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Digital Dentistry: Ronald Chan

With its focus on digital dentistry and cutting-edge dental prostheses, Modern Dental Group is perfectly poised to cater to rising interest in oral health and dental aesthetics, according to Chair and Executive Director Dr Ronald Chan.

Having a gleaming set of pearly whites wasn’t always such a priority. Indeed, in 1986, when Dr Ronald Chan’s father first established Modern Dental Group, dental prosthesis was something of a rarity in Hong Kong.

"Modern Dental Group was one of the first industry pioneers providing a more systemic way to manufacture dental prostheses," Chan tells The CEO Magazine. "Back then and now, the vision of Modern Dental Group has always been pretty simple – restoring smiles by creating better quality dental prostheses. We strive to help patients regain an aesthetic and functional smile."

Taking the lead from his dental technician father, Chan obtained his bachelor’s degree in Canada, then went to the University of Hong Kong to obtain a Bachelor of Dental Surgery followed by a Master of Dental Aesthetics from the University of Manchester. "I wanted to get a full understanding of the clinical side of dentistry as well, to further improve our products and offerings to the patients," he explains.

With all this newly acquired knowledge behind him, Chan joined the dental company in 2014. But it was while practicing as a dentist at the hospital that he started to see the possibilities.

New possibilities

"Patients don’t really love going to the dentist, usually because of fear of the discomfort or pain during treatment," he says. "I saw many opportunities from a clinical angle that can bring about a better, more comfortable treatment for patients."

Compared to five years ago, the time it takes for a dentist to do an implant surgery now can be much quicker, more accurate and with a smaller incision.

He saw digital dentistry as a solution to this age-old problem, decreasing patient discomfort and enhancing the clinical experience. Over the last few years, as Chair and Executive Director, he has been actively guiding the Group to invest more heavily in digital methods of treatment and bringing dental innovations such as 3D printing and laser-sintering devices to Hong Kong.

"Compared to five years ago, the time it takes for a dentist to do an implant surgery now can be much quicker, more accurate and with a smaller incision. The wound is a lot smaller," Chan reveals. "That’s because we’re now able to print certain medical guides to guide the implant placement without the need to make big incisions. Typically, patients feel less post-operative pain and discomfort."

In the longer term, he intends to provide dentists with yet more solutions that will continue to improve the patient experience, a shift that has been accelerated by the recent pandemic. Even though dentistry felt its impact with clinics closing as people feared catching COVID-19, it created the ideal conditions for Modern Dental Group’s digital transformation.

Before the pandemic, dentists would take a mold of their clients’ teeth by injecting dental material directly into the mouth. Since the pandemic, fears of transmitting the virus meant that intraoral scanners were instead being used to scan the shape of the teeth.

"Basically I saw this as a golden opportunity to really push our digital workflow, digital education and solutions to dentists," Chan says. "That’s why, since the pandemic, the net profit for Modern Dental Group doubled in 2021 compared to the pre-pandemic levels in 2019."

Education is key

He sees that tremendous growth will continue over the coming years, with its digital platforms helping the company to minimize spiraling logistics costs. An aging population in many countries around the world means that demand for dental prostheses will continue to rise, which is why Modern Dental Group is increasing its focus on education.

"We deliver online education programs and live surgeries which can be streamed," he says. "Not only does this help us strengthen our relationship with dentists, but it also helps us stay on top of developments that are happening in the global dental industry."

Clear aligners also present a major opportunity for the company, with it launching its own brand called TrioClear in 2020. So far, it has been sold and distributed in more than 15 countries with further expansion on the horizon.

I have seen a lot of my patients increase their quality of life significantly just by improving oral health.

Modern Dental Group is also collaborating with dental hospitals on the mainland – such as high-end dental chain Arrail – in recognition of the importance of the Chinese market as public knowledge of oral hygiene and the per capita income grows. Meanwhile, it has a secondary production base in Vietnam, where it has hired and trained around 100 technicians, a number which is set to increase to around 1,000 in the next two-to-three years.

Although oral health has not been traditionally seen as much of a priority compared to other health issues, Chan sees a shift underway. "I have seen a lot of my patients increase their quality of life significantly just by improving oral health – it allows them to eat better and have more confidence. That’s why I’m passionate about what I’m doing," he says.

"As the economy unfolds and as we get out of this pandemic, people will be more inclined to care about oral health and dental aesthetics."

And Modern Dental Group will have the solutions that will help them to rediscover their smiles.

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