Interview with Nancy Tomkins, one of the founders of CanDEC
By Michael Battell DD
You started your career as a dental technician, why did you decide to become a denturist?
I was working in commercial laboratories and went to work in a group practice making dentures. The dentist I was working with at the time thought I would make a good denturist because of my communication and chair side consulting skills. I really enjoyed talking with people and ascertaining how I could help them.
Why did you decide to create CanDEC?
Actually, within 2 months of receiving my license I went to Lichtenstein, Germany and travelled to Europe many times after this and it was where my eyes were opened and I recognized the education I received here was not everything. It was clear to me that continuing education was integral but that it needed to include a hands on component. My desire to help other denturists, particularly with advancements of technology and morphology of tooth lines and dental implants, grew from that need.
What makes CanDEC a leader in education?
There is nothing else like CanDEC that I am aware of. It offers comprehensive continuing education that is not manufacturer driven, geared specifically to dentures and all aspects of denture fabrication. In particular, attention is being paid to the importance of implants and implant overdentures. You see this type of continuing education support with dentistry but there is no such thing for dentures. Up to this point CanDEC has concentrated on hands-on courses but we have now branched into a Symposium structure because the need is so vast and information needs to be shared in a larger format.
Who do you expect could benefit from the educational seminars you put on?
Every dental professional that sees themselves involved in the team around dentures can benefit from CanDEC ‘s different events and courses. Anyone from a Dentist, Denturist or Dental Specialist to a Dental Assistant or Treatment Coordinator, will receive value in the education and his or her practices will benefit as a result. Even dental suppliers could benefit from CanDEC courses because of the products and techniques they see, and now can recommend to their clients. Dental supply reps go into practices needing something to talk about, and ways of benefitting their clients. They have usually known their clients for years and would know what would help them raise-the-bar in their practice.
What is the goal of the Symposium you are holding in November?
The goal is to start a conversation that no one else has engaged in before, on a problem that has existed for decades. It is to bring people together who can recognize a need for newer technology, different techniques, patient management skills and take this information and anything else they learn back to their practice. It is an opportunity for discussion with colleagues, and to improve the lives of immediate denture wearers. In doing so, I believe we will elevate dentistry and the perception of dental healthcare in the eyes of the public, as caring and up-to-date providers.
There are many courses available to dental providers, what makes the Symposium different from other dental lectures?
It’s never been presented before in this fashion. No one is talking about immediate dentures…yet. They are the biggest source of complaints at the College level and they are often debilitating and crushing for most patients that have to get them because of the disconnect or gap between clinician and patient, and clinician and dental technician/technologist. This Symposium will teach attendees how to bridge that gap for greater success with immediate denture treatment plans.
Tell me something unexpected attendees will experience at the Symposium?
They will better understand the importance of optimal mastication, digestion, and systemic health for increased case acceptance particularly with dental implants. It will profoundly change the bottom line and reputation of their dental practice in their community. I introduced this lecture in Edmonton on June 2 and it was a big success but with the information Dr. Howard will be adding…this will be an “a-ha” moment for the attendees to experience.
What’s the number one thing you would like attendees to take from the Symposium back to their practices?
To confidently and caringly work together as a dental team. This conference is about being part of a team. Everyone has a role and everyone has importance in being part of a successful outcome. Replacing missing teeth is a universal dental problem and you can be part of the solution if you want to be.
What should dental health providers be preparing for now and in the future?
There is a huge opportunity and necessity for dentures as our population grows older. The real need for dental implants and immediate dentures is ever increasing. Now, with more people being Internet savvy, consumers are more educated and shrewd, and expect good results. There are different technologies out now that patients are aware of and demand be used. You need to be on the cutting edge and part of team that is on the cutting edge to meet patient expectations.
How do you think advancing technologies are helping dental health providers and patients as a result?
That’s a loaded question. It’s amazing the advancements in dental implants. Still, many providers are not suggesting, or recommending dental implants when it comes to denture patients. It’s communication and dialogue with the public that should be happening; including data and results so informed decisions can be made.
There have been no advancements in immediate dentures but there is a predictable way of fabricating them, and communication that needs to occur between patients, the extracting dental team, implant placing dental team, denturists and technicians to ensure success. That’s what we want to share. No one has brought this to public so they are still suffering.
A patient may come in for a consultation to discuss immediate dentures but as a dental provider you have to include dental implants in this discussion. Not talking about it is a disservice to the patient. Whether a flipper, partial, or complete dentures implants need to be included in the treatment options. They can’t be separated now. The World Health Organization (WHO) said those who are suffering from edentulism have a disability. Providing dental implants as part of the treatment plan can turn this around.
With the advancement of CBCT scanning, Canaray, printed guides and guided surgeries, knowledge is improved, risks for failure are managed, healing is faster, and predictable outcomes are higher. Ultimately this means the successful fit, function, phonetics and esthetics, of implant secured dentures and exceeding patient expectations.
What can we look forward to from CanDEC in the future?
More symposiums! We have at least 5 more topics we would like to bring to the community in this fashion with expert speakers lecturing. We will have comprehensive hands on courses. We will continue to work with dental manufacturers and distributors as they have also sought advice and knowledge from CanDEC. This is a fast growing component in dentistry and we plan to be out there discussing and educating for the benefit of patients and the dental community alike.