Bulletin of Dental Education

Partners With a Shared Commitment to Dental Education and Patient Care

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It was an unseasonably cold night on March 9, 2005, including a light dusting of snow on the University of British Columbia Point Grey campus. Through large picture windows facing Wesbrook Mall, ceremonial shot glasses filled with Finnish vodka were raised and a toast was led by Heikki Kyöstilä, Founder, Owner and President of Planmeca, to celebrate the opening of the new Nobel Biocare Oral Health Centre (OHC) and a new partnership between University of British Columbia Faculty of Dentistry (UBC Dentistry) and Planmeca.

Founded by Mr. Kyöstilä in 1971, Planmeca started in Helsinki, Finland, as a small-scale business manufacturing dental stools and instrument cabinets, but it quickly adopted a global sales approach and expanded its product range to patient chairs, dental units, and now also 2D and 3D imaging devices, CAD/CAM products and software solutions. As the largest privately owned dental equipment manufacturer in the world, Planmeca began its affiliation with UBC Dentistry in the early 2000s with discussions about co-designing the most technologically advanced electronically integrated dental operatory of its time.

Occupying 39,000 square feet, the OHC houses 144 of the Planmeca UBC Compact i Dental Care Chair Units that provide a unique, integrated educational environment including patient positioning by computer to optimize the student operator’s view of the intraoral working field, enhanced ergonomics and a technologically advanced clinical environment for optimization of dental education and patient care. 

Now, 16 years later, Planmeca continues their legacy as a long-term partner with support of two monumental strategic projects that will augment UBC Dentistry’s position as a leader in dental education.

Last year, UBC Dentistry announced plans for a new Simulation and Digital Dentistry Laboratory that will transform our D.M.D. and DHDP student learning environment, providing exposure to state-of-the-art emerging technologies to learn advancing dental clinical procedures.

This June, UBC Infrastructure Development awarded the equipment contract for the Simulation and Digital Dentistry Laboratory to Planmeca through an open competitive process. Through their vision for innovation and technologically advanced design, Planmeca worked diligently to maximize the unique space allotted within the John B. Macdonald Building for the project, ensuring solution-based efficiency that will serve our students in their education. In addition, as part of Planmeca’s strong commitment to the success of this new initiative, the company gifted over $2.8 million in equipment and a special educational purchase discount.

In addition to the new Simulation and Digital Dentistry Laboratory project, UBC Dentistry was also planning for a pending need to update the OHC over the next two to three years. Working with the Planmeca team, UBC Dentistry implemented a detailed plan that includes new operating lights, upholstery, instrument review, medical-grade monitors and computer software (Romexis). This upgrade will augment the usable lifespan of the dental chairs by an additional 10 to 12 years for our students. However, the cost to upgrade all 144 chair units in the OHC is significant, estimated at a retail value of $9 million, and not within the scope of UBC Dentistry’s operational budget.

“The OHC clinic chair upgrade project will be like having a brand new clinic again! This process allows us to have new and updated features with our chairs, addressing the challenge to replace discontinued parts while also incorporating cutting-edge technology. This will have such a wonderful effect on patient care and student experience at OHC,” says Andrea Esteves, D.D.S., M.Sc., OHC Clinic Director and Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs.

Once again, through a shared passion of exceptional dental education and patient care, Planmeca provided an extraordinary opportunity for UBC Dentistry to achieve a full clinic chair upgrade of all 144 dental units with an additional gift of over $3 million in equipment and special educational pricing.

“UBC Dentistry is extremely proud of our long-term partnership with Planmeca,” says Dean and Professor Mary MacDougall, Ph.D. “Mr. Heikki Kyöstilä, as President of Planmeca, is once again making incredible gifts that will be instrumental in empowering UBC Dentistry to continue our strategic vision as trailblazers in dental education. Their combined gift in excess of $6 million is the largest single donation in the history of UBC Dentistry, topping the previous gift by more than $1 million. The simulation units for our new Simulation and Digital Dentistry Laboratory, and the clinical chair upgrade in the OHC will provide cutting-edge technologies and facilities to enhance our student learning and facilitate patient care.”

Thinking back to that special evening marking the opening of the OHC and the clinking of glasses as Mr. Heikki Kyöstilä joyously voiced “kippis,” it seems only fitting for this Finnish version of the toast “cheers” to be celebrated once again. Thank you, Planmeca, for your vision, your partnership, your generosity and your ongoing passion.

Courtesy of Kathryn Booth, Communications Coordinator, University of British Columbia Faculty of Dentistry

Published on Jan. 12, 2022

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