A smart person knows that learning is a continuous lifetime event. Even the man with a doctoral degree knows that times and technology change at a rapid rate. Therefore, he has to be prepared to flow with the times if he wants to be successful and to be seen as world-wise. He has to keep an open mind and be prepared to exchange old knowledge, practices and technology for new and better ones, which undoubtedly will enhance his career. An anonymous writer once said, ‘The mind is like a parachute, it works best when it is open.” Although my youth is long past, I still practice keeping an open mind. That’s why today I can say with humility I have just gotten the hang of what it takes to create the perfect case in the field of Dental Technology and I am very proud of that knowledge.
I have been a dental technician for over twenty-five years and thought I knew all there was to know about the perfect case. I thought I was a competent professional, because the cases I had done and delivered to my clients always seemed to work well. Whenever the dentists sent me the patient impression, I would make a careful examination of each and immediately assess what needed to be done, then set up the wax works and complete the dentures within a very short time. The teeth would be well set together, the gum the exact shade of the clients’, and the polishing would be beautiful. If the denture looked good on each client, then my self-esteem would soar and I would think I had done a great job. I was more interested in how good the denture looked than how it functioned.
If any of the clients expressed dissatisfaction about a case to me, I would offer some simple scientific explanation which they would accept, and then simply redo the case until they were completely satisfied. It was not until I became enrolled in the MDT Course taught at the New York University College of Dentistry, Continuing Education, by the American Society of Master Dental Technologists, that I started learning about Occlusal Morphology and Correction. I then realized my knowledge of what it takes to get the perfect case was inadequate and superficial.
In this course I have learned to look at the whole picture and not just a part. The esthetics or the cosmetic aspect of the case is good, but there are more important factors that should be taken into consideration. Albert Solnit, D.D.S. and Donald C. Curnutte, D.D.S. state “For occlusal correction to be successful, if there is any occlusal disharmony, it must be eliminated before the restorative procedures can be taken, for functional, esthetic and preventative reasons.” This statement clearly shows that before a case can be deemed perfect for a client, there has to be coordination between occlusal stability and function as well as esthetics. These components constitute the proper combination for a well-done job that will be acceptable to the patient, the dentist and the technician. Alexander Aska1sky, CDT, MDT, sums this up in a funny but meaningful way by saying “Fit leads to Function, which leads to Form, which leads to Ease of performance (for both the technologist and the dentist), which leads to better Esthetics and higher level of Excellence. This spells FFFEEEs.” This is amusing, but so true.
I have also learned the importance of the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) and how it works, which helps me to appreciate and understand the clinical aspects of cases and the treatment of individuals. This joint is all about stabilizing the upper and lower jaws during the process of chewing, swallowing, speaking and yawning. Clearly, in-depth knowledge about the TMJ plays an important role in the field of the Dental Technician. With this added scientific knowledge, I am better able to visualize, judge and create better fitting cases. Needless to say, the complaints about my recent cases are virtually nonexistent. My services are now in greater demand than before.
The MDT Course I had taken has turned me into a better professional. I have had to swallow my pride, accept the fact that I didn’t know everything there was to know, and study earnestly to remedy my deficits and then exchange old practices for new and better ones.
The knowledge and the skills it takes to create the perfect case do not come overnight. Only through knowledge, hard work, determination and perseverance did I reach my desired goal. I totally agree with Alexander Askalsky when he says, “Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution.”
I salute the professors of the MDT Course, Vincent V. Alleluia, CDT, TF, MDT, and his team. You taught us very well and we understood. Therefore I strongly encourage all dental technicians and others who have not taken this course and who work in the field of dentistry, to enroll as soon as possible. It will move you from the unconsciously incompetent level to the consciously competent level. In other words, this means you move from the beginning point in what you are doing (where you do not know any better) to the point where you have gone through a learning experience that guides you to anticipate what the end result of a restorative dental procedure will be.