Interview with ADA president Dr Stephen Liew

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“The World Dental Congress is the ultimate manifestation of key professional ideals”

According to Australian Dental Association President Dr Stephen Liew, the 2023 FDI World Dental Congress will offer evidence-based learning opportunities in a collegial atmosphere. (Image: FDI)

The countdown is finally over. Four years after its last in-person event, the FDI World Dental Congress is making a return. Dental Tribune International spoke with Dr Stephen Liew, president of the Australian Dental Association (ADA), which is hosting the event, about the growing excitement in the run-up to the congress and discussed the enormous amount of work that has gone into the planning and execution of the congressall to expand the knowledge and skills of dental professionals worldwide. 

Dr Liew, it has been four years since the last in-person World Dental Congress. How excited are you about the congress, and what are you personally looking forward to at this year’s event?
In this period of social reconnection, it is a great honour and exhilarating to prepare to welcome thousands of delegates from Australia and across the world to our renowned harbour city of Sydney as the ADA federal president. 

As the global dental profession, we provide vital oral healthcare to improve the quality of life of the global population. To do this effectively, we first must keep our knowledge at the forefront of clinical excellence via evidence-based learning. Secondly, our enjoyment of practising our unique skill set is enhanced by the warmth of collegial shared purpose, which crosses all borders. 

The World Dental Congress is the ultimate manifestation of key professional ideals, and I cannot wait to share our efforts with all attendees, overlooking the world-famous Sydney Harbour and iconic sights. 

It takes a tremendous amount of work and dedication to organise an event of such scale. Could you tell us a bit about the ADA’s contributions to bringing the congress to Sydney?
The ADA and FDI World Dental Federation have worked collaboratively over a journey spanning years of global disruption to bring the dental community this landmark World Dental Congress, the first one held face to face since 2019. We were well into our preparations for the 2021 congress when the global pandemic hit and had to make many tough decisions to delay the in-person event, pivoting to utilise our assets in virtual form. It was a difficult journey, albeit we were incredibly happy with the virtual congress we held for the world in 2021. 

Sydney is especially known for its iconic harbour, which has a shoreline of more than 240 km. (Image: Taras Vyshnya/Shutterstock)

An event of this scale relies on many entities, including FDI and the ADA, as well as the support of local government and international key industry partners. We must thank them for their support, and we recognised that the 2023 congress had to be a triumphant return to form to honour their contributions. I must also acknowledge the substantial efforts of our national organising committee, chaired by Dr Shane Fryer; our events team, led by Oscar van Elten and Shana Ludwell; and our event partners at FDI, led by Enzo Bondioni and FDI President Prof. Ihsane Ben Yahya in delivering an event of this magnitude.  

We aimed to ensure that collegial connections are enhanced and gained during the event, facilitated by social highlights spread throughout the programme and unique wayfinding at International Convention Centre Sydney designed to lead to many spontaneous catch-ups. Bringing the world of dental practitioners together is a privilege, and one we will not waste. From the opening ceremony to the Sydney showcase evening and after-exhibition happy hour events, our team has put together some incredibly unique entertainment, but I will not spoil the surprises here! 

The overall highlight to me is to be able to visit such an iconic city and the wonderful country of Australia, combined with incredible professional opportunities. We encourage attendees to bring their families and colleagues. This year’s event should not be missed, as the World Dentel Congress is unlikely to return to Australia for many years. We invite dental professionals to take the opportunity to enjoy our corner of the world!

“Bringing the world of dental practitioners together is a privilege, and one we will not waste.

The event will feature some of the most accomplished and insightful presenters in dentistry. What are some of the key topics that will be explored during the four days of the congress?
The scientific programme we have on offer is the result of hours of careful planning to ensure attendees are spoilt for choice. The quality of the more than 150 speakers is world-class, and they will be providing over 200 hours of education for career advancement. We would like to sincerely thank the ADA’s scientific committee, led by Dr Hugo Sachs and ADA Deputy CEO Eithne Irving, and the FDI Education Committee, chaired by Dr William Cheung, for their tireless efforts. There will also be several symposia featuring clinicians who are some of the best in their field and who will be presenting the latest information on a range of topics, including vaping, pain management, dental implants, the good and bad aspects of aligners, dental sleep medicine, dental trauma, oral cancer and dental stewardship of medicines. 

What do you wish for everyone attending the 2023 World Congress?
The honour of hosting a World Dental Congress in Australia is rare, and the ADA is proud of the experience we have carefully curated for the professional and personal enjoyment of the attendees. The days at congress can pass like a whirlwind, so we encourage everyone to stay present and enjoy every moment. We hope that they will leave with friends for life, a refreshed outlook on the bright future of clinical dentistry and a new-found appreciation of Australia’s larrikin spirit [good-natured irreverence and a disregard for convention]. 

Editorial note:

More information about the event can be found here.

ADA Australia Dental congress Dental event FDI Networking Scientific research WDC

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