Shift Magazine: Sprig first introduced the world to prefabricated pediatric Zirconia crowns back in 2010. When did you first learn about pediatric Zirconia crowns, and how did they change your experience in pediatric dentistry?
DJ: I began my pediatric dental residency in 2011 after working for two years as a general dentist. I entered residency with the hope and intention of gaining all the skill sets possible to provide exceptional care for the children I treat. As a first-year resident, I was put in charge of fixing fractured strip crowns. This became a daunting task; one I didn’t wish to make a part of my own everyday practice.
For this reason, I began researching alternatives for anterior restorations. I was dissatisfied with the lack of esthetics provided by resin-faced stainless steel crowns. Soon, however, I realized there was a new Zirconia crown option that might provide both the durability and esthetics I had hoped for. I presented this idea to my program director and got the green light to use these crowns if I could get samples for the clinic. Since then I have never looked back.
During my two-year residency, I had the amazing opportunity to try all available anterior restorations for children. I am so thankful that I now have an alternative to stainless steel crowns that provides a strong, esthetic, and predictable restoration for my patients.
Shift Magazine: How did the experience of using many different manufacturers’ pediatric Zirconia crowns in residency influence your decision to choose EZCrowns for use in your private practice?
JD: I was able to order three different brands of Zirconia crowns to evaluate during residency. As a practicing dentist it would not be cost effective to purchase all the brands of Zirconia crowns. Because of this cost restraint, many practitioners seem to make a knee-jerk decision and then just stick with a certain crown because of their financial investment in that brand. As a resident, I was able to independently evaluate the crowns without the constraints that would be required if I were in private practice.
After many restorations and follow-up visits, it became clear to me that EZPEDO crowns were superior in their esthetic appearance and required less tooth structure removal in order to seat them properly. Their EZ-Seat™ design allows these crowns to fit more precisely in crowded dentitions without having to complete pulpal therapy.
Shift Magazine: As you look back over the last four years, how have the Zirconia crowns you use been improved—new shapes, design changes? And what have these improvements meant for you as a practitioner—ease of use, speed of placement?
DJ: Since I was an early adopter of Zirconia crowns, no training programs like Sprig University were yet available to provide hands-on skill training. For this reason, I had to learn the techniques on my own by trial and error. In many ways this was good for me because it really forced me to think about how to improve my efficiency and technique.
To my knowledge, Sprig has made the most dramatic improvements to their crown design since their product launch. The relaxed contours and slight profile modifications (especially for the posterior crowns) have significantly enhanced the ease of placement. It is encouraging to observe how Sprig is soliciting feedback from the doctors who are actually placing the crowns and constantly striving to improve their product!
Shift Magazine: For the average pediatric dentist interested in incorporating Zirconia crowns into a private practice, how important is continuing education for easing the transition into adopting this new technology?
DJ. As I said earlier, I personally learned how to efficiently place these crowns by trial and error. This is not the method I would recommend for my colleagues, however.
Sprig realized that one sure way to ensure practitioners feel comfortable placing these crowns on their patients was to provide hands-on sessions and individual guidance. Now, with courses offered by Sprig University, you have an opportunity to work with your peers and receive over-the-shoulder, hands-on training in mastering the preparation of a Zirconia crown.
Shift Magazine: From your own personal experience opening a new pediatric dental practice from scratch right out of residency, how has the ability to offer Zirconia restorations helped in that process?
DJ: Opening a practice from scratch has been quite an adventure. My best advice is to seek council from smart people around you who have done it before. I had an amazing group of mentors who guided me through this tedious process. One of their best recommendations to me was to always put the patient first and treat every child as you would treat your own children.
As a father of two girls, it is an honor to have other parents trust me to care for their children. Many parents who come to my practice are devastated because they have been told that the only option for fixing a severely decayed tooth is to put a silver cap on it. These parents are instantly relieved that I offer more esthetic treatment options in my office.
Offering a white, natural-looking crown alternate has become a great referral source for my practice. I do not rely on any advertising to build my patient base. Because of this fact, it is imperative that my patients receive exceptional care that exceeds normal expectations. Patients with beautiful smiles and their satisfied parents are the best source of referrals I could ask for.
Shift Magazine: Do you have any words of wisdom for dentists who are interested in incorporating pediatric Zirconia crowns into their practices, whether they be residents in training or private practitioners who have been in business 30-plus years?
DJ: A great quote from Will Rogers says, “Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.” This holds true in many areas of our lives. With the introduction of pediatric Zirconia crowns, we can now provide superior esthetics without compromising the strength of our restorations.
To a resident, I would recommend that you try to learn all you can while in the confines of your residency, because once in private practice it is easy to become stagnant with your techniques.
To the dentist who has been in practice for 30-plus years, I would challenge you to not downplay the new possibilities that are now available. Zirconia crowns introduce a great treatment alternative—one that has already changed the face of pediatric dentistry.