Speaker Spotlight: Dr. Clarence Tam
I went to the University of Western Ontario for both my undergraduate degree in Honors Microbiology and Immunology (thesis: Site-Directed Mutagenesis of recombinant bone sialoprotein in enamel formation) as well as my Doctor of Dental Surgery. I completed a General Practice Residency with the University of Toronto and Hospital for Sick Children following graduation. I attained Accredited status with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry in 2017 and have been working through the Kois Center curriculum. My area of interest is orofacially-driven smile rehabilitations with interdisciplinary elements, laser-assisted therapeutics as well as naturomimetic direct and indirect restorative procedures that are minimally invasive.
What made you interested in teaching and becoming a lecturer in your given area of interest?
CT: I started by trialing and reviewing certain dental products with the goal of seeing how they could improve both my esthetic and patient function outcomes. This drove me to study and focus on techniques that optimized bonding microtensile shear bond strengths in conjunction with material features in a goal to try to reproduce the respective layers of missing tooth substrates with minimal failures. I believe my strength is that I am able to explain and demonstrate something seemingly complex to any person in a simple, efficient, easy-to-relate-to and accessible manner all whilst getting their passion levels pumped up. I believe that even if you weren’t interested that I could make you not only become interested in the topic but also plant the seed of desire to master it. I’m an optimist, obviously.
From a lecturer’s perspective, what can CPD junkies do to get more out of CPD events they attend?
CT: To get the most from CPD events, I feel that one needs to ask questions, and that will come if you engage with the material. I really like how the JCD (Journal of Cosmetic Dentistry) issues are organized, all by theme or topic. For example, orofacially-driven smile design can encompass multiple areas of white and pink modification and the techniques to achieve them, often with novel combinations. After you have finished one lecture or topic, actively search out more on the same topic and really delve into it to gain maximal benefit. Don’t chop and change until you truly exhaust your interest. For example, if one is speaking about soft tissue augmentation and customized emergence profiles on immediate placement implant provisional crowns, some will focus on a pure digital workflow and what is achievable. It is similarly important to search out resources on the analog workflow to understand what combination of techniques is possible if something didn’t work out with one or the other. A blended technique often works well, but it is up to us to know as the bartender “what to blend” to create the drink.
What advice do you have for anyone hoping to become a speaker/lecturer?
CT: I would say that stage fright is often only an early deterrent. It is true that the more you do, the better you get at it. It is important not to look to others, or to have preconceived ideas as your ideals. Instead, desire to express your full personality in conveying your message. If you’re into avocados, have a lot of avocados on the slides, and use avocado flesh (sorry, flesh is a gross word) as an analogy for how for example very soft caries might feel (sorry, now I’ve tainted your image of avocados). The bottom line is to find an area of interest and really delve into it. Everybody has experience that is valuable, experience that they can share. Being a lecturer stems from how you wish to help others in raising the bar of possibility and outcomes in clinical practice. Try to generate emotion in the crowd.