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20 Feb 2018

By Galip Gurel

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Veneer expert in the spotlight

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World-renown dentist, author and lecturer Dr Galip Gürel speaks to Aesthetic Dentistry Today and gives them a valuable insight into his thoughts, life and career. He is the author of best-selling book ‘The Science and Art of Porcelain Laminate Veneers’.

Can you tell us how you got to where you are today?

After high school, I went straight to studying dentistry at the University of Istanbul, School of Dentistry and after graduating from there I went to University of Kentucky, Department of Prosthodontics at Lexington degree for two years. The biggest advantage of studying there was that next to our department there was the dental technicians department and in those two years I also had the opportunity to learn how to do my own porcelains crowns and bridges as well. Although I had a lot of opportunities to stay in US, I decided to go back to my country and started working at my parent’s two-box surgery in Istanbul. There in 1980s, although there were only a few examples in the world, I made up all my settings to practice in a Multi-disciplinary way. To my parent’s great amazement, I was referring three out of four weekly patients of mine to specialists. But, years proved how wise I was to follow that route.

In 1985, while dentists were still hesitant and scarcely using veneers, I was one of those very few who started using veneers in my treatments. In 1989, I opened up my own clinic. Nowadays, it has grown into a clinic where the specialists pay visits as per the Inter-disciplinary system; all treatment stages from A to Z can be met; with an In-house Lab and 27 personnel; very boutique and aesthetically oriented.

When did you did you first decide to become a dentist?

We didn’t have TV or internet when we were very young and we had not yet integrated with the rest of the world; therefore we did not have enough knowledge about different professions. Because of that and since both my parents were dentists, from a very early age, I thought of no other thing, but only about becoming a dentist like my parents.

What has been the most memorable moment in your career/life?

In my life, it is the birth of my son. In my career, it was the moment when I held the first print of my book in my hands.

What have been the biggest barriers in your career/life?

In 1980s, the international communication in Turkey was almost impossible. We didn’t have the internet and events and continuing education programs were out of reach for us. The technical, economical and the political problems in Turkey were great obstacles. Creating a high-tech, boutique clinic from nothing was a big challenge in every stage. Of course having the patients and the universities to accept the treatments I did with veneers were another great obstacle.

What do you like/dislike most about your job?

If you are a prosthodontist and an aesthetician, each new patient becomes a new case and each case needs a different and new smile design fitting each face. Each new case within this whole new package means an overall new creativity. That is what I like most in my job.... the planning and creativity. The most difficult part is to realise the whole planning. The whole treatment process is like a long chain with many rings. From getting the measurements to preparing the provisionals, there are many steps such as the preparation of plastic models in the lab, the application of articulator, facebow transfers, ceramic materials and their different applications and one mistake at any of the stages may mean a total failure just as if one ring breaks the whole chain then becomes useless. Therefore, I sometimes wish I had chosen a branch where I could do everything by myself. My work requires me to be on top of it all the time and there is no way I can remote control it. That’s another difficulty I have.

What have you learnt most of all about people as a dentist?

I learned that everyone is different and in general most of them do not have enough information on dentistry. Therefore people have to be educated/informed about the services they can acquire from a dentist and they should be informed of each and every stage of even the simplest treatment as well as any complications they may come across.

If you hadn’t had been a dentist what would you have been and why?

I love my profession. I believe I would always choose dentistry because of the ingenuity and the job satisfaction. It’s just that, I could prefer a profession, which would leave me more personal time and a completely different lifestyle.

What do you think of dentistry in the UK compared to the States?

It’s not fair to voice any opinion about those countries without first living and working in them. What I can only say is that I find English dentists more conservative where as the Americans are too daring.

What are the three things you wish you’d known about running a business before you opened yours?

  1. A person who would design my clinic in an optimum style
  2. A financial coordinator
  3. An office coordinator

What advice would you give to anyone entering the dental profession now?

First of all the newcomers should realise that the technology, materials, techniques and concepts are changing with the speed of lightning. Even if they are the graduates of the best schools of the world, some of the things they learned will be meaningless within a short time. All dentists should pursue continuing educational programs after school if they wish to stay abreast of their profession. They should set a mission/a vision for themselves and make their projections and plans accordingly. Last but the most important thing is, to work with discipline, discipline and discipline.

What’s it like being a high profile dentist?

I don’t know if I’m a high profile dentist but I know I have many patients and I work a lot, and all of my patients are very demanding. If my name is the first name which comes to mind when the people in my close society needs an aesthetic dentist, then it also feels good spiritually and materially. One should not forget that when you become a high profile dentist that usually means that you end up with the most difficult cases or the most problematic cases that have not been solved as yet. Of course, with each case you must aim for a higher excellence.

Can you give me an example of your typical working day?

I am usually up by 6am and do my workout. I reach the office by 8.30-9.00 am and work until 6-7pm non-stop. After work I meet with my friends; have fun, leaving all thoughts and worries about the dentistry behind. Then, there are also times when I chose to stay home and read and review the professional publications, and stay up to date.

How do you see the future of dentistry progressing?

In my opinion, the dentistry is definitely progressing for the advantage of patients. When we look back at the last 10-15 years, we see that instead of cutting the teeth and making bridges, nowadays we can make fixed or removable partial dentures over implants without touching the neighbouring teeth; instead of cutting and capping the teeth we are placing beautiful veneers over them with minimal preparation. Finally, each new technique brings both dentists and patients a very important advantage: preserving the healthy teeth tissue while making very aesthetic and functional restorations! More and more the technology is progressing towards better non-invasive dentistry.

What in your view is the secret of success?

I love what I do and never lose my enthusiasm while always keeping up with my discipline. Discipline here should not be considered as rigidity or unforgiving or limiting but rather as a great tool for time-management.

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