Moving to digital

Queue for dental care? Or Kew Dental Care? This private practice in south west London is reaping the benefits of an investment in digital imaging as principal David Callaghan tells Stephen Hancocks.

David Callaghan and his wife Naseema started Kew Dental Care in 2001 as a cold start up. They had both been in a practice in Winchester prior to this, and David as an associate in Newbury after qualifying. Their aim was to create a family practice that offered a wide range of treatments and services at the highest level of quality and care. They began as a mixed NHS and private practice but decided after a couple of years that the type of service they wanted to provide, and most enjoyed providing, was one where there was time to devote to the patients, therefore choosing the private route.

Investing in technology

They have always strived to provide the best and most up-to-date services and equipment but had held back for a long time on digital imaging. David had been researching the equipment available for some time, figuring that as an investment in respect of financial, staff training and patient adaptation time he needed to make the correct choice. Interestingly, and perhaps against what is often thought of as the modern way, he preferred to make the choice at a dental exhibition where he could get the ‘feel’ of the system. ‘I attended the Stars Of Dentistry symposia which I thought was excellent in terms of both the clinical content of the lecture and the selection of trade supporters. The guys at the Durr stand were brilliant,’ recalled David ‘no sales pressure, no hard talking, just very knowledgeable, calm and helpful. I purchased one of their panoramic machines. It uses S-Pan technology, which is diffe to other models on the market.  An extremely large number of parallel layers are segmented and the system automatically selects the image parts which best match the actual anatomy of the patient. The result is an image with impressive clarity. Since the reconstruction is geared at the actual position of the bite, incorrect positioning is, within reasonable limits, eliminated.’

He confides that he was dreading the installation, possibly one of the reasons for procrastinating, but in the event says that it couldn’t have gone more smoothly both on the day and in operation since. Reluctant to make the move to digital having ‘grown up’ on the traditional ways of developing and fixing, David’s only regret now is not having made the move earlier. ‘The thing is that everybody benefits. We have a panoramic unit and the intra-oral scanner so together they provide all the views we need for the comprehensive range of treatments we are able to offer. Patients benefit by receiving a lower dose of radiation and we make sure that we explain this to them carefully. No one has objected! Plus they get to see the images instantly; they are generally very impressed. As indeed I am.’

Benefits and education

For the dental team too, the advantages were quickly appreciated. No messy and smelly chemical tanks to be cleaned out on a regular basis and the electronic storage means no hard copy filing and a saving on space, always valuable in a practice that is continually moving with the times and expanding its services.

To help with this David completed a Masters in restorative dentistry through distance learning, offered by UCLAN (University of Lancashire). ‘This is another example of how the digital and electronic age has had such a great effect on the delivery of dentistry’ he explains. ‘Being able to study whilst still practising facilitated a process which would probably just not have been possible otherwise. Giving up income to travel and study would have been very difficult, especially with a young family, but using the internet, as well as attending for some hands-on days made it all possible.’

Would David recommend this to other colleagues? ‘Absolutely, the range of post-graduate education that has blossomed in the last ten years or so, and has made it so much easier, more accessible and given me and I am sure others, opportunities to make my clinical skills more refined and more satisfying. To be honest it is the clinical work that I enjoy most. Naseema is wonderful at running the practice and with so much more regulation, inspection and legislation she takes the pressure off me so that I can continue with the clinical work which really appeals to me.

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