In this digital era, technology and enhanced patient experience often go hand in hand. From contactless payment to fast and efficient dental treatments, the possibilities are endless. For practitioners like Dr Yang Xiao, he beams with optimism as he explores the potentials of digital dentistry.
Influenced by his father, an automotive engineer, Dr Yang Xiao developed a passion for craftwork and experimenting with new technologies from an early age. Deciding to pursue dentistry though is another interesting story.
He recalled: “My fondest memories as a child were the times I spent with my father fixing model bikes and aeroplanes. Funnily enough, I stumbled across dentistry through a chance encounter, around the time I had to pick my university degree as a teenager. I spent an afternoon with a friend’s dad who was a dentist and he shared with me how the job was both hands-on and people-oriented. It sounded wonderful.”
Now the owner of Teehee Dental Works Singapore, Dr Yang graduated from King’s College London, UK, and was awarded the A.H.R. Rowe Prize for clinical excellence. Most recently, the prestigious British Endodontic Society awarded him a National UK Prize for demonstrating excellence in root canal treatment.
Humbled by these achievements, he shared: “Given the standard of work by many of the other dentists, I think it was a combination of luck and determination to have won these awards. I enjoy trying new things to challenge myself and I was fortunate to have been recognised for trying.”
On top of this, Dr Yang enjoys educating not just his patients but also the general public on the importance of good oral health. Thus, with the advent of digital technologies that can enhance communication with the patient and improve their overall experience, Dr Yang is enthusiastic as he shares his journey in embracing digital workflow.
One for all, all for one
As a clinic owner and a practising dentist, Dr Yang’s role entails a lot of responsibility, such as attending to his patients and managing the clinic while continually bettering himself as a practitioner. For this reason, he is most grateful to see how his supportive team members grow.
“I’m very lucky that my team has stuck by me through the good times and bad times. I would like to give special thanks to Chin, our clinic manager, for supporting our desire to continually introduce change and new technologies into the clinic. I would also like to thank Naufal, our resident dental technician for his top-notch lab work. I think that’s really important when implementing new technologies to improve patient outcomes – you need a team who believes and supports you through all difficulties,” he shared.
In fact, even before COVID-19, their team at Teehee Dental Works had built a new clinic with a self check-in system.
Dr Yang, said: “This allowed us to function well when the pandemic hit, given our systems were already equipped to provide a completely contactless experience for our patients. We also invested early on in robotic arms to automate our production process in our laboratory and that has been really helpful in improving our productivity and efficiency.”
With all these systems in place, Dr Yang takes pride in watching his patients leave the clinic happy. He revealed that addressing his patient’s problems and concerns is always a “wonderful and fulfilling feeling” for him.
The future is now
As a practitioner, Dr Yang is an advocate of preventive and minimally invasive dentistry. He believes that communication is a key factor in the success of his treatments. With digital tools, he is more confident in providing a better patient experience, ensuring they are always on the same page every step of the treatment.
“With the introduction of 3D printing and new CAD software in recent years, I am able to show the patient an almost exact replica of the final result even before treatment begins through the use of digital simulations or through 3D-printed mockups. It is a great communication tool which allows patients to visualise the treatment plan along with me, and give instantaneous feedback,” he said.
Though a game-changer in improving the workflow in the clinic, digital tools and technology have a steep learning curve. Dr Yang acknowledges this, and he constantly immerses himself in learning the ropes.
He shared: “Firstly, continuing education is really important – I love hearing how other dentists are overcoming their problems and coming up with great innovative solutions. Secondly, having a good relationship with your suppliers is essential – this means being open to try out new equipment and learn how new technologies can improve your existing workflows. Lastly, having a network of dentists to bounce ideas off is invaluable – I found it particularly rewarding working with other dentists (both local and international, for some different perspectives) and sharing new ideas.”
Dr Yang said that these new ideas often lead to new solutions that solve old age problems more creatively and improves patients’ experience.
For instance, the NextDent 5100 3D printer from 3D Systems has tremendously improved his practice. He partnered with 3D Systems because they offer a wide selection of complete digital dental solutions to match specific patient requirements with their digital scalable workflows, materials and software.
He explained: “We would not have been able to start our clinic lab without these wonderful printers. They print equipment which are absolutely essential to our work, from wax-up, study models, 3D printed splints, clear aligners and retainers. We have four of these units because they are just so reliable and good to use. Our reputation as a clinic and lab is dependent on the quality of work we produce so consistency and reliability are keys.”
Dr Yang also added that the clinic has two intraoral scanners to streamline their workflows together with a robotic arm.
“Our Kuka robotic arm, affectionately termed by the team Naulfina, does all the pressure forming for dental models, for example, clear aligners and clear retainers. It’s also constantly in use and one of the centrepieces at our clinic,” he said.
At present, the team is looking forward to the new 3D Systems’ NextDent Ortho Flex resin for making splints, as they heard a lot of great reviews about it.
Dr Yang shared with enthusiasm: “We are really excited to try it here in Singapore when it lands on our shores!”