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Louis Mackenzie: filling the gaps in dental innovations

18 March 2016

Louis Mackenzie: filling the gaps in dental innovations

Alice Bowe caught up with Clinical Innovations speaker Louis Mackenzie to talk composites, digital impressions and taking the "leap of faith" into new technologies.

General dental practitioner, author and award-winning lecturer Louis Mackenzie has witnessed many changes in dentistry over the last 26 years. But for him, some of the most exciting have occurred only recently. His strong links with some of the world's biggest dental research companies have allowed Louis to apply cutting-edge dental materials and equipment to his practice in Selly Park, Birmingham. And this year, he will be taking the opportunity to share this experience at the Clinical Innovations Conference, providing delegates with the knowledge and skills they need to incorporate new technologies into their own practice.

A “giant leap forward.”

So, which dental innovations have the potential to shape dentistry in the future? For Louis, there are two exciting areas.  First, is the use of scanning for digital impressions, a technology that can transform the way in which indirect restorative procedures are performed; scans of a patient’s mouth can be sent to a machine within the surgery to mill precise restorations that can then be cemented in place all in the same appointment.

But Louis’s main interest is posterior composite fillings, a procedure that in his experience can be extremely rewarding for both patients and clinicians.

Composite restoration is a field that has been developing rapidly: “In the last few years we’ve had the biggest leaps forward in 3 decades.” The latest giant leap forward Louis puts down to SonicFill, a product that increases the amount of composite material that can be injected in one increment. This simplifies the procedure for clinicians, saving time, and making the processes less technique-sensitive.

“Usually with dentistry the minute you speed up, quality drops. But with these technologies you can do them more quickly, with no loss of quality.”

Despite posterior composite materials having been around for the last 25 years, Louis feels that there are still some knowledge and experience gaps to fill. The main drawback of posterior composites, he explains, is that they are technique-sensitive—success is dependent on the skills of the operator, as well as the materials and equipment they use. Although bulk fills such as SonicFill are making the process considerably less technique-sensitive, “they’re still not in universal use.”

Much of this resistance from clinicians to try new techniques Louis puts down to predictability. Dental professionals and patients need to know that something is going to work “first time, every time,” and if they’re getting good results using existing methods they may be reluctant to try new ones. 

Taking the “leap of faith.”

An important part of Louis’s job, he says, is to make clinicians “aware of the benefits of these materials and encouraging them to take the leap of faith to try new technologies.” And key to him being able to do this is his experience using these new technologies in practice. “I’m a practising dentist. I never talk about anything I haven’t used myself and that I don’t really like,” he told us. “So, I feel totally confident in talking about these technologies because I know they work. I know the advantages and most of the disadvantages and I try and help dentists make their lives easier, and improve patient care along the way.” 

Why Clinical Innovations?

Louis sees events such as Clinical Innovations as an invaluable way for dental professionals to not only hear about new technologies but to try them out for themselves. “It’s always nice at Clinical Innovations because you’ve always got a trade show as well,” he said. “Dentists are practical people, so if you hear about something it’s nice to be able to go and try it out immediately and make the decision for yourself.” It is this practical aspect that Louis finds so valuable at such events, “you can’t master operative dentistry from a textbook or from a video or from a lecture, you learn it by doing it.” 

Louis will be presenting his lecture, “Problem solving with posterior composites,” on Saturday 21st May 2016 at Clinical Innovations. To find out more about the conference, including how to book your place, please click here

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