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Features / September 26, 2014

How aesthetic dentistry is evolving in Ireland

by Guy Hiscott

Robert Craig reveals how aesthetic dentistry is expanding in Ireland, and what the Irish Academy of Aesthetic Dentistry is doing to aid this movement

In my 26-year career in dentistry, there has never been a more exciting time for aesthetic dentistry in Ireland.

There is a real hunger for world-class teaching; the doom and gloom of the long recession is lifting. Now is the time for progressive, forward-thinking dentists to educate themselves to provide the dental care that an ever-growing percentage of the population demands.

I have watched the accepted vision of aesthetic dentistry broaden to include orthodontics, periodontal surgery and occlusion. It is no longer counted acceptable to overprep a tooth when this could be avoided with orthodontic tooth movement. The best aesthetics in the world can be compromised if it doesn’t last, due to a lack of consideration for the patient’s occlusal scheme. The importance of time spent in pre-treatment planning is becoming more evident by the day.

Building relationships
Hand-in-hand with pre-treatment planning comes the ability to communicate the clinical issues, as you see them, to your patient, visually. Quality clinical dental photography is the single most important tool in patient communication, and I have found that patient acceptance of larger treatment plans increases exponentially when it’s used effectively.

Tony Aherne (left), founder and president for the academy, with Robert Craig

My advice has always been not to work with an anonymous lab, but to find a talented, quality-focused technician, and build a long-term relationship with them personally. This is fundamental to the success of developing a successful aesthetic dental practice.

The following points demonstrate how the Irish Academy of Aesthetic Dentistry (IAAD) can help your journey down the path of quality aesthetic dentistry.

Annual conference
The IAAD conference alternates on an annual basis between the north and south of Ireland. The format for the conference usually includes a top-class international speaker for the day on a topic relevant to aesthetic dentistry.

In October 2015, renowned author and lecturer Gerard Chiche from the USA will join the IAAD at its annual conference. This is one of its most ambitious projects to date.

Closed meetings
Closed meetings are free to members and consist of a full day of presentations by homegrown talent. The academy believes that it should foster the talent within its organisation, and the closed meeting is a showcase for this.

The next closed meeting takes places on Friday 3 October 2014 in Dublin. On this occasion, it has opened the meeting to non-members as well.

Quarterly study clubs
More recently, the IAAD has introduced the study club concept in Northern Ireland. The purpose of the study club is to provide a safe and positive environment for its members to learn how to present their work, with a view to presenting at the closed meeting.

It may sound scary, but it has been a great success. The last study club had about 35 presentations from dentists such as Rory McEnhill, Sean Corry, Peter Hughes and Paul McCusker.

Restorative course
So, how do you gain the clinical skills and the confidence to offer more complex treatments to your patients, and present your work to your peers? The answer lies here: Tidu Mankoo will be presenting a 14-day restorative course, and, as the past president of both the European and British Academies of Aesthetic Dentistry, there is no better person to learn these skills from.

The course is run in my practice in association with the IAAD, which runs on 14 individual days over 18 months. The format includes a pre-course literature reading list, lectures, discussions, case presentations by delegates and live treatments carried out by Tidu.

Clinical photography skills
The IAAD also offers hands-on clinical dental photography workshops for individuals or small groups.

The future is bright
So, what is the future of aesthetic dentistry in Ireland? Like the present, it is extremely exciting. The IAAD has a groundswell of interest in quality aesthetic dentistry among the profession, and an ever-increasing demand from the public.

Through the IAAD, and other organisations like the Faculty of General Dental Practice and the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, learning pathways are in place for dentists who wish to develop their knowledge and skills base.

Robert Craig is chairman for the Irish Academy of Aesthetic Dentistry (IAAD) in Northern Ireland. Robert qualified from Queen’s University in Belfast in 1988 and set up his referral practice, Gentle Touch Dental Studios, in 1990, with a special interest in implant and aesthetic dentistry. To find out more about the academy, visit or email