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19 Apr 2024

Embracing digital dentistry and fostering community in dental technology 

Embracing digital dentistry and fostering community in dental technology 

Caroline Kirkpatrick is a clinical dental technician with over 20 years of experience in the dental technology industry. Specialising in technical support for implant dentists with fixed restorations, Caroline has seen a huge transformation in dental technology over the course of her career, with new technologies increasing the quality of work that dental technicians are able to achieve. During her lecture at Dental Technology Showcase (DTS) this year, Caroline will be sharing her expertise to help dental technicians introduce new softwares into their workflows, as well as hoping to inspire the next generation of dental technicians.  

As a busy clinical technician, Caroline is always on the lookout for new technologies and equipment that can help simplify workflows and improve the quality and efficiency of her work, and this will form the basis of her speaking session at DTS this year. “I recently found a new design software that we can integrate and use to create different types of solutions. When I found out about it, I was quite excited because it opened up a lot of different possibilities. Along with my co-presenter Patricia Ribera, I’ll be presenting some of the cases that we’ve been working on and we’ll even be doing a live demonstration of designing an implant bar and the various uses. We’ll be talking about the good, the bad and the ugly, and we’re hoping to open up the conversation with delegates and share some examples of when things haven’t gone quite right too, because we shouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about when things go wrong.” 

Reflecting on her career in dental technology, Caroline notes that the switch from analogue to digital has had a transformative effect on the profession. “From working in a laboratory doing everything analogue to watching technology change and advance over the years has been incredible. It’s really brought about a massive increase in the quality of what we do; it’s more consistent, we’ve got the ability to work smarter, to achieve more complex results, and to work in a nicer environment. That’s a huge thing. There are materials that you really don’t want to be working with and now we’ve got rid of a lot of these things so it’s a much more pleasant environment to work in.”  

According to Caroline, this advancement of the dental technology industry has really allowed dental technicians to carve out a new role for themselves within the dental team. “We have really upped our game when it comes to the different types of devices that we can make. As technicians, we’re problem solvers, and the new technological advancements have really helped us to be able to create that patient-focused design. But equally, I think a huge change is in our professionalism and how we, as technicians, have become an integral part of the dental team thanks to our specialist knowledge and skillset.” 

Looking ahead, Caroline believes that the future of the dental technology industry won’t be defined by any specific new technology or piece of equipment, but by the people working in the sector. “I think the new generation will have a huge impact. I see younger technicians coming through with their skills and their passion and their drive, and it’s just great. They’re not just sitting at a bench in the lab; they’re really trying to transform the industry. I’ll be representing Nightshift at DTS. It’s a wonderful group that is bringing people together and encouraging technicians like me to get a bit more involved in the community. I think what they’re doing is amazing. I’m usually someone who likes to be in the background of things, but they’ve encouraged me and others to share our knowledge, and we can all do it. There are so many new techniques and advancements in dental technology, and if more people are encouraged share and pass on that information, then we’re all going to be able to learn faster and support each other.” 

The community aspect of DTS is another element that Caroline is looking forward to. “There is lots to learn at DTS and there are some interesting and varied talks that I’m planning to go and listen to. But I’m also looking forward to meeting people in person who I’ve got to know online. It’s just nice to talk to colleagues in a nice, relaxed environment where you’ve not got ten cases piling up behind you that you’ve got to get finished before the end of the day.”  

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