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Every year, Dentsply Sirona (DS) World offers a comprehensive educational programme with breakout sessions, live demonstrations of surgery, hands-on courses, networking opportunities and live entertainment. This year will be no different, since the event is guaranteed to meet every dental practice’s needs. In the run-up to DS World 2022, Dental Tribune International had the opportunity to speak with Prof. Rainer Seemann, who is an integral part of Dentsply Sirona, about working at one of the world’s largest dental companies and about how it is helping to shape the future of oral health.
Prof. Seemann, could you please introduce yourself to our readers by giving them some information about your professional and personal background?
I am the vice president of global clinical research and currently act as chief clinical officer for Dentsply Sirona. Furthermore, I am a professor in the department of operative, preventive and paediatric dentistry at the University of Bern in Switzerland. I previously worked in several positions at the dental school and clinic of Charité—Universitätsmedizin Berlin in Germany before I joined Dentsply in 2006.
How exactly does your academic expertise benefit your position as vice president at one of the world’s largest dental companies?
As the largest manufacturer of professional dental products and technologies, we do research and education in partnership with researchers and education providers all around the globe. Dentsply Sirona is also one of the world’s top providers of clinical education programmes in the dental industry.
My academic background allows me to confidently assess the quality of research partners and understand the needs of both dental students and professionals, especially when it comes to training and clinical education. I have an influence on the choice of programmes offered, and thus it is my responsibility to keep a finger on the pulse in order to be able to guide our teams in developing the most up-to-date courses in a variety of formats.
Dentsply Sirona promotes the development of innovative training programmes with state-of-the-art technology through extensive cooperation with universities around the world. How would you define Dentsply Sirona’s main objectives with regard to improving global oral health, and what role does the dental industry play, in general, in shaping the future of oral health?
Let me start with answering the last part of your question by asking what dentists can do to improve the health of their patients. By providing science-based dental products and solutions, Dentsply Sirona enables dental professionals to create healthy smiles. That is our wonderful mission!
As far as education is concerned, aside from our own programmes, we collaborate with the leading universities and institutions that are shaping the dentists of the future. To date, Dentsply Sirona has supported 1,000 universities, clinics and hospitals around the globe in the planning and construction of new wings and training facilities. These include the National University Centre for Oral Health in Singapore, the University Center for Dental Medicine in Basel in Switzerland and the University of Otago in New Zealand. We believe that, with reliable simulation units and treatment centres as well as modern digital dentistry solutions, students will be well prepared to provide the best care for their future patients.
Everything we do, including empowering the dental community with state-of-the-art training programmes and ensuring young dental students are equipped to thrive in this new digital era, is done with the aim of improving oral health globally and creating healthy smiles. And when people can confidently smile, they can do more, achieve more, be the best version of themselves. It really is more than just teeth, and I am inspired to work with our partners who are passionate about the same vision.
Recently, students’ outstanding achievements in restorative dentistry were honoured as part of Dentsply Sirona’s Global Clinical Case Contest. Could you please tell us a bit more about this competition?
You have really chosen a personal favourite of mine! The Dentsply Sirona Global Clinical Case Contest, or GCCC, has been held since 2004/2005. The competition is aimed at dental students with less than two years of clinical practice. Each participant documents his or her successful treatment case in text and images and is supported by a university tutor.
This year, over 520 students from around 73 dental schools took part in the competition, and the top three contestants were presented with an award and an array of opportunities for networking and education. I was truly fascinated by the clinical case submission of the first prize winner, Nanthiphorn Pongam from Mahidol University in Thailand. At a young age, she is displaying confident skill, careful knowledge and genuine passion.
Applications for GCCC 2022–2023 are open. I encourage all interested dental students to submit their applications by going to the Dentsply Sirona GCCC website. I look forward to seeing some incredible cases!
Dentsply Sirona has been providing sophisticated training for about 20 years, for example through its academy in Bensheim in Germany. How has the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and the related increasing demand for online training influenced clinical education programmes at Dentsply Sirona?
Looking back, the pandemic was a difficult period for everybody. However, we took it upon ourselves to adapt quickly in order to meet the changing needs of dental professionals globally. Thanks to that, 2021 saw more than 280,000 dental professionals from 74 countries take part in one or more courses offered by Dentsply Sirona, even as COVID-19 restrictions eased and dental practices grappled with a return to business as usual.
“The magnitude of DS World makes it an event every dental professional does not want to miss”
Dentists, technicians, hygienists, dental assistants, students and distributor sales representatives took part in almost 8,000 courses altogether, including live lectures, product training and self-instructional courses. Since restrictions have lifted, appetite for in-person experiences is back on the rise, and dental professionals joined 2,246 live, in-person training sessions on specific Dentsply Sirona technologies in 2021—up from 1,367 in the previous year, making this the most popular course format above both self-study courses and live webinars.
Online on-demand courses also grew in popularity. Therefore, we offered 275 on-demand courses in 2021, compared with 175 the year before, addressing the need for more flexible programmes to fit around increased workloads now that dental appointments are full again.
All our efforts remain focused on improving dentistry in order to provide safer and better dental care. We will continue to listen to the needs of dental professionals around the world and meet their demands so that we can collectively move the industry forward.
This year’s DS World event will run under the theme “Ultimate experience in digital dentistry”. How is Dentsply Sirona living up to this theme, both at the event and beyond?
DS World provides a window into the future of dentistry, which is digital. And the future is already here. Attendees will be among the very first to experience the latest groundbreaking digital innovations live. One of these is DS Core, a platform that connects products, services and technology in the dental clinic. This is a cloud solution, which we developed in collaboration with Google Cloud. DS Core increases efficiency and facilitates working with colleagues and partners. It is the gateway to the digital universe of Dentsply Sirona. Also available in our main exhibition hall is Primeprint Solution, our medical-grade 3D-printing system for dental practices and laboratories, which easily integrates into existing digital workflows, efficiently expanding a range of indications.
We do not stop here. The magnitude of DS World makes it an event every dental professional does not want to miss. It is the ultimate experience in digital dentistry because it is a very complete and compelling event. Aside from the technologies and innovations one can experience here, it is the only event that brings together leading clinical education, networking among peers and world-class entertainment. This year’s headliners are stand-up comedian, television host and Saturday Night Live legend David Spade and multi-award-winning Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Journey.
I can feel the electricity in the air as people from around the world gather in one place to learn, share, exchange and connect, which, in turn, helps dental professionals provide better care to patients. It truly is unbeatable!
In March, Dentsply Sirona announced its collaboration with Google Cloud and Primeprint, a new 3D-printing solution. Are there any other new research projects in the pipeline for this year?
That’s the thing about being pioneers—the end is never in sight. There will always be a new technology to unlock, a new dental challenge to address, a new piece of information to uncover. This is what makes it exciting to be in Dentsply Sirona and in the dental industry in general. I cannot give away anything specifically, but with regard to my area of responsibility, you can expect our future solutions to always have dentists’ needs in mind, backed by clinical research and data, all for helping patients achieve healthy smiles.