Optimisation and efficiency of treatments are, for many, two key ingredients for successful dentistry. We have met with a dentist whose excellent working technique has become his trademark, which over the years has influenced many other professionals.

When we mention GertJan van Kalken we think of freedom in the treatment room, four-handed dentistry, and the importance of mastering your dental equipment.

DeTandartsen – a clinic owned by Doctor van Kalken and his wife Doctor Diana van der Vlies – has been a landmark in Papendrecht since 1996. The building clearly reflects the vision of dentistry shared by GertJan and Diana: openness, simplicity, high quality, and most of all, efficiency. From the very first moment one enters DeTandartsen, there is no doubt that everything here works like a Swiss watch, both inside and outside the treatment rooms.

All instruments and materials are prepared before each treatment. My assistant hands me a syringe, motor, sometimes the curing lamp – she hands most things to me. Some people say that it is actually nice to observe the way we work – it is like a dance. If you use four-handed dentistry and have a good dental assistant, it really works like a set of gears. And the best part is that you don’t have to speed up – if the system runs smoothly you will see the results immediately. You may also be sure that your patient will notice and appreciate the smoothness and speed at which you can operate. For them it seems like we are working rapidly, but we are actually moving at our usual, steady tempo.


For GertJan another key to efficiency is the correct use of his dental tools. He knows beforehand what his exact requirements will be during the treatment, and he makes sure to set up the instruments so that they reflect these needs. According to him, the biggest challenge is that most of the manufacturers do not allow the dentist to customise their workflow.

Usually it is not the dentist who is in control of the set-up of various parameters – the manufacturer gives them a tool with the “right” settings and that is that; whereas it should be the other way round – your tools should reflect the way in which you want to work.

If you are a professional, you always want to work in your own way; e.g., I work completely differently from how my wife works, and that is only logical. Everyone is different.

If you work with XO Smart Link1, like we do, you don’t have to constantly watch the parameters of your instruments. And the way I see it, it is not only about the new possibilities that you gain, but is also a good way to set some constraints. For example, with excavation the torque limitation is crucial; so I set all the parameters in order to respond to the specific tissue density, and in that way I am sure I will never do any harm. So it’s simply less on my mind.

My assistant does not feel entirely safe when she needs to use the dental unit with the blue contra-angle that rotates at around 40,000 rpm, and this is why I have created a special prophylactic program for her – with all the suitable limitations that can help her provide perfect treatments without stress.


Of course, the usual problem when changing from the preset instruments might be deciding which parameters to choose. Based on years of experience, GertJan tells us:

Just improvise and try things out. Build up your own preferences, and then you can start defining what you need and what you can let go of. I have all my programs on my foot control – and I never look at it. But it usually takes around one month to define and optimise a preset. I simply do not understand why people do not use the instrument programs more – why don’t they give themselves the possibility to relax?