The key to leading opinions

Spurring the exploring and adoption of innovative solutions, Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) play a crucial role in promoting new products and techniques among the dental community. Hear from three KOLs with different expertise, backgrounds, and approaches towards their roles to learn about how ideas proliferate and become adopted in practice.

Key Opinion Leader

For Dr Anand Narvekar, being a key opinion leader (KOL) is no easy task involving responsibilities both inside and outside the clinic.

“Working closely with industry partners requires trust and collaboration as companies provide a platform for you to share your expertise and network with a wider dental community. Companies trust you not only for your clinical skills, but also for your ability to share your knowledge to inspire others while respecting the company’s interests,” said Dr Narvekar.

After graduating from Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University in 1996, Dr Narvekar immersed himself in the field, establishing a practice in Mumbai, India, where he has dedicated his efforts to advancing dentistry, particularly in aesthetic dentistry.

As a fellow, trainer, speaker and advocate for Minimally Invasive Cosmetic Dentistry (MiCD) and its global partner Shofu, Dr Narvekar has honed his skills to treat complex full-mouth rehabilitation and smile design cases, emphasising minimally invasive dentistry techniques where management of occlusal disorders and restoration of a balanced occlusion are key components in his restorative treatment protocol.

“MiCD focuses entirely on minimal invasive cosmetic dentistry, so in my own clinical setup, I prioritise applying MiCD principles wherever possible. This enables me to effectively advocate these principles to students and colleagues with confidence, using various clinical cases as examples,” Dr Narvekar said.

Given the reputation and influence of these organisations, Dr Narvekar views his role as a KOL as a significant responsibility. To shoulder this weight, Dr Narvekar highlighted the importance in building a foundation of understanding products and their usability, with a focus on how it can be incorporated into practice.

Dr Anand Narvekar
Dr Narvekar places an emphasis on keeping abreast of the latest skills and knowledge as a KOL

The challenges for Dr Narvekar came in adapting and implementing different innovations into his practice, then modifying and simplifying them to ensure better and easier understanding for participants when sharing his knowledge through workshops and lectures. Factors such as ease-of-use, handling, mechanical properties, and results produced, are essential considerations rather than just relying on the brand name alone.

“As a KOL for many companies, it is essential to spend the time to thoroughly understand the material and its clinical capabilities and study all materials, including their composition, pros, and cons. This in-depth knowledge permits me to handle these products effectively in my daily work optimising clinical performance while ensuring predictability,” said Dr Narvekar.

Dr Narvekar further elaborated that being recognised as a KOL comes with the added responsibility of working closely with industry partners and consistently delivering high quality work with a passion for sharing knowledge with the wider dental community. Therefore, it is important for Dr Narvekar to be open-minded and always stay updated to perform his role.

“Being open to experience new materials and techniques while maintaining a high standard in clinical practice not only enhances your credibility as a dentist, but it also provides a morale boost, knowing that your clinical expertise is being recognised and valued by providing an opportunity to contribute positively towards dentistry,” he said.

Dr Adriana Locher
It is not uncommon to find Dr Adriana Locher in front of the camera unpacking topics of interests or interviewing profiles from W&H

Hailing from Argentina, Dr Adriana Locher’s journey in dentistry began at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) in 2010. Since earning her DDS degree, she felt a strong urge early in her career to pass on her knowledge, leading her to become a faculty member at UBA at the age of 19.

After graduation, Dr Locher specialised in oral implantology and high-complexity rehabilitation. This field — encompassing implantology, bone regeneration, and prosthesis rehabilitation — has since become her passion and expertise. Notably, her master’s degree presentation on peri implantitis won the first prize for oral presentation among all universities in Spain. This recognition fueled her desire to address such critical concerns in implantology.

As a KOL for W&H, Dr Locher is able to marry her wish to impart knowledge with her dental expertise. “My role revolves around sharing insights to enhance the practices of medical professionals, bridging the gap between medical advancements and those who can benefit from them,” she said.

Dr Locher approaches her role by leveraging social media platforms with an on-screen presence to share her insights, with a primary focus on creating informative videos and posts primarily on Instagram to her audience of over 12,000 followers. “Through these mediums, I not only introduce new products and surgical techniques but also create a contextual understanding of their applications, enhancing the practice of medical professionals,” she said.

Beyond social media, Dr Locher’s communication approach extends into different platforms such as live courses and conferences. Her intention is to present products in a relaxed and approachable manner, while ensuring that the depth of knowledge and expertise behind them is maintained.

“I have had the privilege of speaking at numerous conferences, conducting hands on courses, writing books and scientific articles, and contributing to the educational development and training of various international dental companies. For me, dentistry is not just a profession — it is a daily opportunity to engage in what I love,” she added. It is in engaging in this passion that Dr Locher’s remains committed to excellence for herself and her audiences. Beyond her personal preferences, the most important factor for Dr Locher when collaborating with brands or organisations is the quality of its products.

Dr Kenneth Lew
Dr Kenneth Lew giving a lecture on accelerated orthodontics during the IDEM 2024 scientific conference

In Dr Kenneth Lew’s 30-year-long career as a specialist orthodontist, with his first decade in academia as a full-time staff at the National University of Singapore and subsequently as a clinician where he also provides training and education courses in orthodontics, the filter of these experiences has shaped his perspective as a KOL and led him to assuming the role which he never intended on, but rather “serendipitously stumbled into”.

“As a KOL, my twin responsibilities are to be brand agnostic, then have a good experience myself with the product and extrapolate this to an audience of highly intelligent dentists, for the product to receive a more considered engagement,” said Dr Lew.

As a clinician based in Singapore, Dr Lew believes many mild occlusions cases in Asia are unique as there are certain features that are very prevalent in the local population which is not seen in Caucasians. With a focus on Asia as his target audience, Dr Lew sees his KOL role as about bringing brand awareness to potentially innovative technologies that otherwise might not have exposure and penetration in the Asian market.

Dr Lew shared that in 2024, he will be focusing on sharing new innovations he has found in the fields of acceleration in orthodontics, clear aligners and lingual orthodontics. With an eye on emerging technologies, Dr Lew raised a balancing act that KOLs must manage in encouraging their audiences to explore such innovations. He explained that innovative solutions are likely to contain a calculated level of experimentation in their approaches. “We cannot have an exhaustive set of data because by the time you wait for it, companies will no longer be in the forefront,” he said.

“There is a sense of responsibility for me as a KOL knowing that audiences will be evaluating what I say. Everything I say cannot be supported by literature and literature is not fully extensive to be able to support everything. Some of my reflections are empirical because I have tried something and it works in my hands,” Dr Lew added.

This poses a challenge for KOLs where Dr Lew relies upon the “muscle memory” developed through his extensive experience. He explained the process of how ideas are adopted into clinical practice where clinical observations are interlinked while working principles are developed over the same timeframe. When a clinician sees a patient, they evaluate new techniques and try to apply it clinically. “We can either evaluate and accept new techniques, adopting it with minimum of fuss, or identify techniques which do not work in our hands and move onto new research,” said Dr Lew.

Moreover, it is along this process where Dr Lew places an invaluable weight on both the fundamentals of dental education and continuing education which enables dental professionals to develop an acute instinct to evaluate new methods. This is what drives him to be an active speaker for education and training, summed up in his personal motto: Knowledge is only of value when shared.

To read the full article, click here or refer to Dental Asia May/June 2024 issue.