Directors and Co-founders of Enamel Clinic Dr. Mark Bowes and Prof: Howard Gluckman share their journey and tips for maintaining a healthy set of teeth.
Dr. Mark Bowes
Can you briefly explain your background and experience in dentistry, as well as how Enamel Clinic came about?
I have had the privilege of being a dentist for over 40 years, and I also lecture and teach dental courses to post graduate dentists all over the world. I love sharing my knowledge, and I have also been fortunate enough to be the founder of both the “South African Academy of Aesthetic Dentistry (SAAAD)“ as well as “The Digital Dentistry Society of South Africa (DDSSA)”.
I am a smile architect, which is an advanced restorative dentist and a Super GP. The person who controls the case, and prescribes where implants are placed, or where the final position is for teeth that are treated by orthodontics, prior to the restorative phase.
I have worked with my colleague Professor Howard Gluckman for many years, Him doing the surgery and me doing the restorative phase of the treatment. Even though we enjoy working together, we recognised it was not ideal for the patient to go to two different dental clinics in Cape Town, so we decided to move into the same space, and as they say ‘the rest is history’ and Enamel Clinic was born.
What inspired you to pursue a career in dentistry?
I enjoyed Science and Maths at school and dentistry seemed like a good fit! To be honest at 14 I don’t think you are equipped to make this kind of life long decision, but it worked out well for me. I finished my dental degree when I was 21 years old, and have never looked back. I have a huge passion for the profession, and love going to work every single day. I enjoy building relationships and trust with my patients, and restoring their health and confidence…this inspires me to do my absolute best.
What are some common misconceptions or myths about dental health that you often come across?
Often patients do not realise the damage that is happening to their teeth, on a daily basis due to night time grinding (bruxism) as this damages teeth very slowly, patients often don’t notice, until it is too late. Tooth wear is a big problem in today’s world. I encourage my patients to wear a nightguard, every night, to help with this. Also as patients can’t see the back of their teeth they may not be aware that the enamel is eroding, this could be due to something like acid reflux or drinking fruit juice or carbonated drinks.I work with a dietician and order DNA analysis tests for my patients in treatment, so that they have a deep understanding of their genetic health, and ways to manage intolerances or imbalances, so together we can all find a healthier way forward.
Could you explain the importance of regular dental check-ups and cleanings for maintaining oral health and hygiene?
Quite simply,prevention is better than cure. With regular dental check-ups and hygiene appointments, dental professionals are screening your mouth for a number of conditions, including oral cancer. With the use of digital x-rays, CBCT – cone beam tomography and intra-oral scans we can keep an eye on the health of your bones, teeth and soft tissue. We can monitor any cavity, confirm if teeth are moving, or being worn down, as well as checking for cysts or dental abscesses, whilst they are forming – and educate our patients how to avoid or remedy these conditions. With regular screening we can help you to stay healthy, as oral health is linked to systemic health, and generally when something is left, it gets more expensive to fix!
Are there any significant advancements or technologies in dentistry that you find particularly exciting or beneficial for patients?
The digital revolution has advanced dentistry beyond all other advancements. At Enamel Clinic we digitise the patient at the first appointment, which means we gather all digital records, this would include digital photographs, x-rays, CBCT scans and intra oral scans – the intra oral scan is a lot of tiny photographs that are stitched together to make a digital impression of your teeth.
We no longer need to use analogue impressions- where the patient had to be subjected to a mouth full of impression material, on a tray, put in their mouth and left there – for 5 whole minutes, often making people gag, this is really a thing of the past. Fast accurate intra oral (inside the mouth) scans are pleasant by comparison, and are saved on a computer as a reference point for future. As a digital Smile design clinic, we always start with the face, and create a smile that is both natural and in harmony with your face.
Please tell me a little about the tooth whitening treatment I did, the results are impressive?
Teeth whitening is the most common form of cosmetic dentistry – it appeals to a wide variety of people, all demographics and all ages. Teeth whitening is also a great anti-ageing procedure, as whiter teeth make us look more youthful. There are many options of teeth whitening available at Enamel clinic, which are all safe, they range from home whitening kits, to full in chair experiences. We take the time to custom design a teeth whitening package that will fit your lifestyle and your budget. It is not a one size fits all situation.
How do you approach patient education and communication in your practice?
At Enamel Clinic we focus on patient centric care, we want our patients to love coming to the clinic, and look forward to their appointments. We have a huge team, and teamwork is really the essence of Enamel Clinic. Each dentist has a front desk team member to handle their appointments, as well as a dental assistant and at least one treatment coordinator. I am extremely fortunate to have two treatment coordinators, one handles all the patient enquiries and corresponds with the patients digitally, via email, WhatsApp or phone, depending on the patients preference, then my technical coordinator manages all the photographs and scans, as well as Invisalign cases that need to be uploaded on a special platform and the treatment estimates for patients. My dental assistant helps organise my room, she knows all the products and instruments I will require for any procedure, and she gets then all ready, and hands them to me. I love working with my whole team and I simply wouldn’t be able to work without them. We have a great culture in our room, and our patients can feel that, we spend time developing the relationship with each individual patient, as everyone is unique.
Prof: Howard Gluckman
What are some common dental issues or conditions that you frequently diagnose and treat?
It is difficult to name any specific condition one treats as we could do any of the listed treatments in a day. However tooth decay, gum disease and generalised tooth wear are some of the most common diseases we have to treat.
Can you share some tips for maintaining good oral hygiene at home?
Follow a structure of cleaning. Developing a routine is the best way to manage anything that feels like a chore. Brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush twice daily and floss once a day preferably before you go to sleep to ensure you do not leave food between your teeth. Brush in the mirror and concentrate on the task at hand. Don’t try multitasking while brushing it won’t be done properly.
Can you elaborate on the relationship between oral health and overall health?
Oral health can affect your general health in many ways. Poor aesthetics can lead to a low self esteem and can affect one's mental health. Gum disease can directly affect your heart, lead to a stroke, lead to preterm babies and low birthweight in newborns. Poor development of the dental structures can lead to sleep issues like snoring and sleep apnoea which have a dramatic effect on our overall health.
Are there any specific dental treatments or procedures that you specialise in or have a special interest in?
At Enamel we cover all types of treatment from aesthetic makeovers to root canals treatment, to implant placement and bone and soft tissue rehabilitation. We also manage all forms of tooth wear and joint problems. Gum disease and all other diseases of the mouth are managed by our in-house specialists in oral medicine and periodontics. Tooth whitening is always a must at our hygienists to ensure your teeth are pearly white
How do you handle dental anxiety or fear in patients?
Anxiety and fear are part and parcel of our everyday practice. The most important tools are empathy, and communication. A clear understanding of any procedure and the ability to hear your patient's concerns are critical to building a relationship of trust. Together with the use of technology which allows one to better explain, so the patient is able to make informed decisions.
Can you discuss any preventive measures or habits that individuals can adopt to minimise the risk of developing dental problems?
Home care consisting of brushing and flossing are the most important habits to develop. Visiting the oral hygienist every 6 months if you have a healthy mouth and every 3 months if you suffer from gum disease or have a very high rate of decay due to dry mouth.
How do you stay up-to-date with the latest advancements and research in dentistry?
Travelling to international conferences on a monthly basis allows us to stay abreast of the latest developments and technologies. Being involved in education and clinical research also ensures that you read as often as possible to keep your teachings as current as possible.
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