Faye Donald

EMS reinvented the GBT wheel ...

Faye Donald, Dental Hygienist, UK 

It’s been a while since I wrote to you but today I felt compelled. I don’t know why, perhaps it’s being away from work with time for reflection or perhaps it’s just an outpouring of gratitude. Maybe both? Either way, here we are again and it feels like the right time for an update...

Last time I wrote I was sitting in a small street cafe in Geneva. I remember it well. I was describing how it felt to have found the Guided Biofilm Therapy (GBT) holy grail. I still stand by that sentiment.
Today I’m in Riyadh, sitting in a beautiful garden, beside a 600 year old olive tree, drinking something called a ‘sweet harmony’. It’s a blend of carrot, ginger and lemongrass and I chose it because the description matched how I see myself as a clinician working with GBT today. Harmonious, balanced, coordinated and at peace with my direction. 

GBT changed my life. I know you know this. I’ve told you before and I’ve sung it from every available platform. I still have a lot of platforms to reach and my determination to introduce this protocol to every clinician in the world remains unwavering. Not because I want to make a name for myself but because it’s ‘the answer’ 
Whatever the question, GBT is nearly always the answer. Think about it. Think about almost every complaint that comes through a hygienists door daily and what do they all need? Effective biofilm disruption and good education. It doesn’t matter what they’re complaining of - GBT is the answer. Sensitivity, gingivitis, periodontal disease, soft tissue complaints, staining, peri-implant disease, denture stomatitis, caries, anxiety, halitosis, you name it. And how do I resolve nearly every case? With GBT of course. In one way or another, GBT is always the answer. 

When have we ever been able to say that before? 

I originally started out with an AIRFLOW MASTER PIEZON®. I LOVED that unit. We worked hard to pay it off month by month but it was worth every penny. I didn’t once wince at the cost. For my peace of mind, for the reduced work load, for the standard of care I was delivering, for the results I was seeing, for the control it gave me and for the sheer joy I’d once again found in my work, it was a small price to pay. I couldn’t imagine it could get any better. 
Then, to my utter amazement the prophylaxis master arrived on my door step. I was speechless  and beyond grateful but nevertheless, to my shame, I didn’t connect it up straight away. For a couple of weeks it sat in the corner of my room, undemanding and quietly tucked away. Watching. Waiting. I’m still not sure why? It certainly wasn’t that I didn’t want it so perhaps it’s that I didn’t feel I needed it. I was somehow so attached to my loyal old friend that I wasn’t sure it was right that this shiny new imposter should come in and upstage us. We were doing just great on our own. 
One day, as I sat scratching my head over a particularly sensitive and challenging patient, I looked across at the box, still sitting patiently in the corner and I wondered. What was so special about this new kid on the block. Why was everyone so confident it could do a better job. Maybe it really did heat the water to 40 degrees. Maybe it was the answer to my problem. Maybe in resisting the next generation of unit I was doing exactly what the clinicians I lectured to were doing when they resisted advancing to GBT... 
That was it! With a clap of my hands I was up and tearing open the bubble wrap that surrounded the components of my shiny new machine. My inner child came bursting out as memories of tearing off wrapping paper on Christmas morning came flooding back to fill my belly with joy. 

EVERYTHING about the new machine was different. Not only did it look different - a smarter, more streamlined design but it handled differently too. It was lighter, more slick and somehow just more intelligent. Patients immediately noticed a difference with almost all of them asking “are you using a different machine today? It felt different”. “Different how?” I would ask, although by the end of the first morning I already knew the answers; “warmer, less sensitive, quicker” they would reply. 
I could NOT believe it. EMS had actually gone & done it. They’d reinvented the very wheel that I’d absolutely sworn couldn’t be reinvented. It was like they’d taken every single aspect and made it better. The design, the powder consumption, the water heater, the foot pedal, the self-cleaning element. Even the clear powder pods made more sense. Fickle or not it took all of one patient for me to toss my loyalty to the old machine out of the window and declare I had fallen in love all over again! 

Interestingly the old machine was relegated to our 2nd hygiene surgery and used only on the days when we had a second hygienist in. It didn’t take long for patients to recognize that the water spray when they received treatment in the second surgery was cooler than when they received treatment in my surgery. Guess what? Patients started declining appointments with our second hygienist, preferring instead to wait until we could guarantee the new machine would be used. They didn’t mind which hygienist they saw but they did mind which machine was used. The comfort and treatment experience had become more important than the clinician. Perhaps this is the first sign that even hygienists will one day be replaced by technology...


So much has changed with EMS in the UK since I last wrote. Ever evolving and ever changing. Just like the technology; adapting with each new and emerging need. But this isn’t about the technology and it isn’t about business and it isn’t about me. It’s ultimately about my patients. What really matters is wether or not GBT has stood the test of time. 
In the early days questions were asked about wether the results we were seeing in clinic could be sustained long-term and if the ‘novelty’ factor would wear off only to see the return of traditional treatment modalities. Without hard evidence and without any proof our opinions were just that; merely opinions. We could predict theoretically where we thought these mouths would be in a couple of years’ time but we couldn’t say for sure. No-one could. 

Until now. And here we are. Into our 4th year since the launch and I’m thrilled to say my patients mouths have never been healthier. When I take the charts of patients with previously unstable periodontal disease, most of whom were languishing in endless 3 monthly cycles of supervised neglect and I compare them with the charts taken this year, the results speak for themselves. Pockets depths? Reduced. Plaque scores? Reduced. Bleeding index? Reduced. Peri-implant complications? Reduced. Caries incidence? Reduced. Rate of tooth loss? Reduced. And it doesn’t stop there. There are the less easily quantifiable impacts too. What about dental anxiety? I might not have the means to measure it but it’s definitely reduced. What about uptake of visits and practice growth. For sure we’re busier than ever. What about the long term effects on me? I’ve spoken before about stress in the work place and the impact GBT had on my mental health and wellbeing. Stress levels? Reduced. What about the physical impact? RSI and back pain? You guessed it - reduced. It can’t all be coincidental.
It’s when I get asked to break it down and determine which specific aspect of GBT got the results that it gets complicated. Is it because I have more time? Is it better Biofilm detection? Is it better OHI? Is it the AIRFLOW®? The PLUS Powder? The PERIOFLOW®? The PIEZON®
The truth is I don’t know. Each element is so cleverly and finely entwined that it’s almost impossible to say and I’ve long since stopped trying to figure it out. I’ve simply accepted that like a complex puzzle, it requires all the bits precisely in the right place to result in success. 

Individually each soldier is just one man, together they are an army.

Today I spoke at the Saudi International Dental Conference in Riyadh. It was my first international invitation and my proudest GBT moment to date. I stood tall and proud as I presented alongside some world renowned speakers as confident as ever that I could show Saudi Arabia how GBT was undeniably the future. Some days I have to pinch myself and check I’m not dreaming as I wonder how my GBT story came to be in demand some 6,000km from my home. But most days I accept that it was hard work, passion and a determination to change the world that brought me here. Don’t laugh! In the words of the great, late Steve Jobs “it’s the ones who think they are crazy enough to change the world who are the ones that actually do”. Just like you did, when you decided to invent a protocol that had the potential to revolutionize the way that dental prophylaxis was delivered throughout the industry, in every nation, across the world. A decision that took courage, determination, investment but most of all - belief.

I will continue my quest with boundless energy and remain humbly grateful for your trust in me and the opportunities that EMS have opened up for me. 

Most of all, I’ll thank my lucky stars for the day that EMS reinvented the GBT wheel ...