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Dr Frank Spear Headlines BACD Annual Conference

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  Posted by: Dental Design      19th February 2023

The BACD 18th Annual Conference was a fine display of the clinical excellence strived for by all members. It provided three days of education, inspiration, hands-on workshops and networking, with delegates enjoying their trip to the Newport countryside in Wales.

There were many reasons to attend, but headline speaker – Dr Frank Spear – was a massive draw for most. Acclaimed around the globe and known as one of the premier educators in aesthetic and restorative dentistry, Frank is truly a leading light in the field. He has received numerous awards and accolades over the years, in recognition of his contribution to clinical excellence and research in the profession. Having not visited the UK in over a decade, the BACD Annual Conference provided a rare opportunity to hear him speak in-person.

Chris McConnell – now the BACD Immediate Past President – stated that he was “delighted, honoured and privileged to welcome Dr Frank Spear, an absolute leader in the field”. 

Sharing that his own “experience of the BCAD has always been so positive”, Frank took to the stage to begin his full day session on “The Art of Treatment Planning: Integrating Minimally Invasive Principals in the Management of Complex Dental Problems”. He began by crediting his working relationships with Vince Kokich and Dave Matthews over the years as the cornerstone of much of his success, highlighting that even someone with as much experience as him appreciates a network for support and a second clinical opinion.

Though several definitions exist, Frank’s preferred explanation for what minimally invasive dentistry really means is Bob Barkely’s: “The goal of dentistry is to make the patient worse at the slowest possible rate”. This was the philosophy behind his entire session as he encouraged delegates to change their approach to treatment planning, in order to protect maximum natural tissue for each and every patient. Despite the rapid growth and many advantages of dental implants, it is important for these to always be the last resort treatment. There is nowhere to go after implant placement and if treating a young patient, this could create difficulties later down the line – implants are designed to last several decades!

Frank talked about balancing risk versus reward, management versus cure. In some situations, especially with patients in their teenage years or early 20s, it is better to provide minimal intervention and just see how the teeth do over time. He showed case reports of how long natural teeth can last with minimal treatment, even in scenarios where extraction might have been justified. For example, Frank demonstrated cases of resorbed roots on upper laterals remaining in situ for 27 years with just a splint and composite, and cases of retained primary teeth lasting for many decades. He had also seen patients with horizontal root fractures keep the tooth for just as many years, using just a splint again.

By delaying extraction, the dentist can buy the patient extra years before more invasive solutions are needed. In addition, products and techniques are always improving, so there is a chance that five or even 10 years down the line there might be a better treatment option for that patient. This can also help the patient to save money and manage their expenses. Of course, the potential disadvantages and risks must be understood by the patient, which would include emergency crown fracture or the loss of the restoration and impact on adjacent teeth.

Knowing when to do nothing (or very little) and when extraction is necessary is key. Frank discussed an algorithm for clinical decision making that focused on understanding the consequences of each treatment option available – including doing nothing. Extraction would still be indicated where there was untreatable pain or infection, an unrestorable tooth, uncontrollable mobility, a risk to the adjacent teeth, or as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. The patient’s age would also be an important factor – it is essential to find the most conservative solution for younger patients who need dental treatment to last them the many years of their remaining lifespan. Ultimately, the dentist needs to know how long there has been an issue with the tooth in question, whether it is getting worse and how much it is impacting the patient’s life. From here, the best decision can be made.

Delegate Dr Stuart Goddard of Spires Dental Clinic commented:

“Frank Spear was the reason I came to the Conference. It’s great to see him in person and I really enjoyed the session. I have also visited a few trade stands to browse. I have been a member of the BACD for about 5-6 years and intend to go for Accreditation soon.”

Dr Sonal Patel said:

“The Conference has provided some really good content and fantastic speakers. I attend the BACD Annual Conference to keep myself up-to-date and to hear from great speakers. I also looked round the exhibition and bought some composite instruments, which was useful.”

It may seem like a long time away, but the BACD 19th Annual Conference will be here before you know it. Some of the headline speakers have already been announced – check out the website for the latest information and to secure your place for 2023!


BACD 19th Annual Conference

New Horizons

9-11 November 2023


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