How a dysfunctional restoration can deprogram the body

April 19, 2024

How would you feel if midway into your career you had a moment that challenged everything you’d learned? Master Dental Technician Edris Rasta said an encounter with a top dentist in the Netherlands did that for him. After seeing this dentist’s workflow, he realized function was the key to creating the best restorations. A lifelong learner and top international speaker, Edris is bringing his expertise to the Insights stage in Mallorca. He shares some personal history, big thoughts and expert tips for delivering successful restorations.

Q: Can you share some of your background? How did you first get started in dentistry?

A: I was born in Afghanistan. When I was 19, my parents sent me over to the Netherlands. We have a lot of dentists and clinicians in the family. I was actually an artist. I was always painting and doing calligraphy. That was my passion. But my parents told me I should study so that I could make a living. So when I came to Holland, I first went to visit my uncle’s dental clinic.

Q: Was that your first exposure to the dental field? Through your uncle?

A: Yes, I went and thought, this is a nice environment, but people don't go voluntarily to the dentist. When they go, they have pain. I was sitting there, I heard the drill, and I asked myself, ‘What am I doing here?’  Suddenly my uncle came up to me and said, ‘Let’s go to the lab. I need to get a crown.’ I didn't know what a lab or a crown were. We went downstairs. He opened the door, and I saw a ceramist with a model in his hand. He had a brush and some ceramics. And I immediately said, ‘Wow, this is so beautiful, what are you doing?’ He said, ‘I'm building up a crown, and then I will put it in the furnace, bake it, and it will go in someone’s mouth.’

To see him make something new out of nothing was amazing. I decided that I wanted to do this. Then when I came to Holland as a refugee for the first time, I started an internship at a dental lab. After two months, they offered me a job and school. This was my journey into dentistry.

Q: How did you decide what to specialize in as a dental technician?

A: I started in fixed restorations because that’s where they needed me, but I knew I wanted to get into ceramics. I stayed longer in the evenings to bake and glaze ceramics. I could see the colors and the shape. My uncle in Germany then invited me to join him, my cousin, and my nephew in a new clinic with me as the ceramist. I was happy there, but there wasn’t enough challenge, so I decided to come back and work in Holland in a ceramics department where the work was a bit more varied and complex. This lab was very modern, and they put a big focus on esthetics. In 2012, I heard about how Dr. Martijn Moolenaar, one of the best dentists in Holland, needed a ceramist. I wondered what made him the best, so I went to his office to meet with him.

“In a fraction of maybe two minutes, I realized that everything I had learned before was wrong.”

Q: And were you convinced that he was one of the best?

A: He took me to his office, just four rooms, very small. He said, ‘Our work here is customized, and we make everything to size.’ He took me to a small lab. For the first time, I saw for every patient two models in the articulator in the right bite. I had heard about functionality, durability, and longevity, but the moment I saw the workflow, I realized this was the right way to work. In a fraction of maybe two minutes, I realized that everything I had learned before was wrong.

Q: How did that impact your trajectory as a dental technician?

A: It was a very sad moment for me. For Dr. Moolenaar, there is no esthetic. Esthetics are a result of functionality. If something doesn't look naturally nice, it means something is wrong. That was his philosophy. I decided to push myself to learn more about biology, about dentistry, to make my technical work more precise.

Q: How did learning more about biology change your work as a technician?

A: It helped me better understand functionality. I now understand the muscles of mastication and the bones. You start from one tooth and go to the nerve system and airways. It's unbelievably complex, but very interesting because you see everything is connected. If you miss one part, everything you do after that is wrong. Over the last decade, I’ve studied dentistry, orthodontic treatment, and gnathology. Gnathology is the working of the muscles and bones, and how they move. Now I'm busy with the airway, which is very important. 

“Small restorations can be much more complex than big restorations. If a restoration is not good, you deprogram the whole body.”

Q: What lessons have you taken away from your studies?

A: Small restorations can be much more complex than big restorations. If a restoration is not good, you deprogram the whole body—the muscles, and the entire chewing pattern starts to change. By making one small mistake in the human body, you can change everything drastically. My business partner and I do everything based on functionality.

Q: Okay, let’s turn to exocad for a moment. How long have you been using exocad’s DentalCAD?

A: Four or five years.

Q: How did you first find out about exocad software?

A: The company I was working for at the time was searching for software. They had been using a different design software and then introduced me to exocad’s DentalCAD. Because exocad software is developed with the needs of the technician in mind, it has more capabilities.

Q: What is your favorite exocad software tool?

A: I like using Smile Creator for smile design because of all the calculations and measurements that are included. I also use CBCT scans as part of my smile design process. You can really delve into anatomical physiology with exocad, a task that is unfeasible to perform manually.

Q: Speaking of smile design, do you have any tips to improve smile design proposals?

A: Every technician or dentist needs to be trained in dental photography. We need to place importance on the accuracy of photos so we can better measure anatomy, and anatomy means the size of the head and the mandible and everything. By taking the right pictures and importing them into the software, we can measure everything.

If you look at the studies and see, for example, that the average length of the ramus should be between 65 and 70, and then you measure and see a patient’s is too short or too long, you can find the mismatch. You figure out, OK, that's why we have this kind of occlusion.

Q: You’ll be joining us at Insights in Mallorca this May as one of the mainstage speakers. Can you give us a preview of what you’ll be discussing?

A:  I'm going to talk about how digital tools are changing the way we understand occlusion and discuss using CBCT scans and photography for measurement because there is a lot of information that can be used in case planning. And I know a lot of people only are using 20 percent of what exocad software can do.

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Edris talks about creating fully digital, fully functional restorations at exocad Insights 2024

Q: What’s your favorite tooth?

A: All of them. Every tooth has a function. It’s a system. If I picked one it would be a purely esthetic choice, which is not the right answer.

Q: If you could give advice to your younger self, what would you say?

A: I think I needed to walk this path to be where I am. I would say, stay curious about things. Make the most out of the moment.

Q: When I say exocad, what's the first word that comes to mind?

A: Predictability.

exoBlog Bio Image Edris Rasta

Edris Rasta is a distinguished clinical dental technician in the field of complex functional and restorative dentistry, particularly in ceramics. His exceptional expertise lies in the delivery of high-quality restorations that exhibit a remarkably natural appearance. As a renowned figure, Edris has contributed to the global dental community through a series of lectures, talks, workshops, and training sessions. Central to his outstanding practice is his commitment to fostering open communication with both fellow dentists and patients. Follow Edris’ work on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

by Caitlan Reeg
Writer at exocad

Caitlan Reeg spends her days telling the world about the innovations her colleagues create. She’s passionate about healthcare, technology, and the ways the two interact to improve our lives. A former journalist, Caitlan has worked on staff at Dow Jones Newswires in Frankfurt and at the national public radio program Marketplace in Los Angeles.