Dr. Chi, Glidewell CAD/CAM digital dentistry

How I Got Started in Dentistry

By Dr. Justin Chi

How I Got Started in Dentistry

As an undergrad student, I was unsure of which career path to follow. I switched majors a few times before discovering that my college, LSU, offered a dental laboratory technology degree. At the time, my sister had just completed her first year of dental school, so I was immediately drawn to the idea of being a technician in the hopes of collaborating with her.

I enjoy creating things and working with my hands, so it didn’t take much to convince me. From my standpoint, the intensive three-year program opened the doors to the expansive world of dental technology.

What Working for a CAD/CAM Company Taught Me

After graduation, I moved to Dallas and started my own lab out of my garage. During this time, I couldn’t ignore CAD/CAM technology. I was initially intimidated by the idea that a machine could replace a dental technician like myself, but I was also intrigued by the efficiency that this technology had brought to the crown fabrication process.

My curiosity led me to join E4D, formerly known as D4D, in 2007, which was one of the companies leading the charge to push CAD/CAM into more dental offices.

I worked at E4D as a trainer, introducing dentists and their staff to intraoral scanning, digital designing of restorations, and chairside milling. It was fascinating to witness practitioners immediately become critical of their own preps, which until then had been the technicians’ problem. Having to design their own crowns made dentists acutely aware of the importance of proper tooth preparation and tissue management.

Dr. Chi Glidewell CAD/CAM technology

Also, from the patients’ point of view, this was a huge leap forward in terms of the convenience of receiving crowns in a single visit.

Seeing the impact that incorporating this technology had on dentists, and especially their patients, I decided to take the next step and enroll in dental school at the University of Southern California in 2011.

I feel like this was full-circle, blending my skills as a dental technician with the clinical side of dentistry and patient care.

Getting Started at Glidewell

After I graduated, one of my mentors, Dr. Dave Wilhelm, introduced me to Jim Glidewell, owner and CEO of Glidewell Dental. Jim kindly invited us to tour the facilities.

I was blown away by how the company implemented technology to provide their customers with consistently good work. Jim offered me a position as a Clinical Research Associate, which I was thrilled to accept.

At Glidewell, I work as a clinician and am incredibly fortunate to be able to test the latest developments in dental materials and technology. As part of my work, I collaborate with other clinicians, technicians, scientists, and engineers on a daily basis which brings many perspectives to the fore.
Digital dentistry CAD/CAM

Being immersed in this unique environment, I’ve been able to share what I’ve learned with dental professionals from around the world through avenues I never imagined I would be a part of, such as Chairside magazine and our YouTube channel “Chairside Live!”

My Favorite Part About Working at Glidewell

The greatest aspect of working at Glidewell is the synergy of many talented people that share the goal of advancing dentistry through innovation. It’s rewarding to be involved with cutting-edge developments in technologies and techniques that ultimately make our profession and the quality of life for our patients better.

Glidewell’s success has been defined by science-based change. There have been many ideas and challenges that conflicted with existing understanding in the field, but persistence and innovation have paved the way forward with new materials and workflows.

Practicing dentistry at Glidewell lets me keep pushing the envelope. Furthermore, I’m able to share what we’re developing with the rest of the dental community, which is extremely fulfilling as a practicing clinician.

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