Bridge Program -Bridging the gap to private practice


Our Journey


The Bridge programme was founded as Corné and Jean saw the need to fill a widening gap within the industry. The initial programme took place one evening a week for six weeks. It was a huge success.


The format of the programme changed, now spanning two weekends that offered a more immersive and valuable experience. The programme also expanded to Johannesburg.


Two new modules were added to the programme: Endodontics and implants. The programme was also expanded from four days to five, to accommodate a full day on treatment planning and the business of dentistry. These two topics are not taught in depth at university, and we saw a huge impact on programme participants.

More about Jean and Corné.

Co-Founder & Clinical Educator

Jean van Lierop

After graduating from the University of Stellenbosch in 1999, Jean worked in private practice in the Netherlands and the UK. Back in South Africa, he gained his postgraduate diploma in aesthetic dentistry at the University of Western Cape and a master’s degree in restorative dentistry in 2019.

With years of postgraduate training and continual lecturing and education, Jean has developed a deep understanding of reconstructive dentistry and a passion for sharing his knowledge with recent graduates.

A key founding member of the South African Academy of Aesthetic Dentistry, Jean has just been appointed as scientific chair of the South African Dental Association.

Co-Founder & Clinical Educator

Corné Smith

After founding Smith and van Lierop Dentistry 11 years ago, Corné has grown the practice to one of the most successful in the country. Along the way she’s also been recognised as a thought leader and prominent educator within the world of dental aesthetics, lecturing internationally and serving as the president of the South African Academy of Aesthetic Dentistry.

Corné’s pursuit of perfection in slow dentistry means she’s always on the cutting edge of innovation. At the same time, her compassionate approach to patient care means she creates an unrivalled experience which fosters trust and lifelong loyalty from her clients.

Mission & Vision:

Hey everyone, it’s Jean & Corné here, with a more personal note about why we started the Bridge Programme together.

When we graduated from university, it felt like there was no one out there to mentor us and show us the ropes.

At the same time, there was a huge discrepancy between what we’d learned at university and what we were being expected to apply in private practice, and our head clinicians often didn’t have the time or patience to teach us. It was a bit of a rough start, to say the least.

So, we started the Bridge Program to guide new dentists through this transition. To provide the patience, time and expertise necessary to ensure they leave the programme with all the tools needed to survive and THRIVE in a professional environment.

Our goal is to instil a passion for dentistry and a hunger for knowledge, because new technologies are emerging at an ever-increasing rate. It’s essential that dentists continue to learn and grow with these advancements – not only for our own professional development but for the sake of our patients.

Over the years we’ve heard miraculous stories of what our students have gone on to achieve, starting practices, winning international awards and becoming experts in their own right. This is our wish for you, too, and we can’t wait to meet you.

Our Mission & Vision

Full teaching team

Dr Ridhwaan Haffajee

Ridhwaan’s extensive experience in prosthodontics and unbridled passion for the industry make him an invaluable fount of knowledge on the programme, both as clinician and as warm-hearted mentor.
Dr Ridhwaan Haffajee

Dr Mark Bowes

With an extensive and illustrious career behind him, Mark brings unmatched levels of experience to the table. He founded the South African Academy of Aesthetic Dentistry and the celebrated Enamel Clinic, and is an internationally recognised speaker on aesthetics and restorative dentistry. Mark provides a wealth of knowledge and expertise to our students.
Dr Mark Bowes

Dr Hussein C Seedat

Dr Hussein Seedat has presented at numerous congresses and meetings on topics related to endodontics and has published articles in local and international scientific literature. He is in private practice in Umhlanga Rocks, Durban, focused mainly on his passion area of endodontics. A truly profound specialist to learn from.
Dr Hussein C Seedat

Dr Alasdair McKelvie

Dr Alasdair McKelvie graduated from Dundee Dental School in Scotland then obtained an LLM in healthcare law from the University of Wales.

He has worked in general dental practice for more than 23 years, first as an associate, then as the owner of his own practice. He now works for Dental Protection as a dentolegal consultant, and brings a unique and valuable perspective to the Bridge process.

Dr Alasdair McKelvie

Our Partners