Christian Coachman - Jun 7, 2019

Christian Coachman in conversation with Dr Maurice Salama

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What follows is an interview with my dear dear friend Maurice Salama, representing the whole Team Atlanta, was able to open one hour of his busy, busy schedule to speak with me. We are celebrating 50 years of innovation and education with Team Atlanta. 50 years since Doctor Ronald Goldstein first published his first piece of knowledge, shared with the world, and we will go through some of this history.

Team Atlanta was an incubator for great ideas. We pushed each other to create great ideas. We didn't accept that we didn't have a solution for something. If there wasn't a good enough solution, then we pushed each other collectively. That was the beauty of the team.

This interview was originally taken from Coffee Break With Coachman, a series of interviews with the best dental brains and the best personalities, in short, the most influential people in our dental industry today. From business to marketing to clinical to research, academics, laboratory technology and digital, each of the interviews is a conversation with a thought leader in their field, sharing their knowledge and experiences.  



CHRISTIAN: It was an experience for me, I have to tell you, going back in time with you and getting the information from you, researching, and organizing the timeline of Team Atlanta. I love history. It's amazing to see how much has happened, that sometimes we don't appreciate when we are with real pioneers. I was there, you were there with Ron and David. I was there for five years with them. It's unbelievable by going back in time and organizing everything Goldstein did, all the ideas he put together, all the people he joined. All the initiatives he had.

Before we go into this history, Maurice, I want you to speak a little bit about this new project. We're going to start from 2018, before we go 1968. The Orthodontic Online Fellowship. Explain it to me a little bit better, what is this?


MAURICE: It's a very exciting thing because obviously the whole world is starting to get more involved in orthodontics and aesthetics, and obviously through the digital world - Digital Smile Design, and things like that. We've had an opportunity with Align, and with you and your team, to organize an online orthodontic and Align fellowship program, which will integrate some of the advanced projects that they have. Because they've really advanced their projects and their technology to a degree where now it's being utilized across all fathoms of orthodontics from preteen to actually early treatment orthodontics, all the way to pre-prosthetic and adult orthodontics. You'll be able to go online, hopefully we're launching next month. Keep an eye out for the Dental XP Align program. Christian will be the inaugural lecturer, which we are very excited about. Of course, the opportunity to gain your ability to go through this program, to see some of the knowledge from some of the top Invisalign users around the world who are going to share their content with us and to get your accreditation.


CHRISTIAN: I was looking at the program. It's actually a very in-depth program. It's 10 sessions. It's really almost like a specialization program online. Then you have the combination with, after you do the online, you go in person to do the Invisalign training as well. It's a very comprehensive program.


MAURICE: One of the nice things is that, what has digital has allowed us to do, is give people the opportunity to take the didactic portion at their pace, and be able to slow down, stop, go back to certain segments that they want and revisit it. So you do not have to worry about the didactic section when you go and do your practical session. I think it's been very, very successful.


CHRISTIAN: I was going to ask, the existing ones, what are the existing programs you guys have already?


MAURICE: Right now, we have the online fellowship program in collaboration with NYU, which is 168 hours of CE. It's in nine sessions with almost 100 modules. Each session and module has an examination that you must pass. Everything is online. What's nice is that because you have to pass each test, with an 80, it's not 70 or 65. You have to have an 80 or better on each exam to go to the next level. You have to pass the entire thing. You can not fail one part of this exam. You have probably about 90 or 100 small examinations you have to pass. At the end of the fellowship, you attain a certificate. Now what's been great is that we launched this thing maybe almost three years ago, and we have over 680 graduates of the program. It's been very successful and it's been received very well by our global friends all around the world.


CHRISTIAN: The Ortho Fellowship is the second program that Dental XP is launching?


MAURICE: This will be the second one, and then down the road we're looking at an endodontic fellowship program as well as an aesthetics program as well. Those two should be launched sometime later this year, or early next year.


CHRISTIAN: And the implant fellowship, after you go through that whole online training and you do the tests, you also have some extra options of in-person, real hands-on?


MAURICE: Like you mentioned, with even the Align fellowship program, the Ortho program, the didactic is really important, but we always want people to take the hands-on training. Dental XP offers six hands-on modules that we suggest you take to receive your mastership status, we call them mastership programs. You can take them either in Atlanta or anywhere around the world. We have accredited centers in the Middle East, the Far East, in Europe, in South Africa with Howie Gluckman, and we also offer an expertship status, a program where we do in Brazil. You know in Sao Paulo, at the Metropolitan University which will be our seven year return. Really, that's been my favorite course of all. We go with, every year sold out as a matter of fact. They built a brand new facility last year. We were the inaugural program in the new facility. That program is really, I think, the epitome or the cherry on top.


CHRISTIAN: That's when you do the real patients?


MAURICE: Real, live patients in Brazil with all the equipment, all the instruments, and all the state of the art bioengineering and biologics available, and you're being tutored by some of the very best people in the world. We've had Henry, my brother was there, Howie Gluckman, Marcelo Ferar, Manuel De la Rosa. Last year, we had Robert Silvo from the very famous impact perio group in Sao Paulo. This year, they're returning with the entire group. It's been an amazing course to give, and I've learned a lot doing it.


CHRISTIAN: I think it's a very democratic way of sharing knowledge. It's not everybody that can, people from all over the world, like us in Brazil, it’s very tough for us to go to the US and to move to the US for one year or two years, to do a specialization program with the best there. Even if we go to the US, it's usually hard for you to do a lot of real surgery on real patients. You're suddenly put the best of all worlds.

You do everything that is possible in terms of content is online, you can do from anywhere in the world. Then, you do hands-ons with the best in the world. Then you come as the third part and do live patients, supervised. There's no better way to learn implants.


MAURICE: If you ask me, the things that I have seen, I wish they were available when I was a student. I know you know that we are a family, you and I, but you know Eddie's daughter, the CEO of Dental XP is in her third year at NYU Perio, and she came to the Brazil course last year and she's going to come again this year, because she said to me in four days in Brazil, she did things that she had never seen even in two years at the program at NYU. I think it's a very unique training, as you said, didactic first, and then the hands-on workshop on specimens in a very protected environment. Then really, the ultimate course being the live course in Brazil where you can treat live patients under the tutelage of some of the very, very best. I mean, really, truly the very best surgeons in the world. I'm really proud of our ability to work, it always seems that we always come back to Brazil.


CHRISTIAN: It's good to know that. Somehow Brazil, it's generating these situations for people to come here and share their knowledge. I love it.


MAURICE: I think Brazil has done the same about sharing the knowledge. They have incredible, talented dentists. You have a lot to do with it. You and your family, and your father. I compliment you.

You've been a big pioneer for the dentistry in Brazil. You've brought them to the forefront. I have been very impressed with the level of dentistry in Brazil since the very first time that I came, and you were a student hosting me with your dad. It's been a long time, 23 years now.


CHRISTIAN: That's an interesting story. We should explore that a little bit. The connections, you know? The way the story brought us together. I want you to start explaining a little bit, I know everybody knows Maurice Salama, but always good to introduce a little bit about your background, your scientific background, you know as a professional, a little bit of your story.


MAURICE: My training was in biology. I was a major in biology in my undergraduate studies. I was interested in medicine and dentistry. Because my older brother, Henry is a periodontist and prosthodontist trained at Penn, and I obviously was exposed through him. I decided to go after a training in dentistry. I went to the University of Pennsylvania, where I got my dental degree. Then I went and did a year of hospital training in New York City. That was very interesting. It allowed me to have experience with surgery and emergency room training. I decided that I wanted to go back and have further training in surgery. But I got an opportunity to do my orthodontic training. I was one of the, maybe now there's 20, graduates of the Perio-Ortho program at the University of Pennsylvania. A very premier program, the only one of its kind.


CHRISTIAN: It's not that you did Perio and then Ortho. You did a Perio-Ortho program that was combined with these two specialties. I think that's a very unique combination.


MAURICE: Yes, it's the only accredited Ortho-Perio program in the world, to my understanding. I don't know if there is somewhere else in the world, but certainly when I graduated there was no other one in the world. It was a very unique program. There was only one student accepted every three years. It's very intense, but it was wonderful. I had great mentors, and I had a chance to really understand and learn part of what we did together at Team Atlanta was sharing of multiple disciplines, being able to provide all aspects of dental care. Having both degrees as well as the training from the implant center at the University of Pennsylvania, we had the Implant Center there. I stayed and trained with my brother who was one of the directors of the program. I had a lot of multi-specialty training. I think that was the reason that Ron and David in 1992 were nice enough to invite me to come to Atlanta and change my life.


CHRISTIAN: We will get there definitely on the acception. Why did Goldstein and Garber pick you, and what was the feeling at that moment to be picked by Goldstein-Garber? Because at that time there were already, well they did a lot before you came in already, so they were very big at that time It was probably a huge moment for you to be selected by them. I had a similar experience when they picked me, when you guys, you were part of that decision.

The thing is, I can see the combination of factors. You have a brother that was a prosthodontist, but also did perio, right?

Then you came into dentistry. You had experience at the hospital with implants and perio-orthodontics. I definitely see why, I remember in the 90s, the main reason why we in Brazil, and I remember my father and my father’s colleagues talking about the Salama brothers, and Goldstein-Garber and Salama, talking about this perio-ortho combination. You were definitely one of the pioneers on that, moving teeth towards the implant, thinking about the implant as the final goal, or improving the site because if you're going to place implant, you do it with ortho. Today, it's natural for the younger generation to think about this combination, but in the 90s. About improving sites with ortho to think about the implants, this was amazing. We're going to go through these articles, right?


MAURICE: Absolutely. Listen, there was a lot of things that we take for granted today. Christian, you're saying things that are really great. Team Atlanta, take for granted what wasn't routine 20, 30, 40 years ago. Really in the early 90s, what you said is completely true. My first time in Brazil, I remember there was a whole team of dentists that you introduced me to that were very, very intrigued and excited about this whole concept of orthodontic manipulation of bone and soft tissue, and preparing sites, and how to use implants as anchor units.

Today we take it for granted. People say, "Yeah, yeah, I'm going to do orthodontic extrusion." Or, "I'm going to use an implant to move teeth." Back then, it was unheard of. The people looked at us and they said, "I don't understand. That's not practical. Who would do that?"

Today, you know, because of people pushing the envelope and I believe that in many ways that everybody who has been part of our team has helped do that, certainly you've done it as well.


CHRISTIAN: I usually say that when you are developing a concept and somebody looks and you and says, "Why would I do that?" That's a very strong sign that you're on the right path.

That happens a lot for people having new ideas, and it's very disruptive. The Atlanta team were disrupting one year after the other. It's very interesting to see things that today we don't realize, I was looking at the story here and in 2008, I developed a little system of The 10 Steps of the Smile Frame. Then, researching here, this was 2008. 1988, Garber was talking about the 10 Steps of Smile Design. It makes you humble when you study, when you go back, and you look at the information, you see that it's mainly inspiration that you get from your mentors that allows you to maybe improve details here and there, but it's always a sequence of processes.


MAURICE: Christian, you said two things that I want to go back to for a moment. I think you're absolutely right. If somebody said to me, "Why was Dental XP even created?" Team Atlanta was an incubator for great ideas. We pushed each other to create great ideas. We didn't accept that we didn't have a solution for something. If there wasn't a good enough solution, then we pushed each other collectively. That was the beauty of the team. I know you're going to go over the timeline, but when we brought people in like Pincus Sadar, because Ron realized there's weakness in composite resins, and we needed somebody who could do really high quality porcelain and veneers. Then we realized that we needed somebody with Henry's training in reconstructive dentistry, because at that time that the office was weak in that particular arena. We constantly brought people in but then challenged them. When you came into the office, the same thing occurred.


Dr Maurice Salama Quote


You came in, you became part of our group, you realized how we work, but then we challenged one another. We challenged you, and then you, in return, challenged us. I believe when we looked back, the most enjoyment I had was to say, "My gosh, I remember those moments in the creative process when the juices were flowing." How many evenings with a glass of scotch, Christian? Late at night with the computer and the camera? It was motivational, it was inspirational, it was true team dentistry. When people say to me, "Doesn't it get aggravating working in a group? Don't you want to be your own boss? Say your own things? Make your own decisions?" I wouldn't change working in a group setting for anything because I believe that the disruptive concepts came out of that type of group setting where each one of us looked at each other, not as a competition, but as somebody who can elevate each other collectively.

Dr Maurice Salama Quote

CHRISTIAN: Definitely, definitely. The team environment takes us to a completely different level. You guys were pioneers. That's the reason why everybody knows Team Atlanta, you know? In the 60s when he started it, he probably had that little thing in his brain saying, "I need to create something different. I need to work as a team." Also, the exercise today of, and I try to do it all the time, researching back.

Every time you have a super cool idea and you think you're super cool, just look back in time. You're going to see that 99% of your idea, you were inspired by other people. You may not remember exactly the moment in your life that you were inspired, but you were definitely inspired by other people to have the idea. That's why I believe that great ideas don't belong to anybody, they belong to everybody, you know? Let me show quickly here, because we have so much on the timeline.

I want to go over here, so you can start and I really want to take advantage of this interview to make a tribute. It's a tribute for this team, for this entity. Let's show the groundbreaking landmarks of history here, okay? So we can evaluate and give value. I want everybody watching this interview, if they meet Dr. Goldstein next time in an important meeting, look at this guy and understand what happened. Just quickly here, we're going to go back, but I'm going to say quickly a summary of the history. 1968, he was a young dentist. He did his first publication. 1973, first time ever somebody puts the word aesthetics on the title of a dental publication. Pay attention, everybody talks about aesthetics today. Everybody takes ownership of this word today. He put this word here. I can understand how much attacks he probably got at that time, putting aesthetics into the world of dentistry.

Then '73, '76 he's not even starting and he already published another pioneering book, first book ever directed to the consumer. I can tell you something, one of my passions is marketing. This can be the birth of marketing in dentistry I would say, 1976.

Change Your Smile With Goldstein. Now, we jump to '81. '81, the second player, David Garber, landmark article on site enhancement. Then, finally, Goldstein calls in Garber. It's '83. '84, Goldstein says, "It's not enough. I want one of the best ceramists around." He brings in Pincus Sadar. They continue, '85, the first ever book about bleaching. '86, first ever book about veneers. This was new for me. This was new. '89, Goldstein and Garber they give the first ever lecture on a computer.


MAURICE: It was a desktop. It was a desktop computer. It wasn't a laptop. It weighed 88 pounds.


CHRISTIAN: 1990, first lecture on 10 Steps to Smile Design. 1990. Okay? Now let's go here. They want to go beyond and they want to bring perio-ortho to the next level. They bring Maurice Salama, '92. '93, Maurice, landmark article on Ortho Extrusion, Henry and Maurice. '93, another landmark first article on immediate loading, '94, it's unbelievable, '94 first book ever mentioning in-lays only, '94, Goldstein-Garber. '94 as well so they are not happy with one book per year, they do two books per year. Look at this for the DSD followers. '94 book on digital imaging, digital imaging, digital simulations, smile simulation and all that stuff. Goldstein and Garber. '95 guided soft tissue, healing abutment supporting vertical tissue growth. I was doing that in 2010 and thinking I was amazing, okay? This was '95. '96, another groundbreaking article on ortho-perio. Then periodontology book 2000, a chapter on aesthetic smile design diagnosis and treatment. Then, '98, finally, Henry decides to officially join the team '98, another great article. This is a landmark, you're going to talk about this, Maurice. Let's continue quickly here. '99. '99, immediate tooth replacement by drilling through the teeth. 2001, another article on immediate placement. 2003, that's probably one of the most mentioned articles in the history of dentistry. The article on interproximal height of bone. Then you have in 2002, another great article here, by you Maurice and Henry. Then, I came on board in 2004, and look what happened to me. I was part of this.

Let's continue. 2005, we moved to the new office with a beautiful new logo, and we joined forces with an amazing Japanese team. There is a series of amazing articles with the Japanese 5D group. DSD started in 2008. I was in Team Atlanta at that time. The ideas were conceptualized while I was there.

2009, this guy comes on board, Eddie, and Dental XP becomes official. Now 2008, root submergence, tunnel technique. 2009 one abutment one time. 2009 pink hybrid restoration publication, three part article. Historical for me. Regeneration is almost done, not completely done. 2014, dual zone socket management, partial extraction therapies with Gluckman. Then we have the continuation of the articles with the Japanese guys. Surgical Veneer Grafting with the Agnini brothers. 2018, Goldstein editing his final edition that will be released this year of aesthetic in dentistry, and Team Atlanta is just starting all over with Team Atlanta 2.0.


MAURICE: Amazing. It was tiring just to hear you say it, but it happened. If you asked me what I'm most happy about that list that you described, I would tell you it's the relationships. The relationships with Pincus, with you, with Gee, when Gee Cabral came to our office to join our team, and he was part of the whole DSD, the digital revolution with you in the beginning. People that we allowed to work with us, whether it be Dennis and Steven Chu, and Team New York, and the Agnini brothers, and Tom and the group at 5D Japan, and of course working with Howie Gluckman and Jonathan.

Really, through Dental XP being able to get a lot of this material out to the world quickly, not having to depend only on periodicals, and we'd meet people like Marcelo Ferar, and Manuel De La Rosa, and so many, so many others that were inspired really by Eddie's commitment to getting a family atmosphere like we have in Team Atlanta and sharing that same feeling around the world.


CHRISTIAN: Fantastic. It's definitely the relationships is the best. That's the best gift that dentistry gave to me, the possibility to connect with the whole world and make so many friends. Definitely that's the key. Imagining that I was, for five years, a part of this process, all you guys, what you guys did together as a team. I want you to comment on some of my highlights. I want to start with two articles from David Garber. We already talked about the two books. These are historical. For me, the birth of aesthetic dentistry, and the birth of marketing in dentistry, Goldstein. Then we have Garber publishing in '81 about cosmetic crown cosmetics. It's not a periodontal, biological thing.


MAURICE: And by the way, Christian, he was ridiculed, a lot of people were very against that concept. Who would remove bone and tissue just for cosmetics? It was unheard of. He was ridiculed by people that were his teachers. Today we all do it like it's nothing. I'm going to do ortho eruption, but no one was doing this. David was the first.

CHRISTIAN: The other one, Pontic site development, 1981. Grafting, connected tissue graft.


MAURICE: You talked about how we all step on the shoulders of others to be as great as we become now. David always gives the credit to Lenny Abrams who was his teacher, who inspired him to take tissue. Now, today, again everybody says, "Oh, I know that. Everybody knows that." But he was the first.


CHRISTIAN: Bleaching and veneers. Now everybody does bleaching, everybody does veneers. Now we see two books in two years from Goldstein and Garber on these two topics. Right? '85 and '86. I hear many people saying, "I was doing that in the 80s." On the top, right? This is really, really amazing for me. Let's get into the next decade because then this guy comes on board here. I want you to talk a little bit about these landmarks. Ortho extrusion with the aesthetics in mind, and immediate loading.


MAURICE: It's great, and perfectly situated for us to talk about. Once again, Henry and I came up with orthodontic extrusion for implant site development and for regenerative purposes. Really, we took a lot of that information from the early work from Steven Brown back in the University of Pennsylvania in 1973 and 1976 that did it for periodontal reasons. Once again, taking the work of our predecessors and building upon that to make a tool that is so effective for something that it was never intended to do. Once again, being challenged and challenging ourselves to do it.

With immediate loading, we published the first article on immediate loading of dental implants in the maxilla in the world in 1995, and at the time people said it couldn't be done. We looked at the work in 1987 who did it in the mandible. They had put in extra implants assuming they'd fail. We decided to try it in the maxilla and realized it worked.

Now, today, as we all know, putting in four or three implants and doing an entire jaw full-arch Is becoming routine. Back in 1995, they actually held the article, the story goes, Ron Nevens said, "We can't publish this because all the referees said it can't be done." They held the article for three years before they eventually allowed it to be published. These are stories that only those involved would ever hear.


CHRISTIAN: For the ones that published an article or published a book, we know how hard it is to actually, it's not only being good at the procedure, but stopping your whole life to share your knowledge, you know? Stop making money because nobody makes money with publications neither book, but you stop your life, you put everything aside, and you decide that you're going to organize your thoughts. Without organizing your thoughts you can not tell a story. You can not organize in bullet points. You can not create a system that becomes an educational book. Actually for every author, I think we need to give so much credit for every person that stops their professional career to organize their thoughts and create educational material to help others to replicate what that person is doing.

Again, here I'm saying this because there is another book from Goldstein and Garber. In '94 they were already super famous with several books under their belt, lecturing all over. They decide to stop again to write again about another topic that at the time was growing. I remember. That was when I was entering dentistry. We were having our meetings here in Brazil and my father was inviting people to talk about in-lays on-lays. At that time, Goldstein and Garber already had, I remember that book on my father's table in '94, '95, and I remember reading that book to learn about in-lays, on-lays Goldstein Garber. That's why, for me, it was so emotional to be invited by you guys to work, because I was following the literature as I was growing as a student.


MAURICE: What you just said is true, and what you have done, and you know, because I'll tell a little story about you, but I'll wait for later. The wonderful part is what you said is that to appreciate the time that it takes to document, to organize your concepts, your ideas, to make sure that the material is up to snuff for your colleagues, to make sure that it lasts the test of time, because when you look back at something, Change your Smile, I have the original book. I look and I say, "My gosh, look at how well he organized this for the consumer." As you said, it was the first book that really showed how to promote dentistry to the consumer. It still holds up today, even though he's done three or four editions.


CHRISTIAN: Goldstein for me is part of a select group that I have as real mentors that I call them thought organizers. People that can, they don't need to invent all the ideas. They learn, they stop, and they organize better than the guy who invented the idea.


MAURICE: He's an amazing person, Christian, and what he did really well, which I always think is a talent, and people don't realize it, is to put the people together that he needs to reach his dreams. He realized he couldn't do the kind of dentistry just with composite resin. It took him 10 years to figure that out. He said, "Boy, I want to do more." Rather than sit there and go and learn everything himself, he said, "Who do I need to surround myself with?" Sometimes the best person in the room isn't the most bright or the most talented. It's the person who can motivate and create a group of people that are willing to work together to achieve the same goal. He has been, for our group, the inspiration. Look, at 86 years is still working two days a week, still inspired, and motivates us all.


CHRISTIAN: I was with him a few months ago on a big meeting, and I was lecturing about all the new trends. That becomes overwhelming, you know? People watch my lecture with all the new ideas, and he watched the whole lecture. He came to me after the ... How can I make this happen for me? How can I learn this and implement this? I need some help implementing these ideas. That's his behavior. That's why every time I meet him it's so emotional for me, because it's so much energy and so much passion together, right? He's so driven. The shortcut, as you said, is teamwork. Teamwork means if you see something very cool that you want to bring to your own patients, the first question for Goldstein is not "How can I learn and do it myself?" It's, "How can I bring somebody to my team to help me deliver this even better to my patients?" You know?


MAURICE: There's no doubt about it. If you really look at, what you mentioned, Team Atlanta 2.0, we brought in three young dentists in the last year trained at Jerry and those are the people for Ron and for David, you know, Marco, Todros who was trained, and some of the training actually also was a big DSD guy, and you helped train him on that. You're right, Ronald was one of those people who would go and get the select people who can introduce him to the new concepts so that he can bring it to his patients.


CHRISTIAN: That's very important. That's very important. We are talking about publications, science, the lecture world, but Goldstein always had in mind his main goal, the patient.


MAURICE: We are in the end successful or not successful by how the patient perceives all of the work that we put into the case. For him, he saw the clarity in that back in the early 70s. That hasn't wavered. He never got caught up in the fame, he never got caught up in the publications. That, therefore, inspired all of us around him to do the kinds of things that we've done together.


CHRISTIAN: I want to spend a few minutes talking about my experience with Henry. Everybody that likes lecturing, we all have egos, we enjoy the fact of being on stage. I know Goldstein has that, Garber has that, you have it, I have it, we have fun being on stage. Henry was always a natural low-profile guy, but if we see the publications, we see how many times he was one of the key authors, and how many times he was behind the ideas, and I remember how much I learned from Henry. He never really expected me to mention that or to promote him. It was just a natural thing on him to help me do better. I remember the first full mouth implant rehabilitation I did in my life, I did for him. One of the first cases I did. I thought I knew something about it. I did the abutments completely wrong.

I completely over-contoured. You know, 10 abutments, full mouth, a disaster. It took him around two hours to reshape the zirconia abutments to fit the bone. It didn't even go in because of the bone. It was so bulky, the submergence profile. I remember him giving me a lecture. It was my first perio lecture. Until today, I tell every technician, every great technician needs to be a periodontist. You need to understand the principles. For me, that journey started with Henry that day when he explained to me the basic principles of submergence profile, the bone, the soft tissue, the biological width, concavity.


MAURICE: That lecture took place after hours, in the laboratory, with his laptop, and with a glass of Scotch. Henry has and always will be the idea guy in the group. He's obviously taught me a tremendous amount. I wouldn't be where I am without all the things he's done for me. You're absolutely right. Humble. Never did it for the wrong reasons. If anything, he is the most understated of us all. He prefers that. People that really know, they know that this is the guy. For our team, when he came on board, that changed our team forever. We would not have really, truly been Team Atlanta, and the articles that came out since that moment were mostly, I'd say, inspired by his thoughts.


CHRISTIAN: Let's mention a couple that you and him strongly were the ones creating. Guided soft tissue, healing abutment to support vertical soft tissue growth, and the other one here, the aesthetic smile diagnosis and treatment. The other one here, landmark article, interproximal height of bone. Talk a little bit about those three.


MAURICE: Guided soft tissue augmentation was spurred on by what? By aesthetic failures with dental implants. We didn't have tissue, the tissue had receded, abutments were exposed, and we were very, very disappointed. It was either our cases or cases that were referred to us. We had to come up with an idea to solve these problems. We sat together and said, "Hey, you know, we'd been taught to put cover screws, the day of implant placement." Today everybody is doing one-stage and immediate, but back then we used to put a cover screw on an implant. They still come with cover screws I think.

We decided to use the healing abutments for vertical augmentation. Really, that, again started back in the early 90s because of the need we had to fix our own problems, as well as those of others. Then, of course I think, the article that I believe that we can feel most proud about that maybe we changed dentistry for the better in all facets, not just implants, but in conventional dentistry as well, it would be the IHB, the interproximal height of bone article in 1998, in Practical Periodontics and Aesthetic Dentistry Journal. Then it was published twice again, published by Ron Nevens in his journal, IJPRD in 2007. I believe that that chart that we published, to this day, still becomes one of the key articles that I see on major podiums around the world, and people utilize it to make better decisions. Those were solutions that we needed. We need to understand, what would happen if we put two implants together? What would happen if we put an implant next to a pontic? What is the difference in terms of that interproximal support for aesthetics and the inter-dental papilla? It was inspired by Dennis' article in 1992, which is the five millimeter rule. We really took what Dennis did around teeth and we applied it to everything else.


CHRISTIAN: Fantastic. We have immediate tooth replacement by drilling through the teeth, first digital journal. What does that mean?


MAURICE: In 1999 a journal came to us, it was, I believe, Stefano Grases and some of his colleagues. They came up with a digital online journal and they asked us to publish in it. We wanted something different. We took a case and we said, "Rather than damage the bone by extracting a tooth, we solved that problem by removing the tooth by drilling through it using conventional drills and implant drills, and then chiseling out the remaining part of the tooth." That was the inspiration, eventually, to what's led us to today's whole concept of submerged roots and partial extraction therapy. Which, again, I think has been another disruptive concept in dentistry.

Originally a lot of people said you shouldn't do it, couldn't do it. We published in 2007, a submerged root concept. Again, like we all do, again inspired by each other. Marcus was at a meeting where Henry and I presented that, it was the first time when it was published. Marcus was in the front row writing notes. It inspired him. He told me later on and sent me the paper before it was published of what became the socket-shield concept that was published in 2010. I love the fact that there's so many that inspired us and then today we inspire a lot of people as well. I saw that you had our dear friend, Miguel Stanley on your program on Wednesday, and I watched it. I enjoyed the program just like other people may be watching us now. Miguel, I met him when he was a very young, aspiring dentist. I knew that he was destined for greatness. I took a liking to him, and he to us. It was really nice to hear him say how he was inspired by our group.

Christian, I want to bring up something before we end this, Christian Coachman came to our office, ladies and gentlemen. It was a big part of what was and what became Team Atlanta, and what became DSD, and what became so many other things, what became tonight. Christian was nice enough to accept our offer to join our team. We had an unbelievable team and there was Morello, what was his last name? And Pincus was still working with us. We had an enormous talent brought to our lab at a time where we really needed it.

Christian was also a young man with a lot of activities. He was playing tennis. He made a lot of friends. I remember, Christian, if you don't mind, I have to tell the world. I'm going to interview you for the next 60 seconds. Christian lived in my house for a year, and it was one of the most fun years I've had. My kids learned to love him. My whole family, my wife, and all of our colleagues. One of the best things is that, what people don't know, is that I came to Christian after a few years and I said, "You're doing unbelievable stuff in the lab. You need to buy a camera and you need to get a computer. One of these days you need to write an article and you need to lecture." Christian looked at me and said, "You know what? I don't really think that that's something I want to do. I prefer to just wake up and play tennis and make beautiful teeth and beautiful smiles." Which he did very well.

Great tennis player, I've never beat him, unfortunately. It's the one thing I've never been able to do. We had a great time. I think if people want to really know and remember, the first article that you were involved in, we were involved in together. The artificial concept that you did, I had the chance of being an author on that with you, it was outstanding and i loved it. I know it was a lot of work. It was the first three-part series ever published in IJPRD. Started in 2007, we came out finally in 2009. It was a three part paper. Christian put so many pictures and so much writing that Ron Nevens said, "Maurice, this is not a book. This is a journal. I can't publish that many concepts." We broke it, first, into two parts, then into three parts. It turned out to be a landmark paper that I'm very, very proud to be a part of, and Christian, you deserve all the credit. Second of all, I then asked Christian, "Great idea, write a paper. How about if you lecture?" "Nah, I don't want to travel around the world lecturing. I really don't think that's for me."

Now, I think that Christian has lectured more around the world than any dental professional on earth in the last several years. I've been able to come and watch him in Atlanta recently. I'm so proud of what you've been able to do and your message and how you convey it from the stage. You've really became an incredible orator, and you speak beautifully from the stage, very clear, even for concepts that are very new. Your first lecture was with Team Atlanta. First article, first camera, first computer, and first lecture all with us. Now, 10 years later, look at what you have done on your own. We're so proud of you.


CHRISTIAN: This was the first important lecture, a very important lecture I gave. It allowed me moments like this. Can you imagine me, a young Brazilian technician, giving a combined, it's not like we were on the same program, no. All these guys shared the same stage lecturing together. Team Seattle, with some of the biggest guys ever in the world, and the full team Atlanta, the only time we were all together on the same stage. Pincus, Goldstein, Henry, Maurice, Garber, and myself, 2008. This picture, for me, will stay with me forever.


MAURICE: As it should. It was a classic and it'll be relived. It was a moment in time that I think anybody that was there will remember that moment. I think it was magical, Christian.

Like I said, we couldn't be prouder of what you've been able to do even after you went out on your own. You know that you'll always be a part of our team. But also, how fun has it been to continue to collaborate together, continue to drive things forward, continue to do things together? I think as we've always thought, we're always better together.

And to bring in other people that have been inspirational and work with them. The Agnini brothers from Italy, Howie Gluckman from South Africa. These people have been integral for us. The 5D Group in Japan.


CHRISTIAN: I lectured for them, I had no pressure. That was the first ever. That was the first ever. You guys came to me and said, "Christian, you're going to lecture for this group of Japanese. There's 30 Japanese guys. They're in the back room there and they want to hear about the pink hybrid restoration. Go there and give a lecture." I gave my first half an hour lecture in my life in English that day.


MAURICE: What's great is that several years later they invited you to come to Japan and you had pictures with them in Japan lecturing for them. That's the whole idea, the whole concept with Dental XP of always being inclusive, sharing, I think you've done an amazing job sharing your knowledge around the world. People come to me all the time, and I'm sure they're going to start, if they haven't already, come to you, Christian, and ask you, "What is ... If you had to pick one thing, what's the one thing that you're most proud of, that's most special in your professional career?" It's very funny, because most of the time people would say what is it about them individually, an award that you won, a lecture that you gave, most people would think that that would be the case, or a book you wrote, but it's not.

When I asked David and Ron and Henry and I sat together, we one night, over a glass of scotch just like the one I have here because it's Friday night, and I asked this and I said, "What's the most ..." It was unanimous amongst all of us. We said, "Dental XP being able to bring the world closer together.  Making friends, really lifelong and close friends that we've shared personal, really special relationships with." Marcelo Ferar being one of them, as I mentioned before, Manuel De La Rosa, continuing to go out there, the Agnini brothers, it goes on. I'm sure I'm forgetting people, and I'm sorry if I have. Jorge Campos, andAlberto, and Ramon Gomez, it just goes on and on and on.

I think that it was collective for all of us that when we have these live events and all these people come together and we see them sharing their relationships amongst continents and countries and still staying very close together, that's the thing that we're most proud of.

That we brought the world, somehow in our own little way, in our own little world, in our own little profession, we brought that world together and there is no race, there is no color, there is no boundary. The person that really deserves the credit for really bringing that atmosphere to Dental XP was Eddie, the non-dentist in my family.

Anybody and all those people that I mentioned who know Eddie know that Eddie decided after a few years we told him, "This is an online community." He said, "Why should it be only online? Why should these be just digital friends? Why can't we bring them together to live events and share our knowledge together?" The first time we did a live event he said to me, "You think anybody will come?" I said, "I don't know." He said, "What do you think would be a successful outcome?" I said, "You know, 120, 130 people." The first meeting in Vegas, which you were there for, we had over 550 people from over 45 countries. That showed us that we're doing something right, and you know what's exciting, we also should tell everybody is that there is going to be a meeting, save the date, in Atlanta, 50 years of Team Atlanta teaching and research. We're going to have not just Team Atlanta, but we're going to have yourself, DSD, dentists from all over the world, part of your group, part of our group, Christian and I are going to be the scientific chairmen of the meeting, and the meeting is going to be unique. October 26-27 in Atlanta, 26-27. We're going to try to break up the meeting into those cores, and actually bring people that actually took the ideas that were presented by all of us and actually today do it even better than we do. Only 450 people. We're going to really keep it very, very closed. We'll have more information coming in the next few weeks through DSD Facebook. I think that it was a great idea that Eddie had. I think it was great that we got to be able to get it together with you and the rest of the team.

I think it'll be a real special time. It's going to be a celebration of great concepts, sharing ideas, and really looking into the future and to do it in a very, very small, casual, intimate setting where people can really interact and challenge one another, but do it in a friendly way. There's no egos, as you learned very quickly in our office, Christian, there is no egos. We all look at each other as equals. Always have. That will always be the case.

CHRISTIAN: I prefer to say there are egos, but they're all under control, and the egos will never dictate our behavior and friendship.


MAURICE: That's for sure. I just want to say that one of these days when you're very tired and you've gotten off three planes, I'm going to try to play you in tennis. I promised myself before I go, my bucket list is I got to take at least one set.


CHRISTIAN: I'll bring my rackets. I haven't been practicing. That was amazing. I hope we achieved our goal - I really wanted to take advantage, I know I can interview Maurice again to explore more of his life, his career, his ideas, and what he sees as the trends. But since we are celebrating the 50 years of Team Atlanta in the educational environment I couldn't miss this opportunity, also because of the event that we will do together to pay this tribute, number one to Dr. Ronald Goldstein, that needs to be in a separate area in the world of dentistry, together with very, very few people. I always put him there.

David Garber, I always mention my American father while I was there in US for five years. Really supporting me, not only dentally but also in emotionally because it's very tough to change countries, leave your family, and move. Garber was really emotionally taking care of me there. For you, Maurice, and your family for taking me over there, for opening your house, for allowing me to work together and develop together. Above all, as you already mentioned, for one day getting me and shaking me like this, "What the hell are you doing with your life? Do something about it. You have the ideas, you have the talent. Just make something." I will remember that day forever, in your kitchen, in your house.

You can play tennis forever and I will be your friend, but it's going to be a waste. I will be always thankful for that moment. Because of all of that, and I mention also Henry and Eddie, because of all of that, and Pincus, I can not forget Pincus, who embraced me, even though I was supposed to come to take his place, kind of, he was just unbelievable, and we became partners, and I learned so much from him. Actually from every single Team Atlanta member, I just want to say thank you, thank you. That's why I wanted to pay this tribute with this interview. I hope you enjoyed. I was emotional during the interview, preparing the interview, remembering all these moments. Special moment for me.


MAURICE: Christian, I could say exactly the same. You were nice enough to invite me. I'm really happy I was able to do this tonight. You're right, it was a very special week that you and I got to, we actually worked together on this interview to try to collect all of this information, and like you said, it was at times emotional, at times there was also great pride in looking back. I guess sometimes you really should go back and look at the pictures of your family and look at pictures of joyous occasions, and look at old report cards or graduation certificates. In order to, sometimes we get so caught up in today and immediate moments that we don't look back sometimes and appreciate where we've come from and what we've accomplished. I think sometimes many of us out there, because we're so motivated to do good, I know a lot of the people who are maybe still watching us right now are like us, they're motivated. They want to do great stuff.

You're a little bit too hard on yourselves. Look back at all you've achieved. Look back at all you've done. Don't be so hard on yourselves and realize you've done amazing getting to this day, and appreciate the past so you can also appreciate the future. Christian, you were a big part of what we did in Atlanta. You will always be a part of Team Atlanta. Very interesting you mentioned the thing with Pincus and you, but even in that environment still a team player. Pincus to this day, still working in our office, doing cases occasionally with us, and really a very unique part of our team. Now for Pincus since the early-80s. Amazing. I hope maybe we have something unique when you're here for the event in October.

I hope you enjoyed this interview with Dr Maurice Salama and the story of Team Atlanta and were inspired, as I was, to continue to learn and grow as a dentist, and the importance of building a great team. 

If you would like to know more about Digital Smile Design, the DSD Planning Center and the courses we offer, including our four day residency to take the first step to becoming a DSD Master, find out more here:

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Written by Christian Coachman

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