Sceptic turned believer

Eoin O’Sullivan (MFDS RCS Eng 2000, MSc Lond 1997, BDentSc Dubl), who graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 1991, is a Specialist Prosthodontist whose specialist training was conducted at the Eastman Dental Institute.

On completion, he was invited to become a lecturer at the Eastman. For 15 years he was a clinical lecturer in the Prosthodontic Department, with responsibility for teaching implant dentistry. Eoin now runs a specialist referral practice focusing on complex restorative dentistry and dental implants.

In 2011, Eoin O’Sullivan was invited to become a Fellow of the International Team for Implantology (ITI). From the beginning, he sought out advance innovations to provide the best treatments for his patients, one of which was an introduction to the iTero digital scanner via ITI and Straumann who originally had the franchise for the scanner. He explained that back in the mid 1990’s Cadent (which developed the iTero system) was regarded as the main innovator in digital dentistry with its first laboratory scanner in 2006 in Israel and the States.

At the time Eoin was one of only a few doctors in the country to have an iTero scanner but admits that the initial technology was rather basic and certainly in its developmental stage. However, the scanner demonstrated capabilities that led him to make it an integral part of his practice. By today’s standards it was slightly difficult to use, there was no lab support and its overall application was limited. But the fact it was so incredibly accurate totally justified its existence in his dental practice. Well, at least in his view as his four partners could only see it as a “crazy toy” Eoin was playing with!

In March 2011, Cadent was bought out by Align Technology. Eoin was a little concerned that Align was an orthodontic company whilst his focus was certainly restorative dentistry. Eoin nonetheless continued to use his initial iTero until two years ago when the scanner started getting tired.

It was time for a new scanner. He did a lot of research and tested a number of scanners to acquire a full grasp of next generation of digital technology. However, fancy flashy graphics, which the majority featured, failed to deliver what he needed. He felt that these new scanners were in actual fact a backward step compared with his old iTero – they were not as accurate or would not deliver what he needed for his restorative work.

Eoin was despondent and put the idea of upgrading his old iTero on the backburner. Shortly afterwards, however, his wife, also a dentist, was opening a new orthodontic practice. Eoin naturally went to the opening party. That was a revelation. The practice had a brand new iTero Element scanner. Eoin was intrigued and asked whether it was capable of restorative functionality. This was his eureka moment; here was the next generation scanner with a contemporary new interface, easy to use, advanced features he had yearned for, with same quality and accuracy he was used to with his original iTero intraoral scanner.

Eoin bought the iTero Element almost immediately. Interestingly, his partners started to look at it and asked if they could have a ‘play’. Eighteen months down the line, the whole practice has gone digital with three iTero intraoral scanners in situ. Eoin still smiles at his partners’ reactions; usually sceptical and conservative, now enthused and infused with excitement. Eoin never expected it!

“They can even contemplate undertaking treatment options they would have never considered before! It has totally liberated them and given them a new lease of life with so many new options,” he said. “It is a revelation, improves predictability, and makes it a more joyful experience to undertake the type of treatments we do. It is also an excellent communication tool which patients love, and the 3D images makes the penny drop which conventional photos could never achieve.”

The impact of iTero scanner doesn’t end there. Recently, Eoin embarked on an Invisalign Go training course to brush up on his orthodontic skills. Not what he had contemplated when he had employed two orthodontists, but the iTero scanner empowered him, and it was his patients who led the way.

He explained that one day he was making crowns for a patient. As these needed adjusting and there was a short wait, the patient started discussing how she had never been happy with the position of her lower incisors. Eoin started manipulating her scan using the iTero Outcome Simulator and within minutes, the patient was blown away at the predicted outcome if she underwent Invisalign treatment. She insisted that the treatment needed to achieve this was undertaken by Eoin, and nobody else! So he complied!  

Eoin concluded, slightly wryly: “Patients often won’t take no for an answer. And the iTero scanner seems to have that ability to empower them to explain what they want and help them articulate their needs”.

Align Technology is holding training courses specifically for dentists in Ireland in September, October, November and December.  To sign up please visit for Northern Ireland and for The Republic of Ireland.

Published: 21 August, 2020 at 10:42
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