Interview: How the dentist and dental technician can become a successful dental team
These two are an excellent, well-established dental team: Dentist, Prof. Dr Irena Sailer, and Master Dental Technician, Vincent Fehmer, work together successfully at the University Hospital in Geneva/Switzerland. Together, they research and find innovative treatment methods by exploring new technologies and concepts. Digital dentistry plays an important role. In addition, both experts present themselves in international congresses and training courses. In the interview, they describe what it takes to be a good dental team and what matters when it comes to dentists and dental technicians working together. Read more!
How long have you been working together?
Prof. Dr Irena Sailer: Since 2009, so more than eight years now.
(How) has your cooperation enhanced your understanding each other’s needs and working methods?
Vincent Fehmer: Our understanding for each other has changed drastically. Even greater so since our closer proximity. Our laboratory and clinic are next to each other. We have very short distances. This enables us to discuss all details with one another and examine and view things together. With certain working steps, both in the laboratory and in the practice, we are both present and are able to discuss acute problems directly – for example during a try-in at the patient.
Prof. Dr Irena Sailer: In particular, right at the beginning when we were highly involved with the optical impression, this close cooperation helped to significantly broaden our horizons. Today however, it is more a matter of material diversity and new indications for monolithic restorations. Other main factors are correct preparation methods, the necessary space requirements, in particular for minimally invasive reconstructions, and digital diagnostics.
Do you always agree, or are there any controversial discussions about the correct procedure, the materials to be used, etc.?
Vincent Fehmer: No, of course we aren’t always of the same opinion. It’s like everything in life. But that also makes it exciting – otherwise it wouldn’t be such fun.
Prof. Dr Irena Sailer: Of course, on the one hand we try to maintain our own defined systematic criteria. On the other hand, there are also borderline areas where various solutions are possible. Our views and opinions can differ.
In your opinion, what makes a good dental team? What matters when it comes to a cooperation between dentists and dental technicians?
Both: Respect and understanding for each other is essential. The same applies for communication as equals. Of course, the chemistry also has to be right.
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In everyday working life: How can the cooperation between dentist and dental technician be improved?
Vincent Fehmer: In my opinion, dental technicians should focus more on continuing their education, and with that I don’t mean taking part in a lecture or workshop to create beautiful ceramic work. They should be open to learning about the facts that dentists have to deal with.
Prof. Dr Irena Sailer: In addition, communication and exchanging data are essential. Thanks to digitalization - emails, apps - it’s no problem today. Unfortunately, many possibilities are not used.
Both: In summary, it can be said: Both sides should put more emphasis on targeted team training.
What will cooperation look like in the future, in the light of the next few years of digitalization?
Vincent Fehmer: I see great potential for dental technology in future - also with digital dentistry. In my opinion, this doesn’t only apply to the actual reconstruction work but also on a consultative level. This means that: With all the new materials and possibilities that are already available to us, we dental technicians have a huge advantage with our know-how – and therefore we have a lot to bring to the dental team.
Prof. Dr Irena Sailer: Also essential groundwork, from the diagnosis of tooth-borne reconstructions up to the preparation for guided surgery is very important.
Professor Sailer, Mr Fehmer, we thank you for this interview.
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Prof. Dr Irena Sailer is head of the Division for fixed prosthetics and biomaterials at the University of Geneva. In 2003, she became a senior physician at the clinic for crown and bridge prosthetics, partial prosthetics and dental material studies at the University of Zurich/Switzerland. In 2010, she became a private lecturer, 2012 scientific head of department at the clinic for crown and bridge prosthetics, partial prosthetics and dental material science. She holds a visiting professorship in the United States.
Master Dental Technician Vincent Fehmer has been working at the clinic for fixed prosthetics and biomaterials at the University of Geneva since 2015. He also runs his own dental laboratory in Lausanne (both in Switzerland). He successfully completed his apprenticeship in dental technology from 1998 to 2002 in Stuttgart/Germany. Amongst other places, he also worked in dental laboratories in Great Britain and in the US.