But there’s no doubt about it: In the area of university education, this topic is still taking baby steps.
In Germany, there is a study course called "Digital Dental Technology". What is that exactly?
Prof. Dr. Bernd Kordass: It is a master study program at the University of Greifswald - a further education and professional study program in dentistry that is aimed at those interested in digital dental technology. With this, we aim to address all those in the dental trade who are essentially associated with the development and implementation of the "digital workflow", in particular:
- Dentists, who either already work with or plan to integrate digital technology into their practice and laboratory,
- Engineers and management experts with relevance to dental technology and
- Qualified and skilled dental technicians with experience.
Teaching will take place nationwide and mainly in weekend modules with the experts on site. In order to deepen and make practical use of the information taught, a home assignment is given in each module. The study course can be completed in 2½ years, parallel to full-time employment and independent of location. The graduates conclude with an internationally recognized university degree: You will achieve a Master of Science, according to ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System). Every participant who successfully passes this program has invested in a future-oriented professional qualification.
There are similar initiatives in other countries. Here, there are also opportunities to learn more about this topic.
Another must-read by Prof. Dr Kordass can be found in the latest Reflect issue entitled "Digital Dentistry: How virtual jaw measurements make prosthetics more efficient".