SmileFast Makeovers Are in Position to Bring UK Success to America

Feature
Article
Dental Products ReportDental Products Report October 2023
Volume 57
Issue 9

Cofounding dentists have developed a stent-based composite smile solution designed to be quick and affordable.

The SmileFast system has been produced by dentists to deliver esthetic smiles at an affordable price. | Image Credit: © SmileFast

The SmileFast system has been produced by dentists to deliver esthetic smiles at an affordable price. | Image Credit: © SmileFast

Everyone wants a beautiful smile. But not everyone can afford one and not every clinician can deliver one confidently.

That is why United Kingdom dentists Olumide Ojo, BDS, MFDS RCS, and Thomas Sealey, BChD, MMedEd, MSc Endo, worked together to develop SmileFast, a groundbreaking development in the delivery of customized and beautiful smile makeovers using either composite resin or dental ceramics (porcelain veneers).

The company cofounders came up with the idea for SmileFast after years of practicing dentistry and dealing with obstacles such as inconsistencies with predictable results and high costs that prevented many patients from getting the smiles they desired.

“We met on a dental skiing course and had talked,” says Dr Ojo, who practices out of central London. “We had pretty much the same problem but different approaches, or different concepts to it, and we had to find a solution. That’s really how SmileFast came about.”

Dr Sealey said the 2 clinicians started to swap stories about smile makeovers and issues that often prevented either successful results or patient acceptance for the treatments.

“We started, you know, confessing our sins to each other,” explains Dr Sealey, who had been performing several stent-based composite makeovers using traditional wax-ups and the every-other-tooth technique. “I must have done 5 or 6 cases like this and I found it incredibly difficult, and I also didn’t find it very predictable. The reality of it was it was so technique sensitive that the end results were not as accurate as I was hoping for.”

Dr Sealey had shared some of his smile makeover cases online and Dr Ojo started to think it might not be a bad idea if they worked together to develop a procedure that could package the stents and composites together to come away with improved outcomes in less time. The men departed the ski conference in France and headed back to England determined to master the process, which has now taken off in England and is starting to make inroads into the United States.

“I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could package this all together?” Dr Ojo says. “So it would be like a smile in a box very similar to how someone would go to a dentist for an Invisalign smile. They follow the entire pathway and they leave with the perfect smile. But imagine if we could do this with composite and have it not be too technique sensitive or too time-consuming.”

The pair returned to the UK and started researching digital techniques, model making, and how this might all come together to deliver an affordable, predictable smile makeover that could produce long-lasting results.

What came about was a process to create an accurate stent with separators, allowing clinicians to do up to 10 teeth all at the same time with 1 stent. This is possible because all the compartments are preseparated.

“You load the whole thing with composite, place it onto the teeth, cure it, take it off, and it’s done,” Dr Ojo explains. “That was the revolutionary step and that’s what we developed SmileFast on once we realized how good it was.”

SmileFast is now fully patent protected. This stent-delivered composite technique has gone to the next level and is now very accurate, very time efficient, and therefore very accessible to every dentist and to every patient who previously might not have been able to afford alternative treatments like ceramic veneers, the 2 clinicians say.

“That’s where SmileFast becomes so successful because it’s not just helping the dentist, but it’s also delivering a solution to patients and there is such a need for this solution out there,” Dr Sealey says. “That’s why the business has grown so fast in the last few years.”

Digital Dentistry Improves Accuracy

SmileFast is designed for patients as well as dentists and takes advantage of digital dentistry, something both clinicians have long advocated for.

“The big cornerstone of SmileFast is that everything that we plan is digitized, designed on the patient’s face then transferred into the patient’s mouth in the form of a trial smile, so that it’s perfected in the mouth. It takes away the element of guesswork,” Dr Ojo says.

Using digital wax-ups for digital design to the perfect parameters, then transferring and perfecting that smile means the dentist can deliver the final composite restorations and not just guess the thicknesses of the teeth or the axial inclinations.

“All of this is designed digitally perfect and corrected and then placed into the mouth,” Dr Ojo says. “So what we’re really able to deliver, as Tom says, is not just a solution, but a workflow. And the workflow takes the patient along with us. The patient knows what they’re getting. They know what they’re buying.”

If a SmileFast patient doesn’t like the look of something, if they want something longer or shorter, or they want a different shape of teeth, they have that choice. The cofounders add that while most dentists are brilliant technicians, they don’t often explain the procedure well enough for the patients to know exactly what to expect. With SmileFast’s workflow, this is not an issue.

“Once we deliver this trial smile into a patient’s mouth, the next thing the patient says is, ‘How soon can I book in?’ They’ve got the solution that they’re looking for and that for us has been one of the biggest things that patients are now coming in practices asking for SmileFast because it’s a process rather than just a solution,” Dr Ojo says.

Getting Started

Drs Ojo and Sealey came up with the SmileFast idea around late 2017, spent 6 months developing it, and worked to refine it so it would become a time-efficient process for dentists. They trialed the educational course—which includes a hands-on component teaching the SmileFast technique—on more than 15 dentists and close friends.

“It was incredible. The feedback was amazing,” says Dr Sealey, who has a private cosmetic practice out of Essex and who is an accredited member of The British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. “So we knew we had a good product.”

From there the developers tweaked the course, made a few refinements, and went fully live with SmileFast in late 2018. The company held 25 consecutive course days in 2020 to meet demand from clinicians looking to get started. Some days they had 2 courses on the same day, one in London and one in Manchester.

“It was insane,” Dr Sealey says. “I believe it’s something like 1 out of every 5 dentists in the UK has been trained on SmileFast. That’s how exciting this process is.”

He adds that many clinicians and patients are quick to share their satisfaction since going with this new smile makeover solution.

“It’s minimally invasive, very predictable, very cost-effective, time-efficient dentistry that completely transforms patients’ lives,” Dr Sealey says. “It’s amazing for us to see how SmileFast has helped these people and helped dentists to develop their careers. I think something like 10,000 smiles have been done over the last 5 years for patients so it’s a pretty incredible thing to be a part of.”

Dr Ojo says the courses and the workflows have evolved to make the SmileFast process even better for patients and clinicians alike. They’ve been able to refine and improve both the teaching and the solution, improving efficiencies along the way.

“A significant number of UK dentists are now trying SmileFast,” Dr Ojo says. “And it has given them the confidence to have a treatment plan. One of the things that is pretty unique with our system is yes, we talked about the solution, but we have a teaching element to our cases.”

For every case that is submitted, the dentist uploads the pictures and the stereolithography file or models to SmileFast, which then get uploaded onto a portal where at least 1 clinical dental mentor assesses the case along with a master technician. The cases are assessed both esthetically and functionally, and Dr Ojo says they actually deem about 10% of cases to be unsuitable for the process, which means they don’t take on cases unlikely to deliver great results.

“What we’re not doing, like some other systems might do, is just saying, ‘Yep, perfect. Bring it,’ ” Dr Ojo says. “We’re not trying to monetize it. What we’re trying to do is give a valued service.”

Initially the 2 founders assessed all the cases and oversaw the workflows. Now there’s a team of about 15 clinical mentors who assess the cases from across the UK and the US and provide treatment plans or a treatment proposal.

“We’ll identify the weaknesses or the things to consider because, again, not every case is a slam-dunk case,” says Dr Ojo. “We do have something called the traffic light system. We call it green for predictable cases, amber for those cases that require some augmentation before proceeding, and then, as I said, 10% of cases are deemed to be red cases, which we believe are outside the scope of traditional composite dentistry.”

With this system, the dentist is fully in control of the end outcome, with the ability to verify and make amendments to the digital setup. When that stage is complete, SmileFast digitally prints the models and sends them to the clinician, who takes the model to the office and transfers it into the patient’s mouth, where the second verification is done. When everyone is happy, it is transferred into the final step.

“That’s kind of how the process has allowed some dentists who weren’t confident but now it gives them a predictable platform beyond which they can say, ‘Let me submit the case. Let me get started.’ It has transformed the lives of a significant number of dentists as a result,” Dr Ojo says.

One thing that makes SmileFast unique is that it starts out with teaching how to assess a smile and how to deliver a classic veneer smile makeover to improve the esthetics. It teaches the process and the courses include hands-on training skills with composite bonding and smile design.

SmileFast has started to conduct courses in the US and clinicians are now using it and lecturing outside the UK. Information on courses can be found online at smilefastusa.com.

“We don’t think of SmileFast as just a solution-based system,” Dr Ojo says. “We’re offering it as an educational platform and an ecosystem where you can dip in and dip out where you need to, and really we’re thinking about just a holistic approach to make that patient journey a complete one. We’re sure that the patient can come in at any point and need a solution and we really believe that SmileFast can help the patient and the dentist on that journey.”

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