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Dr Cecilie Terjesen was one of 24 women from seven different nations to be honoured with Dentsply Sirona’s first Smart Integration Award for visionary treatment concepts in 2019. Terjesen, who works at the dental practice A1 Tannlegen in Arendal in Norway, received the award for her forward-looking ideas related to digital duplication. She spoke with Dentsply Sirona about her professional background, changes in the dental industry, and her ideas about technology and the future of the dental practice.
Dr Terjesen, you were awarded the Smart Integration Award by Dentsply Sirona in 2019. What made you decide to participate?
I did not think I would win but just decided to give it a go. Like always, Dentsply Sirona was very organised and everything was very well coordinated. I enjoyed the award ceremony and the courses involved. It was great to meet new people and make new connections, especially with other women in the field of dentistry. Previously, I had attended several events with more men than women, so this time it was very nice to be at an event that hosted mainly women. It helped me to connect with other female dentists and make new friends. I became acquainted with a dentist from Germany and another from Finland, and the three of us decided to meet again after the ceremony; however, owing to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, it was not possible. Another reason for my application was because Dentsply Sirona is at the forefront of development in dentistry, and I enjoy working with them.
What kind of dental practice do you work in?
I am not employed at the practice as such. I pay rent, and I also have private patients. The two owners, who are also dentists, look after everything else, such as financial arrangements. There are four dentists in total in the practice. We also have five support staff members, one of whom does administrative work. The other four do clinical work.
Our focus is on high quality dental care, the use of new technologies and staying up to date with techniques. We only treat adult patients, mainly those 20 years of age and older. There are no upper age restrictions, but once patients move into rest homes, we no longer treat them because then the public health care system takes over.
How is the practice equipped?
One of the owners works closely with Dentsply Sirona, and we have nearly all the Dentsply Sirona equipment. Currently we have six Treatment Centers (four Sirona C2+ and two Teneo) plus two Primescans, one Primemill, one inLab MC XL, one MC X, one SpeedFire, one Orthophos XG (CBCT, panoramic radiograph) and many smaller items of equipment, most of which comes from Dentsply Sirona.
“It helped me to connect with other female dentists”
Do you have a dental specialisation?
No, I am a general dentist. I studied dentistry at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow in Poland and graduated in 2017. I studied in the Faculty of Medicine and took the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) programme in English. Krakow was really a great city to study in. It is in the heart of Europe, and this situation provides many opportunities for travel. I made new friends from all over the world.
Does digitalisation play a major role in dentistry in Norway? And how important is the topic of digitalisation in dentistry for you, personally, and in your practice?
In Norway, it is playing a greater and greater role. In my daily working life, it plays a major and natural role, owing to the well-equipped clinic. I have never had to take conventional impressions, as I started with digital ones right away. Therefore, working digitally feels very natural to me. However, I am not sure whether my everyday life reflects that of everyone else and whether it represents a cross section of Norwegian dentistry. I was very lucky with my practice because the owners are happy to invest. This makes my work life easier and has also great benefits for my patients—for example, when they receive their crown within one day. They often talk about it with other people, which provides good word of mouth recommendations for us.
“Regarding digitalisation and COVID-19, scanning is crucial”
How did your work and dentistry change with COVID-19 in relation to patient care and the role of digitalisation in dentistry? Does digitalisation now play an even greater role?
Yes, in March 2020 everything had to close down. We could only do emergency dentistry work and had fewer patients. After two months, practices gradually opened again. We had to make some changes in the practice. We screened the patients and made every effort to ensure their safety. We also made some changes to the procedures. We scheduled more time between patients for cleaning and increased the use of personal protective equipment such as face shields and head covers. Most of our patients felt safe with us, as we already had protective measures against other viruses—such as HIV—in place. However, some patients still decided not to schedule a treatment. It was hard in the beginning, but we adapted, and now things are going well again.
Regarding digitalisation and COVID-19, scanning is crucial. Conventional moulds have to be placed in a patient’s mouth and then sent to a laboratory, which is not hygienic and carries the risk of infection. Digital scans are faster, easier and carry no infection risk at all. In addition, the patient experience is good, which helps us to obtain good word of mouth recommendations. For us as dentists, it is also less risky and more interesting because it opens up new work opportunities and facilitates collaborative work.
What are your special interests and focus topics in dentistry?
Since I started in a practice that had the CEREC system, this has been one of my special interests. I had to learn how to use it and how to get the most out of it, and together with a good mentor and colleague, Dr Jan Kirkedam, I have presented a few hands-on basic CEREC courses here in Norway. This is something I have really enjoyed, but it is also a little scary, as you expose to other dentists the extent of your knowledge: what you know and also what you still need to learn. My interest in periodontics has recently been growing, and pursuing this field would mean three more years of study.
Do you have any special goals within dentistry?
I really enjoy learning new things, so one of my goals is to learn more and to participate in more courses abroad. I also enjoy staying up to date in dentistry and following new trends. I think there are many interesting new techniques to learn, and I am looking forward to that part of my career.
Editorial note: Dentsply Sirona is inviting interested female dentists and dental technicians to submit their ideas and insights on designing efficient and comfortable workflows in dentistry for the Smart Integration Award until 28 June. More information on the award and how to apply can be found at dentsplysirona.com/en/smart-integration-award.