The Art of Creating Smiles – Dr. Cris Piessens Interview
This is the full interview Dr Cris Piessens offered to the newspaper SOL.
With over three decades of dedication to dental medicine, Dr Cris Piessens is fully committed to implantology. All his knowledge and expertise, with “more time to plan, explain, follow up and work without pressure”, is what he has to offer to all his patients in his new project — Algarve Dental Implants.
Perspetiva Atual (PA): With 34 years of activity, what do you love the most about the practice of Dental Medicine?
Dr Cris Piessens (CP): Every new patient is a new challenge. All this experience allows me to work with total serenity, even in very complicated cases. It is a great pleasure to see the result of these cases, to see that the patients have no complications, or post-surgical complications, due to the accumulated technique and experience over the last 30 years. The tranquillity and being in control conveys peace and security to the patient.
PA: The evolution of Dental Medicine’s practice led to a holistic approach to the patient. How does this reality reflect on the treatment provided by Algarve Dental Implants?
CP: We always look at the patient in full. We speak, and we listen to understand the individual needs. It is in my nature to respect and look at the patient using a broad perspective. The aim is to understand if other aspects (physical or mental) can affect the diagnosis or the treatment.
PA: With a career path recognised by his peers, Dr Cris Piessens stands out for being an active voice in the development of implantology in the European context. What innovations have arisen at the level of techniques and materials used?
CP: Maybe the implants or the materials used have not suffered a spectacular development, but our knowledge of biology involved in the implantology area has made great strides. The concepts of platform switch, immediate charge, biomaterial, and the importance of soft tissues around the implant are part of those details that, with our current knowledge, help obtain better predictability of the positive result in the long term.
PA: What are the most innovative techniques you make available to your patients?
CP: I have always invested in planning. An accurate diagnosis, in combination with a well-established treatment plan, is essential for us to avoid any surprises. We have a Planmeca CBCT (made in Finland) at the clinic. It enables us to see high-quality 3D images and plan implant surgery in the computer, virtually placing the implants. It is an essential investment for a clinic. It is a modern and essential instrument nowadays at any clinic that acts in implantology. I also took a course in Helsinki on “interpretation and manipulation of 3D images in the maxillofacial region”. If the investment in a high technology device is not followed by specific training, it’s like having a Ferrari without any pilot training.
PA: Throughout his career, he treated thousands of patients; by 2001, he had applied 1,000 dental implants. Can implantology change the life of patients?
CP: When I finished my degree in dental medicine in 1986 in Brussels, I never imagined that implantology would be part of my daily life. I never imagined that I would be helping make true what has been humanity’s dream for 2 thousand years — replacing lost teeth successfully and the pre-visibility we have now. It has changed my life, and yes (!), it changes my patients’ lives. The difference between a removable dental prosthesis, which is often not very stable in the mouth, removes self-confidence and self-esteem, and a fixed dental arch over implants integrated into the bone is so huge that I often get to see tears of joy and happiness.
“An accurate diagnosis, combined with a well-established treatment plan, is a necessity for us to avoid surprises”.
PA: Do you feel that the Portuguese are more worried about their dental health and the benefits a regular visit to the dentist has on their lives and health in general?
CP: Clearly, yes. In English, we say “dental-minded”. This means that the Portuguese know the benefits of healthy teeth and a healthy smile. And this means that dentists are permanently challenged to provide quality services. It is a balance between giving and receiving which means that more Portuguese now trust their dentist. They know that dental health is directly linked to health in general
PA: How do you see the future of oral surgery and implantology in Portugal?
CP: Dental medicine in Portugal suffered a great transformation. We went from a country where dental medicine was low quality and difficult to access by patients, in the 1990s, to a reference worldwide. Training, the quality and number of dentists qualified to apply implants in Portugal, is above average, compared to the rest of the world. The danger exists and we are seeing that “large groups” of investors are turning our especiality into a business (a tough one) and, through the war on prices and offers, they forgo the quality of service and treatment, and I don’t even like imagining what that means.
PA: What characteristics distinguish your clinical practice and enable you to obtain the loyalty of a large community of national and foreign clients?
CP: Being humble, humane and providing high-quality treatment for a fair price. Transparency and honesty, combined with more than 30 years of experience and expertise, give Dr Cris Piessens’s name an excellent reputation
PA: Besides the clinical practice, Dr Cris Piessens’ career is marked by research and training other professionals. What topics are covered in this training, and how does it happen?
CP: In 2021, we talk about the pre-and-post-COVID19 reality. I used to organize courses in small groups, emphasizing clinical practice. The topic “Immediate charge with fixed prosthesis on 4 implants” was the most popular. I also organize specific training on the prosthetic part of this protocol. With the impossibility of having presential courses, I organize webinars, like: “Zero Bone Loss – The New Golden Standard”.
“The difference between a removable dental prosthesis, often not very stable in the mouth, which removes self-confidence and self-esteem, and a fixed dental arch over implants integrated into the bone is so huge that I often see tears of joy and happiness.”
PA: How have you adapted your activity to the present context with the pandemic to assure your patients’ maximum safety?
CP: We had to adapt to this new reality. With this, I wish to say that I see fewer patients with more considerable intervals, which enables me to ventilate and sanitize the rooms even more carefully than before. We wear personal protective equipment, and the masks are adapted to the new regulations. The patient cannot bring company, which is not always great, because I like to explain and discuss the treatments with the patient’s partner. Due to my exclusive activity in implantology, I almost do not use the turbine. Therefore, I avoid aerosol with bacteria and potential viruses “floating” in the air inside the clinic.
PA: Since there is a constant concern about offering a service of excellence, are there any projects you would like to tell us about?
CP: Yes! I sold my old clinic in Albufeira last year, and now, I work exclusively in implantology, three days a week, in a center located at the entrance of the “old” center of Albufeira. So, the new motto is: “Less is more”. Fewer days at the clinic enable me to dedicate more to each case. More time to plan, explain, follow and work without pressure. This is an excellent benefit for me, and obviously, for the patient.
(Left to right) Dr Cris Piessens, Mónica Martins, Vânia Santos and Filomena Cruz
PA: Where can we find Dr Cris Piessens?
CP: I’m sorry that the previous clinic continues to refer to my person, experience, and expertise. This deliberately provokes some confusion to the patients who feel misled when they try to look for my service and are not duly informed that, since last year, I no longer work at that firm.