Becoming Proficient at Composite Bonding: Understanding Foundational Neurophysiology to Master the Skill

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A course covering the connection between neurophysiology and a mastery of composites, plus how composite bonding is the secret to dental practice growth.

The Presenter: Dr. Jerome Cha

Dr. Jerome Cha graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a BA in psychology and DDS in 1993. He has since worked in private practice with a focus on cosmetic and whole-body dentistry. Dr. Cha is an accredited member of the AACD and founder of the Dental QS Teaching Institute. 

One of Dr. Cha’s passions is training dental professionals on the neurophysiology of dentistry to help them develop their businesses by developing their minds. He also teaches about efficient composite bonding, full mouth rehabilitation, and other essential dental skills. He has lectured internationally and been published in several dental journals.

Overview: Neurophysiology and Composite Bonding

Mention composite bonding among dental professionals, and you’ll get mixed reactions. Some dentists absolutely hate working with composites. Those who find ways to get good at composite bonding, however, will be rewarded with rapid growth. In this webinar, Dr. Jerome Cha covers the following topics:

  • The business value of choosing composites over porcelains
  • Applying the 80/20 rule while mastering new skills
  • The artistry of composite bonding
  • Four stages of learning, and how to progress through them
  • Scaling a dental practice by learning the economics of dental composites

The webinar goes into great detail, and includes a Q&A session to address the most pressing questions dental professionals have on these topics.

The Value of Composites vs. Porcelains

Dr. Cha reports that, at his office in Tulsa, OK, composite bonding costs $1,800 per tooth while porcelain veneers cost $2,100 per tooth. In other words, the patient saves $300 by choosing composites. At the same time, Dr. Cha and his office can also make more money because using composites is less expensive for the practice. This creates a situation in which both the practice and the patient benefit financially.

The 80/20 Rule

To unlock the benefits of composite bonding for patients and practices, dental professionals must be able to perform the procedure with confidence. The 80/20 principle applies here: It will take 20% of the total learning time to gain basic foundational skills and yield 80% of the result. After learning the foundational skills of composite bonding, it takes a much greater investment of time to master the artistry of composites and produce truly beautiful work.

Four Stages of Learning (and Neurophysiological Responses at Each Stage)

Unfortunately, learning can be painful, especially in the early stages. Dr. Cha’s review of these stages help dentist’s to appreciate what it’s like to learn a new skill (such as composite dentistry), even when they already have their professional training.

Most learning experiences look something like this:

  1. Struggle. It’s frustrating to be new at something. The brain may release stress hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine.
  2. Motivation. The amygdala triggers a fight or flight response, often alongside a dopamine release. This can feel stressful, but might also yield a sense of courage as the student visualizes the desired outcome.
  3. Data Collection. Discipline and daily habits are the keys to efficiency here. Healthy habits and routines can help the student enter the flow state, deriving greater enjoyment and superior results.
  4. Discovery. Data collection helps the brain create new neural connections, and “the spark” is never far behind. Now the student reaps the rewards of new skills and solutions.

Fortunately, in these four stages of learning, the discomfort is front-loaded. The first step is the hardest on the way to learning the craft that can transform dental practices.

Michelangelo on Composite Bonding

Before Michelangelo could create his statue of David, he had to know exactly what David looked like. The masterpiece would not have been possible without Michelangelo’s intimate knowledge of human anatomy: Muscle tissue, skeletal structure, and veins. He had to sketch numerous renditions before he got every detail just right. Similarly, dentists must practice relentless attention to detail when planning composite work.

Michelangelo said he knew his statues when they were still in blocks of marble, so he could remove everything that wasn’t part of the statue. In practice, creating a beautiful composite is similar. A skilled dentist adds wax to make it bigger than the desired final shape, then carves with tools to shape the tooth. The process gets easier with sufficient research and preparation.

A Dentist’s Palette

Picking the appropriate color for composite bonding requires a similar level of patience, care, and artistry.  All things considered, there are eight steps to creating a two-layer composite with internal staining:

  1. Select shade
  2. Remove caries or defective previous restorations
  3. Build up fractured or missing tooth structure (micro or nano-hybrid)
  4. Build fully contoured tooth (micro or nano-hybrid)
  5. Cut back
  6. Add effects or tinting
  7. Final translucent, microfill composite layer
  8. Finish and polish

This process is where the science and art of composite bonding meet. As with other forms of art, it takes dedicated practice to produce beautiful work.

Economics of Composites: Scaling Your Business

Whether performing composite bonding procedures or anything else, Dr. Cha notes that business growth relies on multiple variables: number of patients (bonus points for attracting the right patients), price, and frequency. These variables are all multipliers:

Number of Patients X Price X Frequency = Revenue

Therefore, increasing any variable by x% will also increase the total revenue by x%. Adding composite bonding services helps dental professionals take greater control over those factors. When a dental practice attracts more visits by offering fantastic composite bonding, revenue responds dramatically.

This webinar, Becoming Proficient at Composite Bonding: Understanding Foundational Neurophysiology to Master the Skill, also includes a Q&A with the audience.