Shammi Gumbhir, Founder-cum-Managing Director at Unicorn DenMart Ltd, cannot stress enough how essential it is for medical students to practice with the latest available technology. Gumbhir, who is also the Secretary at the Association of Dental Industry and Trade of India (ADITI), puts his viewpoints on the various aspects of dental education and industries in a conversation with Education Post’s Tanay Kumar.
You had done your graduation in electrical and electronics engineering. What made you to turn towards venturing into dental equipment business?
Indeed, my educational background is in electrical and electronics engineering. At first glance, this may seem quite distinct from the dental industry. However, I firmly believe that the underlying principles of problem-solving, innovation, and technical comprehension that I honed during my engineering studies have universal applicability across diverse industries.
When an opportunity to venture into dental equipment business presented itself, I recognized the potential to employ my skills within a new context. I observed that the dental industry, particularly in India, was ready for the integration of advanced technology and the enhancement of equipment to improve patient care and comfort. Moreover, I noticed a significant need for a broader selection of high-quality, reliable dental equipment in the Indian market.
Always intrigued by challenges and driven by the prospect of making a difference, I made the decision to pivot towards this industry. My technical background has proved invaluable in understanding the mechanics of the dental equipment we deal with. My overarching aim has always been to bring the best of global dental equipment advancements to our local market.
The gap between the industry and academia of the Indian education system is obvious and industries often avert to take fresh graduates as they lack industry experience. What is the scenario when it comes to the dental equipment and instruments and the academics related to it?
Certainly, bridging the gap between academia and industry poses a significant challenge in many sectors in India, with the dental and medical equipment industry being no exception. From an academic perspective, engineering students mostly receive theoretical training on various subjects, often lacking exposure to advanced equipment and technologies currently in professional use. This situation can lead to a challenging transition for new graduates entering the workforce.
From an industry standpoint, the relentless development of innovative dental technology and equipment necessitates continuous learning, even for seasoned professionals. This ongoing evolution can be especially challenging for new graduates, who may not have been exposed to such advancements during their academic training.
However, there are multiple strategies to address these challenges. For instance, fostering partnerships between industry and educational institutions could ensure students gain hands-on experience with the latest equipment and technologies. While we see this collaboration happening in areas like IT, automobile, and various electronics manufacturing segments, it’s still lagging in the medical equipment sector. That said, at Unicorn DenMart Ltd., we emphasize the importance of continuous learning and professional development, enabling our team to stay updated and proficient in handling new technology products and supporting existing ones.
We consider education for our users to be a pivotal part of our mission. We consistently strive to provide training and awareness for dental practitioners regarding the use and benefits of advanced dental equipment, ensuring they can deliver the best possible care to their patients.
Unicorn DenMart has a strong workforce with both BDS+MDS and technical qualifications. What challenges arise when a dentist has to explain their needs for a device for dental equipments?
The intersection where healthcare meets technology is indeed fascinating. On one hand, we have dental professionals with BDS and MDS degrees who possess deep clinical knowledge and understand patient needs. On the other hand, we have engineers who are adept at designing and handling sophisticated dental equipment. Bridging the gap between these two disciplines can present certain challenges.
The primary challenge lies in effective communication. Dentists articulate their needs based on clinical experiences, patient interactions, and diagnostic considerations. They talk in terms of dental procedures, patient comfort, and treatment outcomes. In contrast, the engineering team thinks in terms of specifications, functionality, and the technical constraints of a device. Thus, translating the dentist’s needs into a language that engineers can understand and implement is crucial, and often a challenging task.
Another challenge arises from the differing perspectives on what constitutes a ‘good’ device. For a dentist, a good device is user-friendly, reliable, and enhances patient comfort and treatment outcomes. For an engineer, it’s about technical superiority, innovation, and precision. Aligning these perspectives to create devices that satisfy both parties is another significant hurdle.
At Unicorn DenMart, we address these challenges through close collaboration. Our teams are multidisciplinary, encompassing a mix of clinical and technical expertise. This diversity enables effective communication and mutual understanding, which in turn facilitates the development of dental equipment that truly meets the needs of dental practitioners and improves patient care.
In 2020, Unicorn DenMart launched Sculpt3d, a platform to provide 3D Printing solutions in the dental care of the country. Please tell us something about this platform and how 3D printing can change the dental care sector in the future?
Sculpt3d, one of our most ambitious initiatives at Unicorn DenMart, is a platform designed to bring 3D printing technology to the forefront of dental care in India. The primary objective of Sculpt3d is to revolutionize dental procedures, making them more precise, efficient, and customizable.
3D printing, or additive manufacturing, possesses the potential to transform numerous aspects of dental care. It enables dental professionals to create highly accurate dental models for diagnostic purposes, and even produce custom dental prosthetics, such as crowns, bridges, and orthodontic aligners. The precision offered by 3D printing ensures a superior fit and improved patient comfort, reducing the number of visits and adjustments required.
Moreover, 3D printing can dramatically accelerate dental laboratory procedures. Traditional methods can take days or even weeks to fabricate dental prosthetics, whereas 3D printing can achieve the same results in a matter of hours. This increase in productivity not only benefits dental practices but also significantly reduces the waiting time for patients.
Sculpt3d aims to make these advantages accessible to dental practitioners across India. Through this platform, we offer a variety of 3D printing solutions and services, ranging from providing 3D printers suitable for dental applications, to offering training and support to help practitioners integrate this technology into their practices. We firmly believe that 3D printing represents the future of dentistry, and we are committed to leading the way in this exciting area.
As an industry veteran, what challenges do you observe that dentists and dental students are facing today in India?
In my experience, several challenges are currently facing dentists and dental students in India.
Firstly, there is a significant lack of practical exposure to advanced dental technologies and procedures. Many dental students graduate with an emphasis on theoretical aspects, but without sufficient hands-on experience with the latest equipment and technology. This gap can hinder their ability to provide optimal care when they enter the profession.
Secondly, numerous regions in India, particularly rural areas, are grappling with inadequate dental care facilities. This disparity in access to quality dental care between urban and rural regions is a substantial issue that necessitates attention.
Lastly, financial barriers often pose challenges. High-quality dental equipment can be costly, which might prevent some clinics from offering the best possible treatments.
At Unicorn DenMart, we strive to address these challenges in various ways. We are dedicated to bringing world-class dental equipment to India at affordable prices. We provide comprehensive training to help practitioners effectively use this equipment, and we are continually innovating to meet the evolving needs of the dental industry.
Being the secretary of the Association of Dental Industry and Trade of India, please tell us what is lacking in the dental care industry that needs immediate attention?
As the Secretary of the Association of Dental Industry and Trade of India, I’ve had the privilege of acquiring a comprehensive understanding of our industry. In my view, there are three primary areas that require immediate attention:
Public Awareness of Oral Health: Despite substantial efforts, awareness about the importance of oral health remains relatively low in many parts of India. We need to conduct comprehensive campaigns to educate the public about the importance of regular dental check-ups and good oral hygiene practices. This should be a joint effort involving Government Departments, the Indian Dental Association, and ADITI.
Infrastructure Development: A number of regions in India, particularly rural and underprivileged areas, still lack sufficient dental care infrastructure. Establishing dental clinics and care centers in these areas is a critical first step towards improving oral health nationwide.
Technology Adoption and Education: The global dental industry is continuously evolving with new technologies and procedures being developed regularly. Indian dentists need better access to these advancements, as well as necessary training to use them effectively. We need to encourage and support the wider adoption of digital dentistry, from digital imaging to CAD/CAM and 3D printing.
By focusing our attention on these areas, I believe we can make significant strides in improving dental care across India.