A relationship built on trust and a good product

Tony Clough is Clinical Director of Sharrow Dental Care, Advent and Springfield Dental Care, now the largest and most influential oral health service provider in Essex. Here he talks about his wide-ranging clinical work, the challenges brought about by COVID-19 and why he is so reliant on the surgical equipment and customer support he receives from NSK.

My day-to-day clinical work is somewhat different now to how it was 12 months ago. Since the start of the first lockdown in March 2020 we have never closed and have continued to work as an Urgent Dental Centre (UDC), the largest in the east of England, where we’ve treated over 13,000 emergency patients.

As well as dealing with emergencies, we’re now back running routine NHS and private dental care across our three practices, including hygiene care and orthodontic treatment, and we see around 250-300 patients every day. I’ve become less involved in routine dentistry and now concentrate on more complex surgical cases including implant and restorative dentistry, bone grafting and managing dental trauma, which includes treating a range of sporting injuries.

In order to keep up with such a high throughput of patients both myself and my team need to have equipment that we can rely on and that’s where NSK comes in. I’ve been using NSK products for many years and have built up a great relationship with the NSK team, especially with Managing Director, Alex Breitenbach. NSK provides the equipment we use on a daily basis, including surgical handpieces, implant surgical motors and autoclaves, all of which have proved to be extremely reliable and I wouldn’t change them for anything.

Keeping patients safe

The COVID-19 pandemic has naturally had a significant effect on daily working practice. Our patient numbers are increasing as we’ve been seeing a lot of emergency patients who want to continue treatment with us and many new patients are also looking to join. This is on top of our existing patients who we need to keep up with to clear the significant backlog of missed appointments over the past year. We’re working hard to take all the necessary precautions to keep our patients and staff safe, which is why the right choice of decontamination equipment is so important.

When it comes to autoclaves the essential features to look out for are speed, size of load and that the instruments come out dry. Fast but effective instrument sterilisation is vital in today’s environment so an autoclave with quick cycles, large chamber volume and is suitable to process a wide variety of load types including wrapped or unwrapped solid and hollow items is essential.

The real issue around the sterilisation of handpieces, especially in light of the pandemic, is ensuring that the hidden internal surfaces and hollow channels (lumens) deep within the handpiece chamber are scrupulously decontaminated after every use. Hollow handpieces cannot be effectively sterilised without a vacuum autoclave which uses a pump to actively remove all the air out of the autoclave chamber, ensuring that the steam can fully penetrate all instrument surfaces.

We rely on NSK iClave plus B-type vacuum autoclaves to sterilise our instruments and handpieces in daily practice. My nurse loves the iClave plus, not only because the instruments always come out dry, protecting them from any risk of recontamination, but also because they can accommodate larger loads of complete surgical and implant kits in just one cycle. Although a vacuum cycle does takes longer than a non-vacuum cycle, it’s essential to ensure hollow instruments are correctly sterilised and dry, ready for immediate use once again in the surgery.

Working with NSK

I’m involved with training postgraduate hygiene students and I have recently been instrumental in setting up a new trauma pathway course for the East of England where I will be coordinating most of the teaching.

Alongside my clinical work I continue to advise the International Olympic Committee Medical Commission and work with host cities in planning their dental service within the Olympic polyclinic.

I’ve been involved with the Olympics for many years, acting as Dental Advisor on behalf of the International Olympic Medical Commission in every games since Beijing 2008, including London 2012 and the upcoming 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

NSK UK was selected by the organising committee of London 2012 to supply a comprehensive range of handpieces for use in the dental suites treating the many athletes and officials living in the Olympic Village during the games. I worked closely with Alex in preparation for the games and our great relationship continues to this day.

Alex is always prepared to listen, he’s very flexible, broadminded and really listens to what dentists want. If he says he will do something for you he won’t let you or your patients down. He has built up a relationship that’s based on trust and a good product which is so essential – he’s just a really nice guy! Having worked with NSK for so many years I can say that their equipment and customer service are outstanding on every level.


Clinical Director Tony CloughTony Clough


Clinical Director of Sharrow Dental Care,
Advent and Springfield Dental Care

*Specifications are subject to change without notice.
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