Born in southern Italy in Reggio Calabria, Dr. Simona Chirico received a degree in dentistry and dental prosthetics from the University of Milan. She subsequently obtained a master’s degree in restorative and aesthetic dentistry at the University of Bologna. Chirico works in private practice in Milan and Desio and her principal areas of expertise are digital dentistry, endodontics and restorative dentistry. She won the SIE Anatomy Challenge award in 2021 and the Giancarlo Pascarmona AIC Award for best clinical case for a junior fellow in 2022. Chirico currently serves as a scientific coordinator for Dentistry33. She writes content and works with authors in Italy to share fresh perspectives in the journal.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your background, and how you decided to become a dentist.
Chirico: I was born in Calabria, a small city in the southern part of Italy. When I went to the dentist as a child I thought to myself: I love this place, I love the dentist. I continued to follow this idea or dream as I grew up. I studied and worked very hard to become a dentist and now, I am a dentist. I’m happy and glad that I realized my dream. If you work hard and believe in your dream, you can realize it.
I was eight years old when I first remembered visiting the dentist. She was very kind, and she was a great woman. She was an inspiration for me, her smile, her kindness, how she explained everything to me, even though I was a child. The consideration that she gave me, this was a special thing. I told my mother: "I want to be like her."
Q: What is your specialty, and what do you enjoy most about your work as a dentist?
Chirico: My specialties are restorative and digital dentistry and endodontics using the CEREC Primescan.
When I meet with a patient and propose a plan, I try to perform the procedure in a few appointments. In fact, I do the endodontic therapy first, and then the restorative part in a second appointment.
What I love most is to watch the reaction of my patients when we complete treatment. Most of them, at the beginning, are scared of the dentist and nobody wants to feel pain. But when we finish the first appointment, they are very happy with this experience, for my comprehension of their issues and how I helped them. In fact, when they come back to the next appointment, they smile and are relaxed.
That’s the best part, how your patients trust you, and how their mindset is happy.
Q: What procedures do you typically perform on any given day?
Chirico: Most of my patients have caries lesions or want to improve their smile. So, my daily work routine consists of treating them in a single or, at most, two appointments, and this is simple to do. When the caries involves the pulp, first I do the endodontic treatment, and then I prepare the tooth, take a digital impression and then mill the restoration to do the luting procedures in a single appointment. This procedure gives me the opportunity to restore the aesthetic and function for my patient’s teeth. And another advantage is to guarantee a normal cost for a high quality job in a single visit.
For the aesthetic rehabilitation, generally the work consists of more appointments because first of all I have to study the case using pictures, impressions, wax up and a mockup. Then there’s the session of work on a patient and another appointment to check that everything is okay.
During my daily routine it’s so important to take a lot of photos to document clinical cases and to show my patients what is happening. Patients don’t always understand when we talk in medical terms. The most powerful way to communicate with them is through pictures. They understand what I will do, why I propose a therapy instead of another one, and the costs of that procedure.
It’s important to focus not only on our skills and work, but also on the right communication with our patients.
Q: You’re also involved in research at the university, and you served as an editor for Edra U.S. when the company launched a few years ago. You’re currently a scientific coordinator for Dentistry33. How do you manage your time?
Chirico: I am a teacher but also a student, which is an important aspect to maintain. I conduct research not only because it’s a passion but also to be updated on new materials and innovative technology in dentistry. It’s because of this that I try to dedicate an entire day to conduct research and work on Dentistry33 content.
Q: What are the hot topics in dentistry for 2023?
Chirico: Adhesion and CAD/CAM materials are two important topics to discuss not only this year, but also in the future.
I try to focus my research on a particular topic: endocrown. Working with my mentor, Professor Massimo Gagliani over the last few years, we conducted a lot of research and experiments on this type of indirect restoration. It gives us the opportunity to be more conservative with the residual tooth structure and the rehabilitation of endodontically treated teeth.
Because we want to raise awareness about the use of this indirect restoration, Prof. Gagliani, Dr. Roberto Spreafico and I are publishing a book on endocrowns with Edra Italy. It will be published later this year in 2023. I hope that we can talk more about this topic in the future. We started this book during the pandemic days in 2020. We took a pause, and recently finished all of it.
Q: What advice do you have for younger people who might be considering a career in dentistry?
Chirico: This is a question I really appreciate. The most important things are to be passionate, curious and patient with yourself and your patients.
First, we are people. We must focus on the human part of our work and try to be empathic with patients.
You must always keep updated about your work as a dentist. There are always new materials and new technology being created.
Find a great professor and mentor that believes in you and gives you the opportunity to learn and work with them, like my mentor did with me. This also gave me the opportunity to follow other doctors from the Italian Academy of Restorative Dentistry (AIC).
And last, but not least, take a lot of pictures, not only to communicate in the right way with the patients and the team, but also to improve your skills.
These are the keys to becoming a great dentist.
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