EAS congress: It felt good to be back at a live event!
It is a pleasure to report back on our first live face-to-face event in over a year and a half. In Malta, the European Aligner Society (EAS) hosted its third international congress, which had to be postponed several times from the original date in March 2020.
There was an air of excitement as companies unpacked their equipment to set up their incredible stands in the exhibition hall and delegates arrived. Colleagues from all over Europe and various countries around the world were once again reunited. Hilton Malta was a fabulous backdrop to the congress, which began with workshops on 7 October to warm things up. Delegates could choose from various workshops hosted by a number of the companies present, allowing them to experience a more intimate hands-on experience.
The main plenary session started on Friday and continued on Saturday. Although the number of delegates was understandably lower than originally planned, there was a palpable atmosphere of excitement as the plenary session was opened by the president of EAS, Dr Alain Souchet, and his event organising team, Dr Tommaso Castroflorio, Dr Francesco Garino and EAS CEO Dr Les Joffe. The programme aimed at addressing certain aspects of aligner orthodontics, and the morning sessions were dedicated to diagnosis and treatment planning, which obviously transcends any specific aligner system, as this is probably one of the most important steps in successful orthodontic treatment. Without doubt, the message was that we now have the facility for 3D treatment planning, incorporating CBCT scans, and there has been incredible digital advancement in using this data to generate 3D tooth movement treatment plans, allowing even more realistic visualisation of tooth movement. It is becoming apparent that this incredible digital advancement is allowing us to visualise not just crown movement but, almost more importantly, the root movements as well. The ability to move the roots to the correct place could be more significant to successful outcomes and predictability than we originally thought, and CBCT gives us the ability to assess this. A statement that sticks in my mind as many of us battle with the investment and use of CBCT is that, when the lateral cephalogram was first introduced, most rejected its significance, and it took a further 20 years before it was widely accepted in orthodontic treatment planning. People are generally resistant to change, and this may be the case for CBCT at present. However, the quality of the presentations and the evidence suggested is persuasive that 3D treatment planning is the next evolution in orthodontics. As always, these new horizons are exciting developments in our wonderful world of orthodontics.
The afternoon session and Saturday session focused on clinical tips to improve predictability in aligner therapy. Presenters discussed practical solutions to the common challenges we all encounter in aligner orthodontics, and the use of temporary anchorage devices (TADs) to enhance predictability was a common theme. TADs not only offer improved anchorage (directly or indirectly), but can also reduce unwanted vectors of force. Of course, correct placement of TADs is crucial in achieving our treatment objectives. Sound biomechanical knowledge of how to achieve the final result influences the placement of TADs, and once again, understanding 3D movement influences TAD placement. Another theme that came out of the presentations was correct staging. The advantage of plastic biomechanics is that it allows us to stage movements sequentially, reduce velocities when appropriate and assess our anchorage requirements precisely. Pushing the envelope to include orthognathic surgery was impressive to see. It was also refreshing to see different aligner systems coming to market and producing some impressive results.
“The welcome return to live events made me realise how much I had missed them”
With aligner therapy now a mainstream approach to successful orthodontics, EAS was delighted to announce the introduction of the European Board of Aligner Orthodontics certification for excellence in aligner orthodontics. The accreditation process will require five cases to be submitted and presented by the candidate to the accreditation board, as well as an oral examination, and success will result in prestigious EAS accreditation, confirming excellence in aligner therapy. Details of the process can be found on the EAS website, and application is open to anyone confident in treating with aligners.
The welcome return to live events made me realise how much I had missed them. Online meetings are great for short presentations, but you forget how wonderful a live event is until you are back in an auditorium sharing the learning experience with other enthusiastic colleagues and being educated and entertained by the different personalities and presentation styles of our esteemed presenters. Being able to ask questions face to face, interact with the presenters and share ideas with others is a welcome return.
I would like to thank the Maltese people, who made us feel very welcome. Their friendliness and obvious patriotism to their wonderful country is heart-warming. I will not forget our tour guide one evening, who epitomised this, as she so proudly shared the Maltese heritage in the historic and walled town of Mdina. To the delegates and companies who made it across to Malta, we thank you for a wonderful few days together and getting the ball rolling for the return to live events. EAS looks forward to welcoming you all to our spring meeting in Oporto in Portugal on 6 and 7 May 2022 and then to our fourth congress in the wonderful city of Turin in Italy on 11–13 May 2023.
Thanks to EAS and everyone involved for making this yet another memorable occasion.
With thanks and kind regards to all,
Dr Graham Gardner, director and first president of EAS