The Future of Dentistry

Fresh dentistry graduate Gregorio Tortora: “Specialization will be fundamental in the future”

As a child, he used to spend a lot of time in his father’s dental office. When the time came to decide on a future profession, Gregorio Tortora, 24, considered medicine and dentistry. Today, a few months after graduating from the Dentistry and Dental Prosthodontic Program at the University of Naples Federico II, he has absolutely no regrets. Specifically, he feels there is better opportunity to nurture patient relationships in dentistry than in other medical fields.

Gregorio, why have you chosen to study dentistry?

As a child, I always spent a lot of time in the dental office owned by my father, but even so, my choice wasn’t so predictable. I was hesitant whether to study medicine or dentistry, and then a series of events took the decision out of my hands. 

Today, I have to say that I’m happy with the way things turned out: Dentists enjoy a relationship with their patients that some other professionals do not. For me, this is an added benefit that I hadn’t considered before I started my studies.

Curaden cares about students

What lies ahead for dentistry? And how does the youngest generation of dentists feel about their profession?

We like to talk to dentistry students and young professionals to find out more about the future of dentistry. At Curaden, we know that highly educated dental students means a future of great coaching, lifelong tooth preservation and improved overall health for all patients. It’s part of our mission to support the next generations of dental professionals with a series of annual events across the world.

How do you imagine your future from a professional point of view?

I would like to deepen my knowledge of orthodontics because I like the biomechanics concepts that the course entails. Certainly, I could follow my father’s footsteps and work in his office, but I’d prefer to build my own path by becoming an authority in Orthodontics and managing some area of importance in the field.

“Dentists enjoy a relationship with their patients that some other professionals do not.”

At Curaden, we believe that a dentist should be not only a valuable professional, but also a good teacher: It is the best way to educate the patient properly about oral hygiene. Do you think that this aspect is considered adequately in the course? 

I totally agree, and I think that this aspect is not considered enough during the course. I hope that, on the other hand, dental hygiene students receive appropriate instruction on the topic. In fact, it is fundamental to work as a team (dentist-hygienist) in order to educate patients right from the early years – and to make the job easier and more effective for both parties.

What did you think of Italy from an academic point of view, in comparison with other countries?

Probably abroad there’s less theory and more practice. I think this is the major difference and it seems to apply to different academic spheres. The student is often left alone to find information and display the initiative to access specific channels. The University could be more helpful in this case, because practice is fundamental to learning the job properly, especially in this field.

“Specialization will be fundamental in the future; the definition of dentistry as we know it today won’t exist anymore.”

During your studies and beyond your own academic exams, you’ve dedicated your efforts to another initiative. How did you connect with the Association of Dental Students in Italy (AISO)?

Emilio Fiorentino, my predecessor, introduced me to this reality. He is from Naples as well, and he explained to me the purposes and aims of AISO. To date, I’m very grateful; he helped me discover a beautiful reality, a big family, where I’ve met a lot of friends and valuable people.

A big family with clear goals. What are the main results achieved by AISO in the last year?

The main goal of this Association is to be the glue between students, the University and the job market. AISO aims to be a forum both for discussion and for the protection of dental students in Italy. We’ve established several partnerships, such as the one with ANDI (National Association of Italian Dentists), and AIO (Italian Dental Association), and we always try to communicate with our members, for example through assessment questionnaires, in order to better understand the real differences between various universities.

What is AISO?

AISO, the Italian Association of Dental Students, is the only officially recognized student dental association in Italy, and connects universities and students to the world of professional dentistry.

AISO aims to protect the rights and interests of students and to make a contribution to the education of future dentists, in order to equip them with essential knowledge of the problems linked to oral health and to the working environment. AISO carries out all of these initiatives through legal activities linked to the different areas covered, with an emphasis on events and ventures at both the local and national level.

How do you think dentistry will evolve in the future?

Specialization will be fundamental in the future; the definition of dentistry as we know it today won’t exist anymore. It’s necessary for the dentist to have overall knowledge of the subject, but only through specialization will he be really up-to-date in his field. I think that several companies will be founded by professionals – dental offices characterized by different specialized figures within. At least, I hope so. 

Photography by Welin Nagyová