29 April 2024

ADAVB Convention & Exhibition 2024

Meet our 2024 Convention and Exhibition keynote speaker, Dr Clarence Tam and uncover the person behind the dentist.

Why did you choose this career to be a dentist/specialist?

I had either wanted to be in finance/investment banking or dentistry. Dentistry for me always represented the perfect fusion of science, art and business. This is exactly what I told the interview committee before my acceptance.

What was the best career advice you have received and what advice would you give to those who are at the start of their career?

Worry about doing good work, not about making money, and the money will take care of itself. I would like to further that one more: if you take care of your staff and grow a culture of interstaff reliance and trust, your business will take care of itself. In business, some might say that the patient is always #1. I would argue that your team and the cohesiveness of them is #1. 

What are some of the challenges you face in your career?

Staffing shortages and illnesses. The desire to complete continuing education abroad, but simultaneously the opportunity cost of running a business with 11 staff currently.

What is the most rewarding part of your job, and does your work become more interesting with experience? 

The most rewarding aspect is the ability to change someone’s confidence. I think that never grows old. Confidence building both with the patient base and with the team is a huge passion of mine.

Why should delegates attend your sessions?

I am not there to show off my cases. Many times, I will discuss and show mistakes, and what could have been done differently to achieve a higher outcome. My workshops are hard hitting and information intense – bound to change your clinical confidence through steps that are grounded in science but executed with precision and passion.

How do you see dentistry changing in the next 10 years?

Unfortunately, the laboratory technician-hand-built aesthetic and microlayering may be able to be taken over by AI that will be able to read ideal incisal window details and will be able to incorporate this into a machine workflow. I see education being more and more virtual, with the advent of Apple Vision Pro in conjunction with haptics. This will allow global dissemination of techniques and raise the standard of care everywhere.

What is the most difficult case/project that you have ever had?

The gentleman started telling me that he had worn his teeth down (he had literal nubs). Then he told me that once he was hungry so he grabbed a frozen sausage from the freezer and bit on it so hard it fractured the base of his glenoid fossa, impacting his condyle beyond. Needless to say it was hard to deprogram him.

What accomplishment in your career/work/research are you most proud of?

I am currently Accredited with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and I am working hard towards Fellowship – the highest level of achievement in the realm of aesthetic dentistry. I am also proud to have published a textbook chapter with Prof. David Manton on the Aesthetic Management of Incisor Hypomineralization and helping to determine the ideal protocol for a staged approach to excellence.

What do you enjoy when you are not working?

I enjoy my French Bulldog, Arnie’s company and also love to DJ, ride motorcycles and occasionally rum race with an all-female sailing group at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. I also really enjoy eating... a lot.