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Interview: Teaching photography

Nathalie Schüller, DTI

Nathalie Schüller, DTI

Mon. 3. September 2018


Dr Pier Carlo Frabboni, from Bologna, specialises in implantology and aesthetic dentistry. From dentistry to photography, one might feel those are two separate disciplines, but when it comes to digital and aesthetic dentistry, one field cannot exist without the other. In this interview, he speaks about how he combines all of these in his courses.

Dr Frabboni, you specialise in implantology and all that relates to aesthetic dentistry. You have now been teaching photography as well. Why the interest in teaching?
I have always had an interest in photography and, because the nature of my work is focused on the aesthetic aspects of dentistry, photography could not be left out.

It seems that I have some talent as a photographer and I wanted to be able to make dentists aware of what they can do with photography.

I started teaching some years ago and realised that it could be an opportunity for me. The possibilities available with commercial photography are huge.

I am curious about some of the quotes I read in your course booklet, “Smile architecture is my passion, the smile of the soul is my mission” and “I build up one smile at a time”, as well as “Psychological and emotional patient involvement”. Can you tell me why they are important to you?
I loved these phrases because I realised five to eight years ago that the smile makeover - the beauty that we can reach when we treat patients - is not only a matter of skill and is not only technical. You can learn techniques, but I found that the core of my treatments is the emotional aspect: what I can change, the journey with the patient, what it brings to him or her, his or her increase in self-esteem. It became the part of the treatment that I began to prefer and crave for.

Of course, you are able to make a tremendous contribution to your patients’ well-being, aren’t you?
Exactly! The changes for them are incredible - their life and social interactions all change because they become more confident.

I want to work with people who trust me and come to me for a new smile. I find that it becomes not only a smile of the face, it becomes a smile of the soul. What I can give my patients is really life-changing; it “unveils their hidden smile”.

Do you then focus in your office on smile design only?
No, I also provide oral and periodontal aesthetics, so I take care of all the different aspects of the face’s beauty. I focus on the mouth, and also work with aesthetic surgeons and orthodontists. A complete team comes together to take care of the smile.

I have noticed that more and more dentists recognise the need to collaborate with other specialists within dentistry and are willing to do so. Is that something new to you?
We have a need and will to collaborate. As an aesthetic dentist or someone doing everything in the aesthetic area, I think that Dr Christian Coachman started a new age when it comes to the emotional approach to the patient, developing the treatment plan in collaboration with the patient and not just as someone you treat. The idea is good. I think we are talking about multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary treatments, and so dentists should collaborate in order for the outcomes to be the best possible.

In Italy, dentists are generally not aware of the possibilities photography can give them in the digital planning process - the aesthetic tools, the digital workflow making their work easier. When I teach my courses, I always ask how many people use a camera for diagnosis, to plan and to change things. The answer is usually only about 10 per cent of them. Therefore, there is indeed a huge need to deliver this information.

I think it is important to know and see the tools available. The patient can see the movement in the mouth. The power you have when you can show and when patients can see the improvement, it brings case treatments to another level. To see 90 per cent of the results there on the screen even before the treatment begins is just amazing.

Are most of the dentists attending your courses Italian?
No, I have an international following that came to find me. Having groups that are international brings interactions that are more open-minded.

There are many courses available, but sometimes they do not focus on specific needs. In my course, we look at digital planning. I try to cover the complete journey of photography with digital planning involving mock-ups and patients’ involvement with their videos, as well as treatment with veneers, to be able to follow all the steps.

It is not only my job, but something I love as well. I like treating people and I love to train and show dentists how to capture nice shots and obtain photos of patients in a simple way. It is not necessary to have a big professional studio or use expensive equipment. There are many possibilities to obtain more or less the same results.

Is there a requirement of basic photography knowledge to attend your courses?
Of course, if you have a basic knowledge it helps, but it is not a requirement. I start by covering basic settings of the cameras and information about photography. So, after two days, the participants can shoot good photos.

Do you have an interest in teaching general photography one day or in exploring other fields besides dentistry?
So far, I have focused on dentistry, but I have started taking photos of dental offices. It can only be a plus for a dentist to be able to present his office in a beautiful way.

I also shoot architecture and design. The possibilities are endless, so yes, why not offer courses not having to do with dentistry one day?

Dr Frabboni, thank you so much for your time.

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