It’s been a while since I disappeared from the forefront of dental education. For the past decade, having a presence in social media has become the norm regardless of who you are. If you are not actively promoting yourself online, then apparently you don’t exist. I’m not on anything –Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok – except LinkedIn. I’m not a follower, and I only act according to my beliefs.
The saying ‘work until you no longer have to introduce yourself’ is something I’ve believed in and kept in mind since the start of my career. The hours I have spent at work as a dental technician/ceramist would easily exceed Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule (i.e., the time required to be decent at what you do in any field). Thus, I acknowledge – and feel I have earned – the reputation and the way in which I’m recognised within the industry. It is not arrogance or ego – rather sheer effort and commitment that I’ve invested towards my career as a way of contributing to society. I am here to be the best I can, and nothing else.
The experiences of establishing my first businesses – ‘Smile by Yugo’ in 2008 (Fig 1) and ‘School of Yugo’ in 2011 (Fig 2) – were pivotal in my 30s and taught me a great deal about business. I had about ten staff at that time – small but large enough for me to realise the importance and significance of my presence for other individuals and their career paths.
The more the businesses grew, the more the demand for an online presence. However, instead of investing my time in social media, I was committed to presenting my work and philosophy in the contents of the business websites (Fig 3 shows the Smile by Yugo website, and Fig 4 shows the School of Yugo website). I, of course, designed the contents, with the help and expertise of the graphic and web designers – Rob Caldwell (https://www.rj2.com.au/) and Luke Hayes (https://www.lukehayes.com.au/), who have both supported me since the inception of my business in 2008. I’d like to acknowledge that while all the contents of this Smile Virtuoso website are my creation, Luke has help me put them all together.
Smile by Yugo was a dental laboratory where I made prosthetic teeth for aesthetically demanding patients in collaboration with high-end dentists/prosthodontists.
School of Yugo was an organisation to provide educational and technical contents for dental technicians and clinicians. I presented courses, such as the Master Ceramist course (60 CPD units), and invited notable clinicians from overseas to present innovative concepts and techniques to contribute to the Australian dental education within the realm of cosmetic and aesthetic dentistry.
While experiencing the growing trend in the online sector, as a technician/artist, I wanted to create something original that was both tangible and relevant. I ask dental technicians reading this post, how many of your clients (i.e., dentists) send you the before and after photos as feedback? And I ask clinicians, how many of you send the before and after photos to your partners – dental technicians? Not that many, I know, but without feedback, it is not possible to grow or improve. Thus, I decided to take matters into my owm hands.
I wanted to create a ‘Before and After Gift Card’ for the benefit of all parties – patients, treating clinicians and myself (technician/ceramist). The established protocol is as follows:
- smile design consultation/shade taking (at the pre-op stage)
- temp review (when temps are in situ)
- final review (at the post-op stage).
This service seems time-consuming for both the clinicians and the patients at first glance, going back and forth between the dental practice and my studio. Still, it is necessary not only to increase the value of my service by achieving a consistent and successful outcome, but also to collect documentation for the demanding cases that I encounter without counting on the treating clinicians’ feedback or quality of photos (which are often inconsistent). Fig 5 shows the mock-up of the ‘Before and After Gift Card’ in collaboration with Rob.
Fig 6 shows the completed artwork – ‘Before and After Gift Card’ – and the album that can hold the gift cards. This service has been active since February 2009 and is set to continue in 2021, and offers the following benefits not only to me but to others:
- obtaining documentation for educational purposes. Not many dental technicians/ceramists get to see the final result (unless the treating clinicians send some post-op photos), which is contradictory to my belief in improving my technical skills. I need to know what I’ve done right and wrong for each case
- achieving better coherence from the beginning (pre-op) to the end (post-op). I take the photos myself, without relying on the treating clinicians. This is particularly beneficial in education and when presenting my cases
- witnessing the patients’ satisfaction and how they have overcome their emotional and aesthetic challenges. Their smiles at the final review make my day, and I feel that what I do for a living is valuable for others and gives me a sense of worth in that I can contribute to society
- better connections and networks with the patients (the public). It is fortunate that I get to deal with high-end customers/clients (as well as high-end treating clinicians). With their high dental IQ, they can see the value and appreciate the efforts that I have gone through to produce the required result. The Before and After Gift Cards are provided to both the patients (for their memories) and treating clinicians (for their marketing purposes), and allow the clinicians to show my work to their future patients
- differentiating my position as a technician/ceramist from the rest.
Although the School of Yugo no longer exists, my involvement in dental education hasn’t ceased.
To note my recent contributions in education, it was an honour to present at the ‘Aesthetic Symposium’ in 2015, along with Drs Marcos Vargos (USA), David Dunn (NSW) and Stephen Chen (VIC).
Then, in 2018, with the ‘Extended Fixed Prosthodontics 3: Porcelain Veneers’ course, I presented at the University of Sydney along with Drs Alan Yap, Nour Tarraf, Chee Chang, Gillian Dunlop, Robert Fell, Tony Rotondo and Ken Hooi, as well as my fellow dental technicians – Szaboics Hant and Ricky Lee (see video). Pity I missed the dinner, and we never got to meet!
Please check out the video produced by Dr Alan Yap by clicking the play button above.
Not to forget that, in 2014, I was selected as a visiting clinical teacher for postgraduate Masters Course in Prosthodontics/Aesthetics at King’s College London – see a part of my presentation focusing on morphology presented in the Clinical/Technical Tips and Trick section – click here.
There are two qualifications that I’m proud of as a reflection of my personal achievements:
- an Innovation Patent (Fig 9)
- my Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Sydney (Fig 10).
Concerning the obtained patent, here is the link to the detailed technique of the Aesthetic Articulator (click here to read the article). You get to see how I apply my invention in day-to-day cases as an aid for communication as well as achieving accuracy consistently – visualisation with precision.
I intend to use my bachelor’s degree as part of the requirements to enrol in the Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) course at the University of Sydney in 2023. Becoming an educator has taught me a lot, including what was missing from my career. I feel that with the additional clinical skills, I will be able to take myself to the next level, being able to complete the treatment from A to Z with coherence in philosophy. Thus, I’ve decided to become a dentist (to become a better technician/ceramist). Possession of my existing skills and knowledge as a technician/ceramist will be beneficial as a dental clinician as this will create an excellent harmony and provide me with a unique position within the industry – being the ‘only one’.
You might be wondering, why blog and why now in 2021 after all those years of being invisible?
Writing is something that I’ve been involved in throughout my career – dental publications since 2005, obtaining the Bachelor of Arts degree (which involved writing essays on various topics) and completing the written communications (essay writing) part – Section 2 of the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT) – see the philosophy section. If I’m comfy enough presenting and expressing myself through writing, then blog posts are my primary choice within the online platform.
I also have a whole year until my full-time studies commence with the DMD course (if everything goes according to my plan) while managing my extremely heavy workload, so 2021 is the only opportunity for me to focus on building the foundation of this brand-new activity!
My purposes for publishing the blog posts are:
- presentation and documentation of my activities (past, present and future). I’m here to become visible again in my own way, and share my experiences as I encounter upcoming challenges
- providing informative/educational contents that are unique and original. I intend to capture the shift from technically focused contents to merging with clinical contents as my academic acquisition grows
- presenting my journey/experiences while juggling full-time work and full-time studies
- long-term investment/potential source of passive income (this statement serves as my ‘declaration of monetising’ within the website).
The blog posts should appeal to:
- patients who are interested in high-end cosmetic/aesthetic dental procedures
- patients who want to increase their dental IQ and prepare for what to expect from their dentists
- dentists who are seeking dental education through clinical tips and tricks (applicable particularly when I become a dentist)
- dentists who want me to be a part of their team as a dental technician/ceramist
- dental technicians who are seeking dental education through technical tips and tricks
- university students who are/will be going through the GAMSAT
- university or high-school students who are interested in entering the dentistry course
- anyone interested in the art of transformation through the before and after images!
I will be sharing:
- presentation of educational before and after images (not just pretty photos), including the behind-the-scene stories
- technical and clinical tips and tricks focusing on various topics, themes and materials
- academic contents (with clinical evidence) through the presentation of my publications, including in peer-reviewed journals in English
- philosophy (on various topics in life in general) through my examples of the GAMSAT practice essays (professionally marked with feedback)
- a bit of my personal stuff.