Best skill-boosting advice from an education pro
Wondering how to kick off your journey into digital dentistry? We asked Adam Nulty for some advice. Adam is the president and one of the founders of the UK-based International Digital Dental Academy (IDDA). IDDA is the educational partner for our Insights event in Mallorca and will provide CE credits to attendees from qualifying countries.*
Q: What do you recommend to people starting off in digital dentistry?
A: You need to make sure you have support. Support is key to everything. That’s the whole reason why we set up the IDDA. The organization was born out of frustration because we, as users, weren't getting the right level of support.
I would recommend buying software from someone who really understands it, who will not only provide the software and get you set up but will hold your hand or answer your questions when you need it. That's worth its weight in gold.
Q: Tell me more about the IDDA and how it began.
A: I founded the IDDA with Chris Lefkaditis, Quintus Van Tonder and Patrik Zachrisson. We developed the IDDA into a community of dentists that spans many countries with pockets of communities as far away as Australia, South America and Iceland.
Q: What types of resources does IDDA offer?
A: We provide courses worldwide at various levels from single-day and short courses, right up to level 7 accredited courses, PGCerts, diplomas and the MSC in digital dentistry. Our most recent offering is the Scan Club . With the Scan Club, instead of paying upfront for just a single course, you have a membership that gives you access to everything that we do in terms of the PGCert or the diploma and all the online material with CPD. We basically offer to hold your hand for three years in whatever you do with whatever equipment, regardless of who you purchased it from, to make sure you maximize your education in every way possible to be the very best digital dentist that you can be.
Q: How do you train labs and dentists on exocad software?
A: I’d like to announce something brand new. As resellers and education providers, we've always done single-day courses on different exocad topics like guided surgery with exoplan, but we're about to launch a longer, exocad-specific training section of the website on all different components of exocad. No matter where you are in the world, if you can't come and see us in person, then you can follow along with the online course to understand how to use the software.
IDDA produces MiniBytes, a series of short video tutorials on YouTube that answer daily clinical digital dentistry questions
Q: Do you differentiate training for dentists and lab techs?
A: Not really. There is a ChairsideCAD option for dentists that’s more specific to the chairside workflow, but we have a lot of dentists who use exocad’s DentalCAD lab software. And that's probably because there is a good portion of dentists who want to be creative on their own. They want to do simple designs themselves or work in partnership with a lab on some components of the design process. They can start the design process with the patient using Smile Creator, for instance, and share ideas with the lab using dentalshare. Then the finishing touches can be handled by a lab technician.
"We've had people we've trained who...delayed their retirement simply for the fact that they enjoy their work more by using this technology."
Q: How challenging is it to teach exocad to new users?
A: One of the nice things with exocad is that no matter which version of exocad you have, whether it's exoplan, ChairsideCAD or DentalCAD, every single protocol that you go through, every parameter and whatever you choose, you don't have to use the expert settings or be an expert to be able to work your way through them. All workflows are very intuitive so that you can follow along and get to an end result that's satisfactory without a lot of effort and without prior experience in CAD software and technology.
We've had people we've trained who are in their fifties and sixties, who were close to retiring, and they delayed their retirement simply for the fact that they enjoy their work more by using this technology. So that should give you an idea about how streamlined the workflows are for sure.
Q: How long do you recommend someone needs to get up and running with exocad software?
A: It really depends on what style of dentistry they do, what they're wanting to get out of the software, and what modules they have. One of the nice things with exocad is you don't have to buy the full software. You can buy the modules that fit you in your clinic or your lab. You can go with a more cut-down version, and you've also got the option to upgrade later on. What we provide in general is initial training on how to set up the software. We have online training videos and tutorials, which people can work through at their own leisure. But we also do occasional one-day training sessions for an introduction to exocad to really get them going and make sure they've not missed anything in terms of setting things up and getting to know some of the more advanced features.
Q: Any final advice for those starting off on their education journey?
A: Something that's free that I would definitely recommend is to get on to the International Digital Dental Academy Facebook group. There are 21,000 users of all types of technology in dentistry and labs spread throughout the world. Whenever you post a question, there's always someone somewhere with the same configuration of hardware and software. And if you need help or advice, someone in the group will answer. It's a beautiful thing to see because it usually pops up within minutes of someone asking a question. The best part is within a day or two you've got a few different answers and opinions. The digital community is an incredibly supportive one.
*CE credits at exocad Insights 2022 are available for Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Jordan, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UAE and UK.