I became aware of Olivier Tric on Instagram. He is an exceptional Dental Technician. His work is precise and so perfect in shade and shape that it is indistinguishable from a natural tooth. An inspiration. Great Cinema. Champions League.
And while we’re about footballing comparisons, I first ask Olivier the question of all footballing questions: Messi or Ronaldo? Ronaldo, of course! Laughs Tric and we are ready now to start the interview.
How it started
I would like to know how it all started. Has it always been his wish to become a dental technician?
“No, as I boy I dreamed of becoming an architect” Tric explains: «The origin of my career as a Dental Technician is now almost 30 years ago. But I can still remember it very well. That summer in Marseille, my hometown. I was 16 years old when my parents told me it was time to find a job! And this while my colleagues were dating girls and hanging out on the beach! ” He adds with a laugh.
Lab instead of beach
So instead of swimming and eating ice cream, Tric spent that summer with stone and wax in a friend’s dental laboratory. He liked the job right away. Love at first sight, he admits in his charming English with a slight French accent. And maybe it’s that summer, where the ambition, the determination, the desire to be among the best came from, I think. Because for him it was clear to always orientate himself upwards. That’s why he called Willi Geller.
Call to Willi Geller
He had heard of the famous Swiss dental technician, admired his cases. “There was this pay phone in our street. I called Willi Geller from there. But the phone was answered by his assistant, Ms. Spitznagel (still working there, editor’s note). She had not even put me through to Mr. Geller. My English was so bad that she didn’t understand what I wanted.”
Ms. Spitznagel as she lives and breathes, I think with a smile. It took me a few calls, too, before I could interview Willi Geller. For Olivier Tric, 2 things were clear after that ultra-short phone call. “First, that I won’t stop working on myself, on my skills, until I’m also one of the best Dental Technicians in the world. And second, that I need to learn English!” says Tric with a laugh. So, he traveled to America. At some point, the language study trip turned into a permanent move. Today, you’ll meet Tric in Chicago. In a stylish lab with floor-to-ceiling windows. Lots of space, lots of light. 6 employees in the team. But you won’t find milling machines and scanners here:
The coffee machine is the most expensive machine
“I deliberately hold back with the digital workflow. When I give a presentation, I usually start with a photo of my beautiful, large coffee machine. Because this machine is the most exquisite machine in my lab! I don’t think we need machines to make teeth. Maybe a microscope ok, but with veneers on a refractory die, all we need is a brush and a veneering ceramic system. And of course, talent and craftsmanship.”
Making good use of new technologies
I want to know if he doesn’t like the new technologies. After all, if you work traditionally, you risk looking a bit old-fashioned. “I’m very interested in the new technologies. I am also interested in modern materials. My mind is very open and scientific results and studies are of burning interest to me. But that doesn’t mean that I find every invention and innovation in our profession useful. One should consider which method makes us a better technician. Which tools bring something to the result, the patient? Because that is what it is all about. Even modern applications don’t make a mediocre technician or dentist a good one.”
Digital or analog
Olivier Tric is very concerned about digitalization. I notice that during the conversation, and you can also see it on his posts on social media. Quality is the top priority. If he achieves this Champions League standard, as I mentioned at the beginning, only with traditional methods, then he also applies them. And he’s not afraid to make a splash with the industry or fans of digitization.
Zirconia in transition
“I have nothing against monolithic crowns. If the material and the processing is good, why not? And honestly, 10, 15 years ago I was completely against zirconia. Because even though it is biocompatible, I couldn’t use it as a base for my work, because I couldn’t do anything with the color, this deadish white. Zirconia, however, has improved enormously in the meantime and is translucent. So now there are cases where I admit that zirconia is the best material. You see, I can adapt indeed.” says Tric. I ask him how he works with zirconia without Cad/Cam: “I have it milled externally. I wax up the framework by hand and send it to the milling center on the plaster model.” Sounds familiar. Tric makes a very strong case for using any material after careful consideration of the indication.
The time is now
Tric thinks, dental technology has developed positively. He talks about the old days, which were filled with whole jaws restaurations in metal ceramics. Describes the trembling and sweating when opening the furnace, with a hopeful look to make sure there was no crack. A lot has happened and improved since those days. Dentistry today is more precise, minimally invasive, and now the best, he tells me.
Honest and open
Oral design member Olivier Tric says for him, being open and honest is one of the most important things. And to stay true to yourself. By constantly learning but not forgetting the old. “It saddens me to see talented dentists and technicians succumbing to the industry’s pressure to ‘be modern’. The tried and true, such as a flawless, absolutely precise manual impression, is abandoned in favor of a worse digital impression. Quality should never be abandoned.”
Not faster, better!
I ask Tric how he, or a lab owner can decide which dental novelty is an investment or not. “For me, the question when purchasing new technical equipment is very clear. First, does it make me more precise? Second, does my work gain in esthetics and function in wearing comfort? And third, can I work more minimally invasive with it? If a new machine meets these criteria, I use it. I don’t buy a robot because it’s cool to have a robot. Besides, robots are a great tool in the car industry for mass production. We however reproduce teeth. These are unique.”
Engaging the patient
Tric clearly has a mission. Not only does he want to help dental technicians improve by sharing his experience, his knowlege, but he also wants to inform patients directly. “This contact is enormously important, an elementary piece of the puzzle to success.” He relates that patients do approach him directly with a desire to improve and design their smile. After a case discussion, he sends them to the appropriate dentist to solve the case together.
Atelier Dentaire International
Two years ago, Tric started the association “Atelier Dentaire International”. The group is similar to what you might know from the group ‘Oral Design’. The idea behind it is not to compete, but to be better in a network. Ethical principles apply and it is about the patient’s well-being. And to show the profession of Dental Technician to a wider audience. In the meantime, 15 internationally renowned technicians have joined Atelier Dentaire International.
Its time to act, now!
Olivier Tric speaks from the heart of many when he says how paradoxical it is that everything from lab rent to brushes has been considered more expensive. He however, as many dental technicians, had to lower his prices. “Small labs and many talented technicians often lose heart when all around them big labs are luring with fast-produced cheap crowns. It is time that action is taken. We want to increase quality again. We must show what dental technicians can do and why we are needed.”
Those are clear words that reach me from Chicago. I see Trics passion for the profession. The desire to do justice to aesthetics and beauty. He is a role model. He not only shows his skills, he passes them on. Stands up for his views, for the profession and the Dental Technician craft. I like that very much. At the end of this interview, I ask Tric how he sees the future?
The future is…
“Today’s preparation methods in dentistry are less aggressive. This allows us to work more conservatively. In addition, teeth have become brighter, so we need talented ceramists. Because reproducing very white teeth is demanding. They must look alive and not just like a piece of paper. That takes knowledge. We also must work with absolute precision. And, as I said, we have to involve the patient. That is a very important point for me. Showing what and who we are and how we work. That’s the way how our work can be appreciated. We should use the new technologies. Not to be faster or cheaper but to be better. In my opinion thats the right way. Thats our future.”
Thank you very much for this interview! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and passion. All the best to you Olivier!
(all photos are made by Olivier Tric and show his own work)
Adress: Olivier Tric / Oral Design Chicago, 222 S.Morgan Suite 2D, Chicago, Illinois 60607 USA
This article was published in German in ZZS Zahn-Zeitung Schweiz Zahntechnik Magazin http://www.zahnzeitung.ch