Specialist Spotlight – Dr Omar Ikram, Endodontist
Dr Omar Ikram is a Specialist Endodontist, practice owner at Specialist Endo Crows Nest (based in Sydney’s lower North Shore), Specialist Endodontist at Sydney Dental Hospital and current ASE NSW President.
Dr Ikram completed his BDS in 1997 at Otago University and worked for approximately 10 years as a general dentist in New Zealand and England. His interest in Endodontics lead him to study a Masters of Clinical Dentistry in Endodontology at Kings Collage, UK and a Membership of Restorative Dentistry from the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh.
Dr Ikram is a prolific teacher on Facebook @specialistendocrowsnest and Instragram @specialistendo. His openness to helping dental students and recent graduates has reached and inspired thousands.
At Dental Head Start, we had the pleasure of speaking with Dr Ikram to hear the story behind the Endodontist we’ve all learnt so much from.
DHS: When did you know you wanted to specialise, and how long did it take for you to make it happen?
I probably knew in my first year out of University that I wanted to specialise in Endo, but like most new graduates I wanted to give myself time to live a bit after the 5 year course. I worked as a general dentist for 7.5 years before I started specialist training in Endodontics at King’s College, London. Continuing to practice as a general dentist during the 4 year degree.
The story of how I gained a passion for endodontics is an interesting one. One evening I was out with some friends. As my colleague who was beside me left the table, the two other dentists across the table told me that, he was good at Endo. I thought the idea of being good at Endo as a new graduate general dentist using just hand files really wasn’t even possible.
But over the next few days I discussed with my colleague how he had become so skilful. He told me that he had been receiving referrals for Endo from the practice owner and this was something that he was proud of. His advice to me to help me improve to was- “Don’t think about the negative things, just spend the time to do the best you can, even if it takes a long time.” Over the next few months I decided to spend more time on my root canal treatments and little by little the results started to come. Soon I was treating easy retreatments, then molar teeth and then removing posts and retreating teeth.
Satisfaction soon came with self improvement and conquering the area of dentistry which I had previously found impossible .
Over the next few years I purchased loupes, an Endo motor and my boss ordered me some ProTaper Universal files. After my colleague left the practice. I took on his role as the dentist to refer root canal cases to.
In the 9 surgery practice I thought my journey had finished there but it had actually just begun.
DHS: Do you miss anything about being a general dentist?
Being a general dentist was very good, but I found that it was leading me to running a business for patients. The fun part about being a specialist is that you also run a business for your referring dentists as well as patients. Which I find more fun!
DHS: What are the single best, and worst, things about working as an Endodontist?
The best thing about being an Endodontist is having long appointments and the clinical time to do what you want to do. Almost all our patients are seen for an hour on their first visit and then depending on how we go the second visit might be an hour or longer. I like this structure to the day.
The most challenging thing about being an Endodontist is juggling work and life. We need to help our colleagues and patients but we also need to make time for ourselves and our family.
DHS: Why did you decide to start teaching?
I decided to start teaching because I thought after the experiences I’d had early in my career that I had advice to offer new dentists. When I graduated as a specialist I decided I wanted to pursue teaching.
I’ve always liked talking so teaching allows me to make a career out of this!
DHS: You split your time over private practice, public practice and education. What lead you to dedicate time to each of these and how do you find the time?
When I arrived in Sydney I had the opportunity to open my own business, Specialist Endo Crows Nest and I started working a day a week. The Sydney Dental hospital needed a specialist part time and I was lucky enough to get the position there. This has allowed me to have the best of both worlds. After a year of working in practice I was invited to run hands on training courses and now I teach about 8 of these a year. Managing the workload is difficult and I’ve got a very understanding family who allow me time to follow my dreams.
For me being a true Specialist involves non clinical work and I enjoy all of this also.
DHS: Do you have any advice for dental students or new grad dentists who may be considering specialising in the field of Endodontics?
For those wanting to specialise in Endodontics – get as much dental experience as you can. You should be confident in restorative dentistry before you start. Meet other specialists and go and observe them in their clinics.
DHS: Is there a particular clinical tip you’ve learnt over the years that you wish more new grad dentists knew?
Yes! This a good question.
After filling the root canals the best way to remove excess gutta-percha from the pulp chamber after back filling the canals too far is to use a size 1 long shank round bur and gently brush the root filling material. It will then just gradually spin out until you reach the desired level of root filling.
If you’d like to learn more from Dr Omar Ikram, follow him on facebook @specialistendocrowsnest or Instagram @specialistendo for more endo tips and information on in person courses with Dr Omar Ikram.