The Dentist talks to Koray Feran, clinical director of the London Centre for Implant and Aesthetic Dentistry, about his experience installing a Castellini dental chair.
What model of Castellini chair have you installed?
I went for the space-age Skema 8 which was the top of the Castellini range in 2019.
What was your motivation for buying a new dental chair?
My old chair from a different brand had reached the end of its life – not so much the chair but the bracket table and air and water controls were no longer functioning, and replacements were not available for this design of chair. This was a great chair but showing its age and a replacement became necessary.
How did you research the chair before you purchased it?
I had a fair idea of what was on the market having been to the massive Chicago Midwinter Meeting early in 2019 and had a thorough look around. Strangely, I found some of the top of the range, expensive flagship chairs really uncomfortable. Lots of electronics but almost board-like seats. If I couldn’t tolerate 20 minutes on it without feeling uncomfortable then this was not going to be good for my all-day patients.
Conversely, some of the most comfortable chairs were at the cheaper end of the market but were not necessarily very well built. Lots of padding but lacking solidity.
I felt that the Skema 8, which was recommended to me by Peter Higson of RPA, looked the part. I had a Castellini when I first started out in practice in Highgate in the early ‘90s and its had always attracted attention for being a good-looking and comfortable chair. Of course, that isn’t everything, so I had to try it out. Michael Norton very kindly gave up his time to show me around the Castellini he had had installed in his practice, and having spent some time lying in it, I felt that the memory foam upholstery and overall ergonomics of the chair suited me. I liked it so much, I ordered one!
Why did you opt for a Castellini?
Castellini design had always been cutting-edge although they did at one time have a reputation for having unreliable electronics. However, this was 20 years ago, and I had been assured that things have changed. I have to say that in view of advancing technology, I felt that overall, the dental chair market was a little disappointing. Build quality had obviously deteriorated over time with plastic panels getting thinner and much of the equipment that used to be made in brass or steel being replaced with plastic. The older chairs just seemed more durable.
However, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the Castellini had both the stylish looks and the solidity of build and felt quite substantial to stand up to the day-to-day rigours of a busy dental practice.
Which features prompted you to consider a Castellini chair?
It kind of had everything! Chair comfort and the ability to effortlessly lift 20 stone are important these days. It certainly looked beautiful and the stylish carbon fibre detailed black and gloss white complemented the white of my surgery. Whilst I loved my old chair, its beige tones had started to look dated.
However, I was especially impressed with the sophisticated electronic control panel and the ability to program in different users’ preferences as well as fine control for endodontics and implant work.
In addition, the automatic sterilisation system which had just come out when I had my first Castellini in the early ‘90s had now been upgraded and it makes my nurses job considerably easier as well as ensuring a uniform disinfection of the entire water system.
The treated water bottles are large and well supported and asked for a good duration, a change from the Achilles heel of my old chair which relied on the screw thread to hold the bottle, which often got damaged and led to air leakage requiring replacement of the bottles on a regular basis.
Which chair features make your work easier?
All of them! The hydraulic headrest control that allows three axis stabilisation is very useful and the large digital display is very helpful to be able to see settings out of the corner of your eye.
Handpiece control in terms of speed and torque is simple and intuitive. The ability to set each individual handpiece based on multiple parameters and switch easily between them is very useful to stop having to fiddle with up and down buttons.
The flexibility and stability of the bracket table over the delivery unit is a nice design.
I initially found the foot control quite heavy and cumbersome – my old chair had a very light circular pedal but a separate foot switch for chair position. All of this is integral to one pedal unit in the Castellini. The pedal is a side to side which means that foot switch has to be heavy to prevent rotation of the unit. However, once you get used to it the controls on the foot pedal become second nature. Due to the fact that the foot pedal lever sticks out from the control, it is easy to knock it with one of your stool legs and some subtle changes to foot pedal and stool position were required after my old unit. However, this is only natural after 15 years of using the same chair and I am now used to it.
The only downside is the fact that the access from the nurse’s side is slightly more restrictive than the old chair because the main module that carries the spittoon and water bottle is fixed cannot rotate outwards.
Which chair features do you appreciate the most?
Same as above. However, I also had a light unit with an integral HD camera installed by the RPA team and the camera feed and image quality are superb allowing direct recording to the PC hard drive via an HDMI cable link through the chair under the floor. This allows us to carry out both real-time video for teaching and documentation very easily.
Are there features on the chair which also make your DCP’s work easier?
The auto sterile system is very useful to save time and make chair sterilisation more efficient. The extensive button controls also the nurses’ side do allow a greater degree of control. However, as stated above the lack of movement of the main module on the nurses’ side does restrict their space more than my previous unit.
The tiltable headrest that allows the patient’s head to be rotated left or right is especially useful during long surgical procedures where nurse’s visibility is improved by a patient’s head posture being maintained.
Does the chair reflect your professionalism?
Yes. We normally get comments that the chair is space-age and comfortable for long periods. Full day patients are quite routine in our practice and the chair is the centre of attention. When you enter the surgery, the chair looks clean and modern in gloss white with a stylish black carbon fibre detailing and in keeping with the standards of our practice.
What do patients say about the chair?
Long-standing patients who have known the old chair and the new chair comment on how much more modern the new one looks. We have not had any complaints about the comfort of the chair and the memory foam is a good thickness and width to ensure that patients are well supported. There is always a balance between making a chair plush and comfortable yet keeping the bulk down so that access is easy, and I think that this has been achieved nicely.