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Not Your Average Young Dentist Journey – PDP036

In this episode we listen to Alan’s story. His name is Alan Burgin and he’s also known as The Cornish Dentist on Instagram.

Need to Read it? Check out the Full Episode Transcript below!

His story involves themes of mentorship, challenges, overcoming adversity, gaining a work life balance, (so actually going abroad to Australia for six months)….I don’t give too much of the story away, but it involves so many real-world themes. And actually, it also involves a bit of luck and something that we touched on in Episode 34 with Richard Porter on emotional intelligence was the element of luck in your career trajectory is actually very important.

The Protrusive Dental Pearl is about how to make cementing crowns less messy using Vaseline!

I hope you enjoy listening to our reflective chat! NEXT MONTH will be Splintember! I will cover all things dental splints to simplify this confusing area of Dentistry.

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Click below for full episode transcript:

Opening Snippet: Yeah, so probably the biggest thing I've learned about bigger cases in private practice is a lot of people say about getting to know your patient. And I've had a few cases where I've moved into they didn't need much doing initially, we've been able to move into the sort of full mouth stuff quite quickly, and haven't got to know them at all. And it doesn't mean just you don't have to sit and chat with them for ages. But now I'm much more structured in my treatment approach in that I will do a stabilization phase and then a definitive phase...

Jaz’s Introduction: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Episode 36 of the Protrusive Dental podcast. Today we are talking about a journey and a story of a very talented young dentist. I’ll tell you in a second who it is. And it’s all about resonating with his story. Now his story is very unique. And that’s why I’m going to bring him on because life doesn’t always go as planned. And in dentistry, as you’re a young dentist, sort of career path that you map out, may not exactly go to plan. And there are some great lessons you can learn from stories and journeys. So the pathway that we’re going to describe say is specific to one in the UK because of the some of the names, the posts that we mentioned, like maxfacts, SHO positions, or DCT positions or whatever. So that’s applicable to UK but I believe all over the world. Be it Australia, US, wherever you are listening to this, that there are parallels you can draw within your system. If you’re a young dentist, we sort of going up in terms of training pathway so we can have like residency programs, for example. So that is applicable, no matter where you’re listening from. So we’re gonna listen to Alan’s story. His name is Alan Burgin, and he’s also known as the Cornish dentist on Instagram. And his story involves the themes of mentorship, challenges, overcoming adversity, gaining a work-life balance, so actually going abroad to Australia for six months. I don’t wanna give too much of the story away, but it involves so many themes. And actually, it also involves a bit of luck and something that we touched on in Episode 34 with Richard Porter on emotional intelligence was the element of luck in your career trajectory is actually very important. It shouldn’t be overlooked. So before we join into the journey with Alan Burgin, the Cornish dentist. And speaking of journeys, my wife and I celebrated our fifth anniversary yet well, it’s actually today. She’s not working out and I’m at home this morning. So I’m actually recording the intro for this episode. But we celebrated our anniversary over the weekend. We went to this fantastic Turkish restaurant called Gökyüzü. And when my wife first told me that we’re going this place for to celebrate, I thought as a Japanese restaurant going by the name, but actually, it was a phenomenal Turkish restaurant, some of the best Turkish food I’ve ever had. Even better, dare I say that when I went to Turkey a few times, it was in Finchley where we went in London, but I believe there are a few branches around so if you ever in that part of the world, definitely check out and Gökyüzü, It’s amazing. And don’t worry, this is not the Protrusive Dental pearl. I was just sharing. You know, I know some of you are foodies, so I thought I’d share that little nugget with you. But the Protrusive Dental pearl is coming in the second. I just want to share some very exciting news with you that September is no longer going to be named September it will be Splintember. Thank you Ricky Bhopal for giving me that suggestion of a name. But basically September all the episodes I’m going to release are going to be to do with splints. They’re different types of Splints I want talk about Michigan, SOF, Tanner, anterior deprogram, anterior midpoint stop appliances, anterior repositioning splints, I want to talk about all of them. Now I want to re-break it down, simplify it. I posted on the Protrusive Dental community recently like what do you guys want to know? Like, how can I help you in your journey with splints and some of you had some great suggestions points. So some of them were like, ‘can you please produce a flowchart?’ ‘Can you show some like A to Z videos?’ So I’ll try and do that as much as possible for splintember. So join me in September, splintember for loads of splint content I want to share with you all and if there’s anything specific you want to know, please reach out to me message me, email me and let me know and so the Protrusive Dental pearl I have for you before we dive into the episode is when you are cementing crowns. So this could be temporary crowns or definitive crowns, when you’re cementing them in quite often aren’t you cements in you get loads of mess everywhere. You have to spend some time actually you know getting a scaler or something and scaling the facial surface of the crowns so that patient isn’t walk out this horrible white cement or definitive cement and also the gingiva, you have to clean up the gingiva as well to remove the excess cement which is very time consuming and annoying. So a tip I absorbed over the years is you get a micro brush and you dip it in Vaseline so once you’ve tried your temporary or definitive crown inside, you’ve checked everything and you’re ready to cement, everything’s dry and ready, you’ll get some Vaseline. And you’ll paint this Vaseline a little bit on the gingiva, a little bit around the crown on the outside surface, obviously don’t want to put on the intaglio surface or on the facial surface, for example, the crown, and you have to be very careful this one put a very thin amount on the adjacent teeth of proximal surfaces, you don’t put too much because as you seat the crown, the Vaseline can creep inside the crown. So this has to be like a very thin film. So now when you load up the cement and put it in, it’s gonna be the easiest cleanup ever. So that’s the pearl I have. And also additional pearl I have for you is I’m very much a fan of using long handled pink tepe brushes when I’m cementing posterior crowns, to just clean out the embrasure space and clean out any excess cement as well as flossing. So floss is great at cleaning the contact. But sometimes to get the bulk of the cement out, I use a tepe brush and interdental brush long handle. And I think for the sake of you know a couple of pennies, it makes my appointment go quicker, smoother, and never had any cement stuck between even I can verify that radiographically since I’ve been doing this, so it’s a great thing to do. And even if you have a really bad day, and it can’t happen, sometimes it’s tricky situations and you actually leave some cement and you can’t floss, you know that the patient can tepe and we can talk about that another time. You know, the the chewing action will actually break down the cement in between the teeth. And eventually you can sort of work at it or use those serrated saw and stuff. But ideally want to prevent all that. So the Vaseline can really help you to prevent that and also a much easier to clean up. So I hope that was useful. And let’s join in and listen to the stories and the lessons and the themes with Alan Burgin, the Cornish dentist.

Main Interview:

[Jaz]
Alan Burgin. Welcome to the Protrusive Dental podcast, my friend.

[Alan]
Hi, how you doing?

[Jaz]
I’m doing great man. I’m just want to tell everyone about how I found out about you. I connected with you. I think earlier on in this podcast. We, I think it was an episode about splints or something. And we sort of say, you know, Instagram messaging each other about splints, I think?

[Alan]
Yeah, struck a few chords with the we’re looking at, we’re doing the same sort of thing and Dawson style. So yeah, lots of similarities.

[Jaz]
That’s right. And then later on, and I put a reading list out recently and he sort of bounced back. And so I think we’ve got quite a few similarities. And what I noticed about you was you were not when I sort of connected on Instagram with you, your dentist Instagram profile that the Cornish dentist is literally like dental pornography and nothing short of it.

[Alan]
Thank you.

[Jaz]
Honestly, it’s a great profile. And I mean, one of the things that we can talk about is that the amongst other things I want to bring you on for but just for those listening right now, can you tell us a little about yourself, where you qualified and your career journey? Because a lot of what we will be discussing today will be career focused about what decisions, I mean you have made in our career so far, and how we can get into full mouth dentistry, comprehensive dentistry without necessarily specializing?

[Alan]
Yeah, sure, sure. So I trained in Cardiff at Cardiff Uni, graduate in 2012, and loved Cardiff, and then decided that we’re gonna stick around that area. And my year was actually the first year that had to apply for DF1 online. So they went they changed from the central, change to the central recruitment scheme, rather than just you know, having a room full of people and mixing in that way. So everybody applied online. And my application actually didn’t go through properly. And so when I phoned them up, I said, you know, what was the situation? They said, Yeah, I can see all your information, all the details and everything. But the form hasn’t come through as submitted. So we take late submissions very seriously. You have to apply again next year. And yeah, I mean, that was it. Literally. That was the end of my DF1 before it even started. So I basically had this, I pretty much had one job that I could apply for, which was a DF2 12 months maxfacts post. And the reason all the other ones were off the cards were because they had a six month community or post attached, which you had to have a performer number for. So by complete fluke coincidence, I was due to do a two week post at that maxfacts unit, the next month. And so I pretty much just turned up and said to the consultant, you know, on the first day look, just so you know, I’m going to be putting my name in the hat for this job. And he sort of said, he didn’t realize that everyone else applying for this is going to be one, two, maybe three years qualified. And he said what you know, you haven’t even got a degree yet, I saw I said, Yep, that’s the situation. And he said ‘okay. Let’s see how your placement goes.’ And so I was just like, threw myself into that placement, just doing everything I could, put my hand.

[Jaz]
I mean, that placement, Alan was pretty much like a two week job interview, right?

[Alan]
Pretty much. Yeah, pretty much. And yeah, I loved it, I actually really enjoyed the post the placement as the main thing as well. And then right at the end, I went into the consultant sort of said, you know, if we see you again, and he pretty much said to me, You know, I don’t think I’m going to give you any favors. We’ve got this is one, this is one of the most popular posts in the area. So it goes and I got the position, I got the deal.

[Jaz]
Amazing And that was just one post?

[Alan]
Yeah. So I did that first of all, and then went on to do DF1. And when I went to the meet the trainer thing, I kind of found out that all the trainers, it had sort of gone around rumor mill that, that I hadn’t actually filled the forms. And that’s sort of what they’re told everybody. So that’s a bit like, okay, that’s fine, I just got to prove myself. And then the maxfax background went down pretty well. And so I worked again, then in Ronda Valley, is a pretty high needs area. Some awesome patients, lovely people I worked with, but you know, again, you just get stuck in. And so of a lot of high needs.

[Jaz]
What was that like Alan going from Maxfact, and then into practice? Because a lot of people sort of worry about going into maxfax. And then going back into to practice. How do you do? I mean, your story is very unique. That you almost did the other way around. But how did you? It’s amazing, actually. So at one point, you know, maybe in the middle of fifth year before you went over study leave whatever was the last restoration, you did maybe and suddenly you go through all this maxfacts. And then you’re now doing your DF1, How’d you find that transition?

[Alan]
Not too difficult, actually. Because the one thing I think maxfacta does for you, is it pushes you to your limits, and also gives you a bit of real world realization. And whilst you can still then reflect and be, you know, think about all the procedures you haven’t done. At the end of the day, you’ve seen some pretty intense situations in the hospital, and you can kind of think, actually is just the tooth. Let’s not get too over the top about it. And some of the scenarios you treat in maxfacts, you end up being quite glad just to take a tooth out or do a filling. And yeah, I didn’t find it too difficult. And it was still DF1, you know, so there was as much handholding as you needed. But I did. I was getting a lot of extractions ending up on my list. And my boss did not like to take a deep out. So it’s just sending all this stuff my way. And I think yeah, I think it worked out well for both of us. And yeah, it was a great year, actually. And then after that, my wife, we will work she was working in Cardiff as well. And

[Jaz]
she’s also a dentist?

[Alan]
She’s a therapist, hygiene therapy. And she said, I’ve always wanted to go traveling, we never went traveling. And I was okay. You know, I’ve been offered another position in Australia after the DF1. And we kind of looked at and said, You know, there’s no other time that you’re going to have a definite break that you know, you get a one year contract in DF1. So I said yeah, sure. Let’s do it. So we went traveling for six months. And we just went all around Asia, Australia and New Zealand. And my worry was the same as after maxfacts, you know, I’m going to come back and everyone else is going to have got ahead, I’m going to be left behind, how am I going to catch up again? And actually, it wasn’t a problem that kind of got back and found that you know, things hadn’t moved on that much and we had a great experience

[Jaz]
You don’t play by the rules do you? You’re just like doing something different. I like it I like where it’s going. It’s very good. I think it’s gonna help a lot of people who are in, I mean you hear about people in very unique situation. I like your story, it’s very different. And you also touched on the having that break and almost you get FOMO, you get the fear of missing out and then they all going to be going ahead, What if I get left behind but you know, I can tell from the type of dentistry you’re doing that you certainly have not been left behind. So how do you fast forward to the Cornish dentist that you are now? How do you get to the type of dentistry that you’re doing now?

[Alan]
So we moved to [Barth] after we went traveling. And the I was in a mixed practice there. And my thought process was, you know, I really enjoyed maxfacts, implants is going to be my thing. And so I did the implant master’s degree through Bristol, I was in quite a fortunate position there where my practice was placing quite a lot of implants. So my boss was willing to somewhat mentor me Hold my hand a bit. Because one thing you find on the MSC is, it’s an incredible course. And I really, really enjoyed it, but you don’t have a huge amount of hands on. So or that’s not quite fair, actually, I suppose it’s you don’t do a lot of cases. So you have quite a lot of hands on, but it’s just one or two cases each year. And but those cases are done to the textbook gold standard. So you learn a lot, you just haven’t repeated your skill set that much. So that meant that in practice, once I was into the second year, my boss said, great, you know, you can start placing simple implants with me, I’ll be there if you need any help. And that was a really good way to be able to do that postgraduate because it meant that you could still practice. And I know some friends of mine who were on the course, they had to pay quite a lot to get mentors in to observe them, and just makes it more difficult. And it was in that position that I sort of decided, I saw these posts on Facebook, it’s amazing cases. And I thought, that’s what I want to be doing. I want to do that sort of dentistry. And the one thing everyone was advocating was photography, and taking decent photos of your work. And that’s how you can reflect and improve. And so I’ve already been taking photos quite a bit, but I just saw trying to up that. And at least trying to get before and after or during procedure photos, maybe not full protocol. But that’s why I started to be able to just self critique my own work. And not just to work, critique your photographs, your ability to take a decent photo. And the reason then I wanted to do that was to build a portfolio and move into private practice. And then about two years ago, an opportunity came about actually, it was longer than that, because this opportunity came up for a private practice job that just came through one of the guys on the implant course said, there’s an implant position in Cornwall would you be interested is just as big as that. And I was on holiday with my wife and her family. And I didn’t tell her because she’d mentioned she I knew she would want to go back to Cornwall one day, that’s where her family’s from, so dragging my heels because things are going well. And but and so I applied for this job. I didn’t tell her. And the guy messaged me back saying, Yeah, sure. Any photos of your work and some x rays or whatever. I mean, by a pool in Portugal. Yeah, I got loads of pictures. And so I just picked out my favorites and send them off. That was my first sort of realization of, you know, actually the power of a portfolio. Just kind of build from there. And then the only problem with that was that when I got down to Cornwall I didn’t have that impetus and that drive to actually take photos anymore. It’s quite as much because I wasn’t going to necessarily be building a portfolio because this practice I was in, you know, the staff. I didn’t ever dream of being in the practice that I was in. I actually wasn’t even going to apply for the post when I found out which practice it was because they do a lot of work that I you know, almost didn’t feel worthy of

[Jaz]
Did you feel as though you had a term called and have you come across it imposter syndrome.

[Alan]
Know what, I don’t know if it was even imposter syndrome because I think imposter syndrome is where you don’t believe you’re kind of as good as you are. And I think I was you know, actually wasn’t good enough at that point. But I actually had the job offer 12 months before the job became available, which is a bit odd and so I just decided in that 12 months that I, if I don’t improve and get as good as I possibly can, in my basic dentistry, I’m going to sink when I get into this new job. So I took that 12 months and just nailed the basics, nailed Rubberdam, nailed my photography. And I just took it from there really And, yeah, the Instagram page that was purely I just started it because it was my new impetus to take photos, you know. And I said, a webinar the other night said, you know, there’s nothing like having a few thousand dentists see your cases and your photos. And, you know, it makes you just try that little bit harder to get, do those extra little bits that you think no one would see. And everybody benefits Really.

[Jaz]
Absolutely. I mean, I think a lot of people say this, and I and I wholly agree. The quickest way to improve your dentistry is by taking photos and blowing it up and zooming into the single teeth, putting it in social media, because you sort of have to get really got your comfort zone the first time you do it. I mean, I remember the first time I posted online, I was crapping myself. So what do people face out the way? Absolutely. So then the next question I’ve got for you now leading up to the saucy stuff of this episode is one thing I look at your cases

[Alan]
query about the money on it, just have a good time. Learn something from it. And it might not go to plan but something will and then you can

[Jaz]
this about getting started. Just put something on put something on social media and not because everyone else is doing it because it will actually make you a better dentist.

Jaz’s Outro: So thank you so much as always for listening all the way to the end. Join me for splintember. I think I’ve got got a couple more episodes for August coming out some good ones. Next one being on personal branding. We’ve got Shaz Memon from Digi max talking about personal branding, should you have a website as an associate? Should you have a logo? Do you have the audacity to have a logo and you only one year qualified? We’re gonna be talking about this sort of stuff. And don’t worry, the answer is not very harsh at all. So we are going into deep into websites and that sort of stuff. So join us for Next Episode and of course splintember in September, which I’m really looking forward to. Thanks for those of you who’ve signed up for the waiting list on occlusion2020.com we’ve got a few non people there will be contacting closer time and have an awesome week guys. Thanks for joining me

Hosted by
Jaz Gulati
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