Interview with Dr. Ilya Benjamin
Digital dentistry refers to the use of digital technology to virtually plan the treatment and achieve the best potential in restoration of patient's bite and smile during implant placement procedure. Dental CAD/CAM technology allows Dr. Benjamin to visualize the procedure's outcome and achieve highly accurate results. Utilizing these tools ensure that implants are placed in the precise positions necessary for aesthetic but also functional restoration. Dr. Benjamin gives us his insight about current technologies and procedures he uses to treat patients, provides perspective on his overall dental philosophy and explains challenges he successfully has to overcome to keep dental implant procedure absolutely superb.
Jelena Ugrenovic: Where did you do your specialization for The All-On-4® concept?
Dr. Ilya Benjamin: There is really no specialty that exists for All-On-4® but a passion to help patients with failing teeth or no dentition. This requires a deep understanding of both implant surgery and prosthodontics. Both fields break further down to very deep knowledge such as advanced implant placement like zygomatic and more.
JU: Absolutely, being passionate about what you love to do is a real blessing. Can you tell us please what skills are necessary for a person in your position?
Dr.B: One needs to have the beginning with the end in mind when treating a patient with failing dentition. Some dentists that don’t do this procedure often have a tendency to shorten the bridge span due to their implant placement skills limitations. As a result, patients suffer from chewing issues and even smiling since the bridge is small compared to the process that we implement and results we get.
JU: Interesting perspective! How would you describe your knowledge of current technology and procedures?
Dr.B: As a lab owner, I have learned a lot about different parts and pieces that can make excellent results in cosmetic dentistry. This field is very fast paced with a lot of changes, so one has to be very quick with adapting to new concepts. Every year I travel to Chicago in February for a big Lab Day meeting to learn about the latest technology in making this procedure superior.
JU: Technology is expanding exponentially and we have to keep up with a process. What have you done in the last year to improve your knowledge?
Dr.B: We hired a great technician, Mohamad who understands the smile design workflow. He is great with his craftsmanship skills and techniques and have excellent understanding of digital process. Another investment that we made was in understanding the CAD/CAM Software called ExoCad.
JU: What would you say is your dental philosophy?
Dr.B: Be conservative and give the patient both sides: functionality and aesthetics. The latter is so important with enjoyment of food. Aesthetics is key to social interaction. Without a healthy smile, most people avoid smiling or talking with confidence and it changes their personality.
JU: Once you knew you were interested in healthcare, why did you choose dental and not medical or veterinarian?
Dr.B: It's a funny story because I come from a family full of physicians. My father is a general surgeon with a PhD in Immunology and my brother is a renowned ophthalmologist in LA.
I was even invited to a 6 year medical program at Boston University, but I declined the offer. I really wanted to assist patients who are dealing with fear of the dentist. To me that was a key, how to win someone that is so scared of the dentist. That passion turned into seeking IV Sedation training in Portland.
JU: What do you like most about dentistry?
Dr.B: Implant placement and digital dentistry by far have made more patients happier than anything else in the dentistry field. It has been the biggest disruption. But few dentists actually pursue learning these skills.
Dr.B: When I know that I can help patients and significantly improve their life, but finances become such a barrier that they choose the most economical solution. Later they complain that they shouldn’t have done that way and come back to the dental implant procedure.
JU: What do you think you can contribute to the dentistry profession or ZirTeeth®?
Dr.B: It’s very important to give back to my profession. That is why I teach other dentists on everything I do. Most of the time, after I put the kids to sleep -- I sit down and blog a lot about new procedures. I post a lot of content online and conduct private mentorships to those doctors who want to excel in an immediate load. ZirTeeth® have revolutionized the final teeth product since we use material that others won't touch. Basically, Zirconia is a very difficult material to manage, but we have found some great techniques that we hold close to us. Kinda like our secret sauce.
JU: What is your philosophy on how oral health relates to overall body health?
Dr.B: Nowadays, there are many medical researchers who publish their discoveries that the most systemic and psychological ailments are reflected from conditions found in the mouth. Take into account cardiovascular disease for instance. If you have periodontal disease, then you have a big risk of that bacteria to enter the bloodstream and affect your heart’s health. Indirectly, patients that have dementia suffer from plaque building on their teeth. Some scientists have found this to be an indicator of Alzheimer's. Basically, our mouths make us healthy or disabled. It’s key to everything.
JU: What are your goals as they relate to dentistry or ZirTeeth®?
Dr.B: We know that besides giving patients better functionality and aesthetics, we truly change their lives for the better. So many patients have passed through our Implant Center to find out that they have not been enjoying their lives due to their failing teeth. To see someone having back that positive transcendental journey is just a very fulfilling mission in life. This is really why we love doing this.
JU: What non-dental organizations did/do you belong to?
Dr.B: I belong to a few Synagogues around town and contribute to their growth. I believe having faith in God is very important pillar to a full balanced life.
JU: What is your greatest accomplishment?
Dr.B: Ability to find people that want to help patients in a real compassionate way. Our team is really focused on patient’s well-being and care. We will not try hard to sell patient any of our products and procedures, that’s not part of our philosophy. We understand that this is a big investment in your life. The last thing you want is some pushy person that is only interested in the dollar.
JU: What is your current project that you are working on?
Dr.B: Currently, we want to open another office in a different state and spread the love. We love what we do and how we do it. Now it’s time to baptize other doctors as we passionately pursue treatments of patients with failing dentition or no teeth.
JU: What is your profession’s greatest challenge today?
Dr.B: Keeping up with rapid changes in the lab with respect to software and hardware. It seems that every year a new milling machine comes out, or new software features must be learned, but we are committed to making this journey and love the challenge.
JU: If you could change one thing about the industry with the wave of a magic wand, what would it be?
Dr.B: Eliminate competitive tendencies that dentists have and focus more on collaboration to fix patient’s problems. We can make a better world if we focus on patient first!
By ZirTeeth’s Outreach Coordinator Jelena Ugrenovic