Back home to Killarney
After 25 years of successful practice in the UK, periodontist and implantologist Tomas Allen has returned to Ireland – to open Kingdom Clinic
Periodontist and dental implantologist Tomas Allen has returned to Ireland after 25 years in the United Kingdom to open an ultra-modern, high-tech dental referral practice in Killarney.
Kingdom Clinic is a specialist clinic accepting referrals for implantology, periodontology, oral surgery, and dental sedation. Tomas said the aim of the clinic was to be a reliable referral partner to local clinicians. “We will only provide the treatment prescribed by our referrers and all patients will be returned once this work has been completed,” he said. “We will not be
operating as a general dental practice”
The 4000sq ft premises were completely redesigned and rebuilt internally to accommodate five modern surgeries, cone beam CT scanning suite, two waiting rooms, and a conference room – all fully air-conditioned throughout. “Our aim is to provide an excellent level of service to referring clinicians and to positively change patients’ view of dentistry – though the clinic’s design, the quality and training of the staff, and the significant investment in technology,” said Tomas.
The brief given to specialist dental architect Farahbod Nakhaei, of Glasgow- based NVDC, was to create a ‘feel-good’, non-dental environment for patients. Farahbod has achieved this through extensive use of glass, clean lines, and wide corridors. The surgeries are designed so that no equipment is on show (apart from the chair) and patients are distracted by centrally controlled relaxing music and calming landscape visuals on widescreen monitors. Additionally, the surgeries have ‘virtual ceilings’ by Newry-based LED Sky Ceilings.
“It has been a significant expense,” said Tomas, “but I am confident it will reap rewards in the long term. It makes for a very nice working environment for the staff and the initial response from patients has been very encouraging!
“We offer appointments from 7am to 7pm and we do not close for lunch. The main reception area is designed to resemble a small hotel lobby, with minimal references to dentistry. There is a second large waiting area on the first floor, with floor to ceiling glazing and a large screen TV only playing relaxing landscape images.
“The public areas are all furnished with sofas and chairs from a hotel furniture specialist and are all disability access compliant without appearing clinical. The walls are decorated with high-quality artwork and photography depicting images from the local area. Even the toilet walls have large scale HD vinyl wraps of Kerry scenery!”
Built in 2001, the building had a sound structure, but the internal layout was suited to retail rather than dentistry. The biggest construction expense was to remove the original, poorly located, cast-concrete stairs and install a new concrete stairwell, spanning three floors. With the work led by main contractor, Milltown-based Evans & Kelliher, this created a lot more space and made all the floors regulatory compliant.
“Ike and Bev at DentalSaver (UK) were a great help,” said Tomas. “They provided us with, and installed, most of the dental equipment, including five Belmont Clesta chairs. They have a very streamlined service, from advice on purchases, liaising with our architect and building contractors to installation and testing of equipment. Ike, being a former dentist, was able to foresee some issues with the design and layout meaning expensive alterations were avoided. I would certainly recommend their services.”
It didn’t take too long to settle into their new surroundings. “We were new to the area with a newly created clinic which had a lot of new systems,” said Tomas. “Into this mix we had to add new staff. We knew that there would be a steep learning curve for all concerned. Luckily, we have managed to attract excellent staff, all of which have previous dental experience.
“We have an in-house training programme which we have developed over the years and we are now implementing so that all staff are aware of current regulations but are also be onboard with the practice ethos of excellent customer service and care of patients and referring colleagues. We want to be a strong partner.”
The team at Kingdom includes specialist oral surgeon Dr Norma O’Connor, who has held the position of oral surgeon in hospitals in Ireland and the UK, including consultant in oral surgery at the Edinburgh Dental Institute. Her qualifications include a master’s degree in oral surgery, membership of the Royal College of Surgeons and she is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. Norma provides a full range of oral surgery services including tooth/root removal, diagnosis and management of oral soft tissue problems, jaw joint pain, facial pains, and dental implant therapy.
Dental sedationist Dr Margaret O’Connor has 19 years’ experience of working in general dentistry. She has a keen interest in treating nervous patients and has worked in the dental sedation department at King’s College London, where she gained a Postgraduate Diploma in Dental Sedation.
Margaret has also passed membership examinations to both the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons in England and Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. She has also undertaken extensive postgraduate study in the field of facial aesthetics. As per the practice ethos, Margaret wishes to reassure referring clinicians that her practice is limited to sedation dentistry and all her patients will be returned to the referring dentists after the prescribed treatment has been completed.
Tomas has a BDS degree (with honours) from University College Cork and a master’s degree in Clinical Periodontology (with distinction) from Queen Mary University of London. He has qualifications from the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons in England and completed a diploma in Dental Implantology, organised by Perio-Implant Europe at the FAPI Dental Institute in Brazil and the University of Paris V.
He has recently enrolled on a mastership in laser dentistry programme, to fully explore the benefits of this exciting new field of dentistry. Tomas has a special interest in the new and exciting fields of digital dentistry because of the benefits it brings to the outcome of dental implant therapy.
“We expect our practice to have a wide catchment area, including Kerry and the border regions of the surrounding counties of Cork and Limerick,” he said. “The nearest clinics that offer similar services necessitate a long commute for many patients. In time, we hope that we will attract patients for the quality of service that we offer, but our convenient location will be a major advantage for patients in Kerry.”
The practice offers IV and RA sedation, and a radiology referral service to local clinicians with acceptance of referrals for high definition OPG and CBCT scans. “We understand the urgent nature of these referrals and offer same-day service if required,” said Tomas. “The patient can be seen on the day the referral is received and the images can be made available to the clinician on that same day. In addition, we can also arrange a radiologist reporting service from US board-certified radiologists. This also has a quick turn-around time of one to three days, with an optional express service. “For dental implant referrals, we can provide many levels of service. From site development – grafting and socket preservation – to placement only or fully restored treatments. We are happy to work with a wide range of implant systems. Our preferred brand is Southern Implants. For clinicians referring to us for the first time, we will provide a free restorative kit, with hands-on instructions!”
Tomas also has years of experience in the provision of sinus lift procedures. Although the indemnity insurance for this procedure has increased dramatically, making it uneconomic for many practitioners, Tomas is fully insured to carry out this procedure and can provide this treatment for his referrers. “We use CBCT scans, Piezosurgery techniques, along with a sinus kit, to greatly increase the safety and predictability of sinus lifts,” he added.
Had he noticed any trends or changes in popularity to the services they provide?
“There is certainly a growing awareness among the population about periodontal disease and the effectiveness of therapy. We have seen a steady rise in patients self-referring for such therapy. Patients are less likely to accept tooth loss, and this is reflected in the demand for dental implant therapy. Many patients do a lot of their own research on the subject of dental implants. Not so long ago, patients generally focused on the price of implants; now the focus has shifted to value for money, which is not the same thing!
“At our consultations, we take time to explain their treatment. Patients are particularly impressed when we can show them their 3D scans with virtual implant placement. This greatly improves treatment acceptance but also their understanding of treatment limitations. We also provide a copy of the plan images to the referring dentist, which has proved very popular and is great for effective communication.”
“It is the type of practice I have always dreamed of owning; multi-surgery, excellent design, and technology driven”Tomas Allen
It’s all been quite a journey for Tomas. “This has been a huge commitment in terms of time and finance. Everything has gone into this practice, even the sale of our home. However, the project has exceeded my expectations and we are proud of the achievement so far. Patients have given us very positive feedback about the clinic itself, but more importantly, the positive feedback about the treatment received.
“It is early days, but I am very optimistic about the future of the practice. I know that we have to work hard to earn the trust of referring dentists and to attract new patients. It takes time to gain the trust and confidence of referrers, but ultimately, we want to be seen as a reliable referral partner.
We also want to add other specialist dentists to our staff and are currently
actively seeking an endodontist for example. This is the fourth – and final! – practice that I have owned, and the third that I have set up from scratch. It is the type of practice I have always dreamed of owning; multi-surgery, excellent design, and technology-driven. Over the years, I have learned a lot about the business of dentistry. Success comes, ultimately, from excellent service and patient care.”