Endodontic community celebrates 25 years of ROOTS SUMMIT

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Science, friendship and a shared passion for endodontics: Endodontic community celebrates 25 years of ROOTS SUMMIT

The enthusiastic organisers of ROOTS SUMMIT, who have been responsible for the meeting since the 2016 edition in Dubai. From left: Dr David E. Jaramillo, scientific chairman, and Dr Freddy Belliard and Stephen Jones, co-chairmen. (Image: DTI)

ROOTS SUMMIT 2024 is currently taking place until 12 May at the Eugenides Foundation in Athens in Greece. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, ROOTS SUMMIT began as a pioneering email study club and evolved into a significant scientific meeting, its inaugural event being held in Canada back in 1999. Known for changing locations, the summit has been held biennially since 2005 and continues to enhance global endodontics with its scientific programme. In this interview, Dental Tribune International (DTI), which co-organises the event, brings insights from co-chairmen Steve Jones and Dr Freddy Belliard and scientific director Dr David E. Jaramillo. They delve into the summit’s history, its strengths and value for the endodontic community, and the challenges it has overcome through the years.

How did ROOTS SUMMIT come into being, and how did it develop over the years?
Steve Jones: ROOTS started as an email study club in the mid-1990s. Dr Ken Serota from Mississauga in Ontario saw the magic in being able to get people together more easily, much more democratically and in an extremely beneficial way to share knowledge through the internet. It was his vision and early efforts that set ROOTS and ROOTS SUMMIT on their way.

How did you get involved with ROOTS SUMMIT?
Jones: I first came upon ROOTS when I was promoted to endodontic product manager at Kerr Dental in late 1999. At the time, rotary instrumentation was quite new. I was not familiar with rotary nickel–titanium files and wanted to learn all I could. I did a Yahoo search for endodontics—this was a long time ago!—and the ROOTS email list came up at near top of the search. It seemed ideal for what I was looking for, which was an efficient way to learn what was important to endodontists, and how we, as a company, could make products that made their workday easier.

ROOTS had seemed to peak at a couple of thousand members as an email group, and when Ken was no longer able to devote the time required to keep things active, he passed the reins to Freddy and me. I handled the logistics and general management of the event with help from Freddy. Freddy immediately said that we needed to move the group to Facebook. This was in 2012, and at the time, I thought it was a ludicrous idea. Thankfully, Freddy understood what that would do and persisted. Thanks to him, we went from well under a thousand members to over 10,000 in just a few months! That number subsequently grew to almost 30,000.

“The camaraderie, friendships and shared passion for endodontics that have developed create something I am truly proud to be a part of.”—Steve Jones, co-chairman

Freddy Belliard: I think Facebook brought us together in a more personal way—we were able to see people’s faces, resulting in a more personal relationship between the members.

Until 2005, I was primarily involved with the mailing list. That year, I attended my first ROOTS SUMMIT in Mexico, and it was an incredible experience. I felt like a small kid in a candy store. I had the opportunity to meet all those professionals I was following on the mailing list, and I had the highest appreciation for them. Meeting a new practitioner was like meeting an artist of our profession. It felt like I was part of a large community of professionals who were really committed.

The first meeting I organised as a co-chairman was in 2016 in Dubai. I supported Steve in the general management of the event, and I was responsible for organising the workshops.

David E. Jaramillo: Steve asked me whether I wanted to become the scientific director of the event. We had been friends for many years, and I joined because I love this guy. I was happy to join and felt honoured to be considered as adviser for the scientific commission because my network spans the globe. The first event for which I put the scientific programme together was in 2016 in Dubai.

Jones: David was the logical choice and the person best suited for the job because he has a stellar reputation as an endodontic researcher and scientist. Luckily, he accepted the offer.

Impressions from ROOTS SUMMIT 2018

How did the collaboration with DTI come into being?
Jones: Freddy and I realised when the group grew to 15,000 that we had something special and significant. ROOTS SUMMIT had a unique character, different to every other event, and that character was based on the consistent integrity of each event as well as on the community involved. We decided then that we had to get organised. My day job took me to the FDI World Dental Congress in Thailand in 2015, where I bumped into DTI’s CEO, Torsten Oemus. He asked about the next ROOTS SUMMIT, which was planned to take place in Dubai. Torsten said that DTI would be happy to be involved, and having known DTI for many years, we briefly discussed who would be responsible for what, what the philosophy of the event was, shook hands, and on we went!

The first ROOTS SUMMIT was held in 1999 in Toronto, and the 2024 edition marks the summit’s 25th anniversary. Can you tell us a bit about the history and milestones of the event?
Jones: ROOTS SUMMIT has significantly evolved since its inception in Toronto in 1999. Initially, the event required substantial industry support, and we were fortunate to have SybronEndo—the company I worked for at the time— provide full funding for subsequent meetings in the US, 2001 in San Diego and 2003 in Anaheim. This was followed by a successful summit in Salt Lake City in 2004, sponsored by Ultradent.

Subsequently, Ken and I collaborated with the Asociación Mexicana de Endodoncia [Mexican endodontic association] for an event in 2005 in Monterrey in Mexico that, despite attracting a large audience, made it clear that we needed to chart our own course. After hosting meetings in Miami in the US in 2007 and 2008 and another in Amsterdam in the Netherlands in 2006 with support from SybronEndo, the company had a leadership change. This shift led to a new management philosophy that diverged from our previous educational and scientific direction.

Despite these challenges, ROOTS SUMMIT was too beloved not to continue. We then organised three extremely well-attended events hosted by dentists in Barcelona in Spain in 2010, in Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil in 2012 and in Chennai in India in 2014.

Impressions from ROOTS SUMMIT 2022

This year marks the 25th anniversary of ROOTS SUMMIT. In your opinion, what are some of the greatest strengths of the meeting?
Belliard: I think the most important strength that we have is clinical relevance. It shows now more than ever that it is driven by clinicians, by people who want to make science become something tangible.

I want to emphasise that our decisions have been driven by the desire to deliver value to dentists. Our priority was always to feature the best speakers, regardless of financial contributions from companies. It is good to see that, despite our differing backgrounds, we have all evolved in the same direction with a unified purpose.

Jaramillo: Organising this meeting is essential for keeping the ROOTS community together. Attendees come expecting high-quality speakers, and they know they will receive the best from us. My philosophy is that everything must be based on science. That’s why integrating solid scientific principles with clinical practice is crucial for us. This approach has proved to be a perfect match, and it’s something our participants genuinely appreciate and value.

“Attendees come expecting high-quality speakers, and they know they will receive the best from us.”—David E. Jaramillo, scientific director

Last autumn, when in Rome, I met dentists from Lithuania. They shared that they find ROOTS SUMMIT unparalleled in terms of quality, regarding not only the scientific aspects but also the atmosphere. The event is incredibly friendly and engaging, making everyone feel as though they are part of a family gathering.

Jones: Our attendees know that they will gain valuable insights which they can immediately apply in their practices, starting Monday morning, to the benefit of their patients. That is where the benefit comes in for our exhibitors and why they support us to the extent that they do without having to dominate. They know that they are going to sell more products when people are doing better endodontics. Without our sponsors’ support, the event would not be possible.

It is wonderful to witness the strength of our virtual community, which continues to prioritise science and has grown into a tangible network over the years. The camaraderie, friendships and shared passion for endodontics that have developed create something I am truly proud to be a part of.

ROOTS SUMMIT 2024 Teaser

Whats your most memorable anecdote about ROOTS SUMMIT?
Jones: During ROOTS SUMMIT in Foz do Iguaçu, Dr Karina Hamid graciously invited a group of us to her family home in Ciudad del Este in Paraguay for a home-cooked dinner. The diversity of nationalities present at the dinner spoke to the true heart of our meeting.

What were some of the greatest challenges that you have encountered throughout the years?
Jones: Managing ROOTS SUMMIT in a different location every time presents logistic and transportation issues; however, since the event is always so much fun, the challenges seem small. The selection of a new venue can also be demanding, as the decision is made based upon several factors; it’s a real alchemy of things that contribute to this decision.

Jaramillo: Key factors in choosing a summit location include the availability of direct flights to the city and the size of the local dental community.

What are you personally looking forward to at ROOTS SUMMIT 2024?
Jones: I love seeing the faces of people when they meet a person they have communicated with online, but never met “live”. It is also special to see people reunite with friends from past ROOTS SUMMITs.

Editorial note:

More information can be found at www.roots-summit.com.

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