Dhru Shah has been a qualified dentist since 2003. He since founded an educational network - Dentinal Tubules - in 2009 to improve the education and inspiration dentists have access to.
We talk to Dhru about why he founded the group, why education is so important to dentists, and what he sees for the future of dentistry…
Q: How long have you been a dentist and what have been your biggest challenges?
I have been a dentist since 2003, so 14 years. I then completed my specialist training in 2012, so have been a Periodontist for 5 years.
One of the biggest challenges for me is that working towards good quality patient care has not been easy. Patient care is really important for me, but I’ve struggled to find a practice that has been achieved a good quality patient journey from start to finish.
And my second biggest challenge as a dentist has been access. Access to education, access to learning, and finding people who inspire me to move forwards…
You have to be in a profession with people you can look up to. People who inspire you to do and be the best you can. Now, dentists have access to this - but before, it was very difficult to find this inspiration.
Q: And what do you define as a “good quality patient journey”?
There are many facets to it and it takes a long time to develop in any practice.
As soon as the patient walks through the door, they are not only seeing the dentist, they are seeing the practice team.
- The reception team need to make them feel comfortable
- The dentist needs to show that they are giving them time and that they hear their problems
- The nurse needs to communicate the treatment plan clearly
Every patient should feel satisfied that they have been looked after.
Q: What do you expect from the future of dentistry? What excites you most?
It’s moving towards much more improved patient care and being able to give them more options.
Dentistry has always been very pragmatic in terms of its science and the approach to looking after patients. But recently, I’ve seen a lot of developments both from clinical and non clinical.
From the clinical side, there are a lot of digital technologies coming through. We’re already seeing digital scanning and we’re looking towards 3D printing. For me, that’s really exciting.
I think a lot of forward thinking practices are already looking ahead to how they can implement these advancements.
Digital isn’t just for the clinical side of dentistry. Management and receptions teams are benefiting too with tools like automatic booking systems. It’s all about enhancing the customer experience.
And I’m excited to be a part of it; spearheading the digital education element of dentistry. The advancements here are huge!
The future learning pathway, the future care pathway - everything is going to have some kind of technology within it. This is going to help dentists become more efficient and really benefit patient care.
Q: Why did you set up Dentinal Tubules?
I set it up to connect with dentists around the world who could inspire me and inspire others to achieve the best that they can.
At the time I was disenchanted with dentistry. But the group - and the idea of it - enthused me about dentistry again. It has opened up a world of opportunity for me - the world of community and networking.
It enabled me to start learning again; bringing back everything I loved about dentistry in the first place.
Q: Who do you find joins the network?
Dentinal Tubules exists to improve education, to help us share, learn and connect. And the people who come to us understand this.
We define the type of dentists that join our network using 5 hashtags…
- #Grow: dentists who have decided they want to improve professionally and personally. They come to Dentinal Tubules because they know we’ll give them the opportunity to move to the next step.
- #Share: dentists who want to share their knowledge. The network is full of approachable people who want to make a difference.
- #OutOfTheBox: dentists who want to think differently and unconventionally and make a change.
- #Inspire: dentists who want to inspire, energise and boost others. They want to learn and help others learn too.
- #Community: dentists who want to be a part of the group; they know why we created the network and they want to help.
Q: Why do you think education is so important to dentists across the world?
Education and learning is important to all aspects of patient care. The more knowledge we have, the better the experience is for our patients.
Dentistry is a vast field. It’s not just learning about teeth - it’s learning about the materials, the technologies, the different patients, communication, and working as a team.
Learning is a lifelong pathway. You can’t just learn all of this overnight. And when you do learn it, you have to maintain it. Things change and you have to continuously update your knowledge.
If you’re at the top of your game in terms of knowledge, you can transport this into your patients. And that is very important.
Q: Before Dentinal Tubules, where did dentists go for education and knowledge?
Conferences and courses… that’s all that was available!
But dentists would have to take time out of their day, travel and miss a day at the practice. That can get costly pretty quickly.
Q: How has your network changed this?
Our biggest aim with the group has always been accessibility; no one in the world should go without access to education.
And I believe Dentinal Tubules has transformed the way dentists access knowledge. We are giving people across the world access to the best speakers, some of the best content, and some of the best videos. But they don’t have to walk away from their surgery.
We also have a large network of study groups around the world. So dentists can still speak to a group of ‘Tubulites’ and learn with them - in person.
Learning is now so flexible. Dentists can learn what they want, when they want and how they want.
Q: Why do you think dentists react so positively to the group - why is it performing so well?
Firstly, we have a very clear vision to educate the world. And that triumphs the network. People know that we are trying to help them and that we are working in their best interest.
Secondly, we think #OutOfTheBox. We try to deliver an experience that is great fun and full of enthusiasm so members don’t feel like they are learning things the typical, boring way.
And this is what our members value about the group…
The innovation, the top quality online content, the out of the box thinking and the open community.
Q: How do you see Dentinal Tubules fitting into the future of dentistry?
The group offers people the option of digital learning that meets their need for a flexible life. We’re going to use this technology to deliver the best educational experience for our dentists.
Q: Please tell us about the group’s relationship with Optident?
We’ve been working with Optident for 4 or 5 years now. We help each other meet our aims - which on the most basic of levels, comes down to education.
They are a Gold Level sponsor of the group - but the relationship is much more than that. We work together to educate dentists.
It works well because of our similar aims of education. And we both believe in delivering top quality information - whether it’s about dentistry or Optident’s products.
Together, we do things that nobody else does…
The network told us what dentists wanted from study groups; we used this information and worked with Optident to set something up of real value to dentists. We became the first study group network to set up hands-on roadshows.
We now travel the country and offer blended learning - so people watch the videos online, and then visit the roadshow.
Dentinal Tubules is an educational network for dentists across the world. Combining high quality online content, local study groups, and motivating events with live speakers, the group aims to improve education for all dentists.