Ahead of the curve

Dr Bill Schaeffer explains how embracing digital dentistry and investing in state-of- the-art technology has helped him stay in front of the competition.

Dentist Dr Bill Schaeffer, co-founder of The Implant Centres in Brighton & Hove and in Hayward’s Heath, West Sussex, is something of a trailblazer in the dental world. A man unused to doing things by halves, he trained not just as a dentist but also as a medical doctor, and a few years ago, his practice became the first in the UK to buy a cone beam CT (CBCT) scanner from flagship digital imaging company Vatech.

So keen was Dr Schaeffer to take his implant surgery to the next level, that he purchased his machine – the Picasso Trio SP(CT machine) – all the way from Korea, before the UK Vatech branch had even opened.


Dr Schaeffer, a registered specialist oral surgeon, has been placing implants since 1996 and has gone on to become one of the most experienced implant dentists in the UK, pioneering techniques now used worldwide. The use of cutting-edge technology is a critical component of these achievements.

‘Mine was the first dental practice in the UK to buy a cone beam (CB) CT scanner from Ewoo Vatech, way back in the summer of 2006,’ Dr Schaeffer explains. ‘I had done my homework and I knew every CBCT scanner available in the world at that time.’

With Vatech yet to open in the UK, Dr Schaeffer had to buy the machine ‘unseen’. ‘I had no chance to see one in action. It was, therefore, a bit of a punt,’ he says. The gamble paid dividends. ‘We weren’t disappointed at any stage,’ says Dr Schaeffer. ‘The machine was delivered and installed ahead of schedule and they even worked with the local medical physics department to ensure there were no surprises getting the appropriate IRMER certification completed.’


According to Dr Schaeffer, the Picasso Trio CBCT machine has transformed the planning and diagnostic capacity of the practice. Taking both true OPGs and CBCT imaging, it’s a far cry from the old days, when patients were sent to hospitals for medical CT scans. The hospital procedure involved scanning the whole head – resulting in more radiation for the patient and poorly targeted images for the dentist.


Another benefit that Dr Schaeffer appreciates is that, with the Vatech system, both the clinician and the patient are able to see the clinical situation on the screen and he can talk through the necessary treatment.

The Vatech Ewoo software is so accurate that the dentist can plan treatments directly onto the scan. This means that, invariably, the implants chosen from the software will be the exact ones used during the procedure itself. Plus, unlike standard X-rays that are two-dimensional, the three-dimensional CT gives both vertical and horizontal images and reveals the depth and shape of the jawbone. These are critical for implant planning, allowing the dentist to pre-empt any problems.


When asked about what the future holds for dentistry, Dr Kothari says: ‘In the future, I think CBCT imaging and the use of digital X-rays should be the norm in every practice. Patient awareness is greater than it has even been and I think that is set to grow. With this in mind, the more knowledge we can impart to our patients the better. And because it is a litigious society, dentists need to be armed with the best tools so that they feel a lot more confident in what they’re delivering treatment-wise.

‘For all that, our diagnoses have to be a lot clearer, and digital imaging is a big part of achieving clinical success.’

It has been eight years since Dr Schaeffer purchased his original Vatech Picasso Trio and he says the machine continues to ‘work beautifully’. Glitches are rare, but when these do occur, Vatech is able to remotely log onto the computer system and sort out the issue on the spot.

‘That’s a huge bonus when you run a busy implant clinic and you’re using the machine all the time.’

In fact, so impressed was Dr Schaeffer with the equipment and service he received from Vatech, that in 2011, when he opened a second implant clinic, they purchased the Vatech Ewoo Pax-Duo3D – which he describes as ‘a very powerful little machine’.

Like the Picasso Trio scanner, the Pax-Duo3D takes both true OPGs (orthopantomograms) as well as CBCT scans, but this upgraded model has a variable field of view, allowing for a variety of scan sizes. Smaller sizes are ideal for planning single tooth implants, allowing the clinician to get the perfect image, while the patient receives as low a dose of radiation as possible.

‘The scans are much more versatile, allowing you to image just the region of interest,’ explains Dr Schaeffer.

The images can be used for diagnosis, bone assessment and to determine the precise location of vital structures when planning a treatment. An Auto-Switching system also allows the dentist to change the scan mode between panoramic and 3D.

Dr Schaeffer has no regrets about purchasing the second, more advanced, Vatech machine. ‘Again, Ewoo Vatech couldn’t do enough for us in the installation and set-up of our second scanner and in the training of our staff – they were simply great.

Like our first scanner, this one has run faultlessly for the last three years. It takes stunningly clear images, is extremely reliable and the back-up and support from Vatech is rapid and thorough.’

In short, by investing in state-of-the-art technology, Dr Schaeffer remains at the front of the curve, and would urge others to follow his lead in embracing digital dentistry.


PUBLISHED IN Private Dentistry, November 2014

DENTIST : Dr. Bill Schaeffer

EQUIPMENT : PaX-Duo3D 12x8.5cms

DENTAL PRACTICE : The Implant Centres

ADDRESS : 61 Holland Road, Palmeira Square, Hove, East Sussex BN3 1JN

TEL : 01273 766 690