DSD has evolved from a technique into a philosophy of modern esthetic rehab clinics- Dr Coachman
Dr Christian Coachman, the founder and CEO of the DSD-Digital Smile Design company, is well-known for combining his advanced skills, experience and technology solutions. He pioneered the Digital Smile Design methodology and founded Digital Smile Design company (DSD). Since its inception, thousands of dentists worldwide have attended DSD courses, workshops, and the renowned DSD Residency program. In this article, Dr Christian Coachman is interviewed by Dr Rajiv Verma, a popular name in Indian dentistry known for decades of dental education and also for his long association with Digital Smile Design.
- Dr Christian Coachman, the founder and CEO of the DSD-Digital Smile Design company, is well-known for combining his advanced skills, experience and technology solutions. He pioneered the Digital Smile Design methodology and founded Digital Smile Design company (DSD). Since its inception, thousands of dentists worldwide have attended DSD courses and workshops, such as the renowned DSD Residency program.
- Apart from Digital Smile Design, Dr Coachman is the developer of several other globally popular concepts such as Pink Hybrid Implant Restoration, Digital Planning Center, Emotional Dentistry, Interdisciplinary Treatment Simulation and Digital Smile Donator.
- Dr Coachman has worked with some of the world’s most renowned dentists, such as Eric Van Dooren (Belgium), Galip Gurel (Turkey), Mauro Fradeani (Italy), Nitzan Bichacho (Israel), Andrea Ricci (Italy), Mario Groisman (Brazil) and Marcelo Calamita (Brazil).
- In 2004, Dr Coachman was invited by Drs. Goldstein, Garber, and Salama, to join Team Atlanta as the Head Ceramist of their laboratory – a position he held for 5 years.
- He is one of the most renowned speakers in the international dental lecturing circuit and has published internationally in the fields of esthetic and digital dentistry, oral rehabilitation, innovation and trends, communication and marketing strategies in dentistry.
Q. 1 ) Can you tell us all about getting conceived, pregnant & delivering DSD to the World of Dentistry?
Conceiving DSD was a consequence of 2 factors: my character of never being satisfied with the status quo and my desire to be more efficient and successful as a technician and smile designer. When I started as a ceramist, I realized that even though I was lucky to work with great clinicians, there was still a lot of room for improvement. My goal was to create a workflow to increase my chances of delivering better smiles, more predictably with less stress. In my opinion, there was too much guessing and too much waste of energy adjusting things in the mouth. I wanted to improve the process, invest more energy on planning outside the mouth to minimize the work in the mouth. I learned that our most valuable time is our chairside time. More valuable from the technical, psychological and financial standpoint. So I started to list everything that I thought I could do better to improve team communication, technical and clinical execution and I started to work on creating solutions to these points. The combination of these solutions that I was able to put together I called Digital Smile Design Concept. As soon as I saw the effectiveness of the solutions I naturally started to share with colleagues. People got immediately really interested in it so I started to organize courses, and in a few years, it was all over the world. By the way, right now we are celebrating a decade of DSD.
Q. 2 ) Now that we know about the birth of your baby (DSD), can you elaborate on its initial journey especially with Keynote & Powerpoint?
So at the beginning technology was limited. 3D was not a reality. Since I was always passionate about education, even before DSD, I was very familiar with Keynote and PowerPoint. I was in charge of putting together not only my lectures but the lectures of many of the doctors that I was working for as a ceramist. I loved it. Translating our nice cases into lectures was a great hobby for me. I always loved to explore better ways to educate people, express our ideas and decision-making process. So I was never into just showing off a beautiful case, I wanted to teach people about why we were doing what we were doing in each step of the rehabilitation. So I became an expert on using Keynote/PowerPoint to visually explain all the decisions and what was done. What naturally happened was that I realized that in many cases I ended up understanding much better the case as I was building the lecture of the case after the case was done. I was able to identify mistakes that we did or bad decisions or possible improvements. I was becoming an expert of the ideal plan for that particular case a little too late since the case was already finished. So I realized that all the slides I was building, all drawings and graphics that I was producing were the great ways to explore the case and should be done before performing and not after. So I decided to transform Keynote/PowerPoint into my "Dental Software" to organize the patient documentation, develop a possible smile design, create simulations, explore the functional-esthetic integration, and communicate with the team. It also naturally became the best way to present treatment plans to patients. The final development was to find a way to connect the 2D design from Keynote to the working model, so I developed the Digital Ruler and the workflow to transfer the information from the slide to the diagnostic wax-up and then into the smile test drive with the motivational mock-up. That's how the DSD slogan started: Design>Plan>Sell with Keynote.
Q. 3 ) When did you realise that you needed to develop a software or an App for DSD & why did you feel the need for it?
Around 2013 the DSD workflow was useful and I was travelling all over the world to teach it. But it was clear that a 2D digital plus 3D handmade was good but not ideal. A full 3D digital solution was necessary. That's when I started to collaborate with the software company Nemotec to bring all these ideas into a complete facially driven interdisciplinary software platform. This solution is still today the main one we use but it is quite complex and aimed for software expert users not for clinicians. So I always had in my mind the idea of creating an easy starting point that could substitute the initial Keynote 2D design and link into the 3D world to allow dentists to control the case without having to buy or learn complex technology. In my vision, when it comes to technology, Dentists should do the easy part and outsource the complex part.
Q. 4 ) I have been with you since the beginning of the DSD journey, I feel DSD has matured a lot in the last 10 years? When did it come to your mind to shift from manual DSD protocols to more predictable digital protocols?
As I always say: "High quality handmade is for few, high-quality digital is for all". I believe that through good and realistic digital workflows we can democratize quality. Digital, when well understood, can help more dentists serve better more patients. That is an obvious reason why every smart company in any area digitalizes all systems. It is to standardize the quality of products, procedures and services. Dentistry is not different. The clinics pursuing digitalization will increase their chances of delivering quality care and consequently increasing the chances of success.
Q. 5 ) Earlier the word 'DIGITAL' in DSD had a different meaning, now I feel the same word in DSD has the perfect meaning? What is your take on it?
Yes, you are correct, when I started using the name Digital Smile Design-DSD, it was more focused on the technicality of designing better smiles with the help of digital tools. Now the concept is much broader and has become a full set of strategies to transform a dental office from doing everyday dentistry into doing exclusive life-changing dentistry. So in the beginning, DSD was a technique, nowadays it is a whole philosophy of how to manage this modern smile rehabilitation clinic from all aspects.
Q. 6) The present 'NEW DSD' is much easier, predictable & more accurate is for sure, how did you or with whose help you enhanced the New DSD Protocol?
As I mentioned before, DSD became a whole philosophy of how to manage a modern clinic. So it involves new strategies to market, to organize the team, to implement communication protocols, to improve treatment planning and case acceptance, to implement digital technologies, to perform better clinical and technical procedures, etc... So to answer this question I need to know which part of the DSD concept are you talking about. If you are talking about the process of designing a smile in harmony with a face and consequently diagnosing the problems and planning the solutions, yes the workflow is much more efficient today. It's just a natural evolution. We've been doing it for so long that now we know how to do it better, technology is also more mature, doctors are also more acquainted with digital solutions. So it's just a natural process of evolution and it will continue to get better. For example, we learned how to train designers to design beautiful smiles so now we can deliver more and better designs. We learned how to standardize as much as possible the process of treatment planning so now our support is more effective and doctors using us are making better decisions for their patients with our help. Nobody in the world did more facially driven smile designs than us and more 3D digital interdisciplinary planning than us, so we are becoming better and better with it. We are the first and still the only Interdisciplinary Planning Center in the world and the fact that despite our success other companies didn't explore creating similar services shows how challenging it is to create a team and use proper technology to help doctors benefit from super complex treatment planning principles that we learned from mentors.
Q. 7) In the last 10 years, you have literally grown leaps & bounds with the help of DSD, who all you think contributed to your success story. Is it the DSD World Tour, DSD Instructors & Opinion Leaders, Family, can you tell us more about it?
Ohhh... this is a long list of people. So many people helped me. I learned from so many. DSD is a consequence of all the incredible people that crossed my life. Starting with my visionary father, my first mentor. Also because of my mother, a great storyteller and teacher that never settled with the status quo. I grew up learning from them how to think outside the box, how to be creative and how to believe in your dreams. My passion for smile rehabilitation was empowered by my early dental mentors, Drs Paulo Kano and Dario Adolfi, great Dentists and Technicians. My life-lasting partnership with Dr Marcelo Calamita was crucial for my development in the functional side of dentistry. My 5 years working with Team Atlanta transformed me into an international speaker. My years in Europe working with Drs Van Dooren, Gurel, Bichaho, Fradeani and Ricci made me a great ceramist and smile designer. During the early days of DSD, Livio Yoshinaga and Florin Cofar helped me develop some very important parts of the Concept. From 2013 on I started to meet several great businessmen and marketers that helped me learn the other side of DSD, the non-clinical one. But above all I'm very proud of the existing team that I was able to build, starting with my family that is involved in the business and all existing DSD partners. I learn so much from all of them every day. I always knew that success is not about being great in so many things but instead, building great teams. I don't have a business background and I'm not a professional CEO, but I'm proud of the fact that I was able to attract great people since the beginning.
Q. 8) How & when did the idea of Worldwide DSD CLINICS come in your brain, how many DSD Clinics are already functioning & what is your target number in coming years?
So, this is the most important DSD project today. The whole company's efforts are towards making the DSD Clinics projects a success. We realized that DSD ideas are not mainstream ideas, they fit perfectly to a more exclusive group of clinic owners that understand and value the DSD solutions. We realized that we are better serving a smaller group with super quality than creating average solutions for thousands to use. All DSD services and products are super exclusive and depend on very high-end people that are hard to scale. So to keep the quality we need to stay exclusive. So "DSD Exclusive" is the DSD Clinics project. We decided we will invest energy on the ones that can envision us as their main partner to succeed. So from everybody that does our courses worldwide, we handpick the ones that fit this profile and we start the journey together by incorporating all DSD ideas, training their staff and preparing their facilities. This is what we call the DSD journey and it starts after the course. Usually, in 3 to 6 months the clinics are ready to get our official DSD stamp and marketing and become part of the worldwide DSD Clinic network. Today we have 60 clinics in the network and dozens on the pipeline. Every clinic has exclusivity in their area and also access to our exclusive design and planning services. From diagnosis to final restorations, from emotional dentistry to marketing.
Q. 9) DSD Planning Center the present & the future of Dentistry for sure, can you tell us more about it?
As I said, we are very proud of the DSD Planning Center. The concept of an Interdisciplinary Center that uses high-end 3D technologies and has a top interdisciplinary team to give unique support to dentists so they can perform better in what I believe is the most difficult part of dentistry: diagnostics and planning. It's a concept that we invented, we are still the only ones but I believe this will be the norm in the future and many companies will provide similar support. Dentists need help with planning and technology adoption and that's exactly what we do. We shorten the learning curve for the doctor, we allow doctors to benefit from technology without having to learn or buy all the technology. It's common sense today that technology can help doctors make better decisions for their patients, better diagnostics, better planning, better communication and better execution. So our goal is to bring all these benefits to the patients of our dentist users.
Q. 10) A personal question - How did you rope in your whole family into making a DSD Company & the bigger question how did they all agree? Is it the trust in you, is it that they believed in you like I have been believing you & trusting you since we met in 2011 or did they see a business potential? Very hard to find such examples in today's world.
Good question. Since ever we've been working together. During dental school, my brother and I were already working for my father. When I started DSD my mom needed a job so I hired her as my assistant. She still works today for DSD. As DSD grew a little, I needed more help and my younger brother John was tired of his existing job so I invited him to join. He's been growing in the company since then and became a partner in the business. My older brother was the right arm of my father in our clinic in Brazil and was doing an excellent job as a clinician and as a treatment planner but he wanted to move away from Brazil and have an international experience with the whole family. At this point, I was building the idea of the DSD Planning Center in partnership with Nemotec and my former business partner from Madrid. We decided that Madrid would be the best place to start this project so I invited my brother to move to Madrid and run it. He did it and today he is still the director of the DSD Planning Center together with his wife. My sister did my social media and PR for a while and now she has her own career. Just a few months ago my older son finished his business school and joined the company and is doing a great job already. Anyway, DSD started as a family business and I feel very privileged to work with my family. I admire them and I'm 100% sure that despite the challenges of working with family, the company is much stronger because of family.
Q.11) When are you getting pregnant again with an idea or a concept & when do you intend to deliver your next baby to the World of Dentistry? Knowing you quiet well, I am sure you are already having one in your brain.
Hahaha. There is so much work to be done in the DSD company today to make all the DSD ideas become a reality for more dentists that honestly, I don't have much time to think about new things right now. For 1 decade we came up with so many good ideas, now it's time to make them an even more seamless routine for us and for our DSD clinicians.
Q. 12) According to me, it is time for the next DSD World Tour, are you planning for the same?
Yes! The 2021/22 season is being planned right now. During the years of 2013-14 and 15 we created the DSD World Tour concept and I was all over, being on the road an average of ⅔ of the year and giving DSD courses every other week everywhere around the globe. From 2016 till 2019 we created the DSD Residency program and decided to stop the world tour and only give courses in our centres. So from me going to everybody everywhere we decided to invite people to come to us. It worked very well. Then Covid came… Now we have a feeling that after all this stress and seeing how much people want to be with us in person and wanting to open new markets again, we decided to create a DSD Residency World Tour. Starting in the second half of 2021 we will be in Madrid, London, Germany, Italy, Shanghai, Tokyo, Sydney, Miami and LA. See you all in 2021/22!!!
Q. 13) One last question, What is that one all-important lesson you learnt in life during the pandemic & what is your message to the Dentists worldwide?
I learned some very important lessons this year. The main thing I learned was that many things feel important in life but only a few things are really important. Another lesson that I learned is that we, high-class western society, are all very spoiled, discomfort and uncertainty drives us crazy, so we should stop taking for granted our amazing lifestyle and we need to understand better the consequences to the world of keeping our lifestyle. Another lesson is that I realize how much I love people, friendships and in-person interactions and that's another thing that I will never take for granted again as well.
Dr Rajiv Verma:
A graduate of Government Dental College & Hospital, Mumbai, Dr Rajiv Verma is in the field of dentistry for 34 long years, his command on the subject of Clinical Prosthodontics has been witnessed till date by more than 30000+ dentists & 3800+ hands-on course participants in his 600+ lectures, presentations, live on patient demos, live on video shows at Famdent Conferences, WDA, DDS, FDI-CDE Programmes, Local, State & at National IDA Conferences & at his 247 Hands-On Course Batches of Porcelain Veneers, Crown & Bridge, Bonded Restorations and 26 batches of DSD - Digital Smile Design at his clinic at Thane, at ICODE, Delhi & at 8 more centres across India. His is one of the longest-running course in India.