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First hybrid edition of EAO congress will critically evaluate technological developments in dentistry

This year’s EAO congress will be held in Geneva in Switzerland and will be the first in-person meeting since 2019. (Image: Benny Marty/Shutterstock)

From 29 September to 1 October, the annual scientific meeting of the European Association for Osseointegration (EAO) will take place as an in-person event again, the congress having been held in a virtual format for the last two years, owing to COVID-19. The meeting, which will be held at Palexpo in Geneva in Switzerland, will make its comeback in a hybrid format, presenting an online evening programme in the style of the EAO Digital Days. In this interview, congress chair Prof. Irena Sailer shares what participants can expect, explains the hybrid format in more detail and introduces a main focus of the congress programme: the critical examination of investments in novel technologies and their actual benefits for clinicians and patients.

Prof. Irena Sailer, chair of this year’s EAO congress in Geneva in Switzerland. (Image: EAO)

Prof. Sailer, this will be the first in-person EAO congress since 2019. What can participants look forward to, and what are you personally looking forward to?
This EAO congress will be a very special one, indeed, as it is the first time since the pandemic started that the EAO is holding an in-person congress. Participants will have the opportunity to engage with colleagues and friends, to learn from excellent speakers and to benefit from everything that the EAO has prepared for them in the exciting international city of Geneva. EAO congresses have always felt like a family reunion, a yearly meeting of the EAO community. We hope to rekindle this feeling again this year, as we have missed it in the past years.

The congress will be held in a hybrid format. Can you tell us a bit more about this?
This year for the first time, we are holding a hybrid congress—offering two congresses for the price of one! Each congress day will have a virtual part in the evening, similar to the EAO Digital Days of the past two years. This digital part will mostly be for those who do not want to or cannot travel to Geneva. It will feature congress teasers and summaries of the respective day, such as short summaries of the plenary sessions or live recorded parts of the discussions. Although it will not replace the congress, the evening programme will be informative and entertaining.

The theme of the EAO congress is “Uniting nations through innovations”. Can you elaborate on what this means exactly?
Well, many major global organisations, such as the World Health Organization and the Red Cross, are headquartered in Geneva. It is also known for the United Nations Office, housed at the Palais des Nations. This is what inspired the theme of this special EAO congress. The EAO is known for its international character, and it is our goal to reunite nations in the discussion about the influence of technologies and innovations on our daily practice and patient care.

A main topic of this year’s EAO congress will be the evolving role of technology in implant dentistry. I saw in the programme that some sessions will be critically examining new technologies and investments in them. Can you give us a preview of what will be covered during the event?
The congress will focus on the timely and controversial topic of the influence of technological developments on our practices and the treatment quality delivered to our patients. It is, indeed, our aim to critically evaluate all the new developments that are offered to clinicians today. All these new tools that promise to improve quality of care while reducing treatment costs for patients do sound tempting, but we will ask whether all of this can be achieved just by investing in technology and changing the practice structure from a conventional one to a digital one. Many dental professionals are asking what evidence there is behind these rapidly appearing developments and whether the evidence is sufficient to abandon well-established paths.

We will try to address these questions reasonably in all sessions, and it is our aim to come to a conclusion on the entire topic in the last plenary session on Saturday. We will discuss intensely which investments in technological developments are worth making for daily clinical practice and which are not. Thereby, the focus will also be on the benefits for patients—what are the patient-reported outcome measures in the evaluation of new technology?

What other topics concerning implantology and periodontics that could be pioneering for dentistry will be discussed?
The first plenary session will elucidate what virtual human technology exists in areas outside of dentistry and medicine. This session promises to be truly exciting, as we dentists do not know what computer graphics and the entertainment industry can offer today. The second plenary session will be a live surgical session, in which two highly experienced surgeons, Drs Mario Roccuzzo and Istvan Urban, will perform hard-tissue regeneration supported by digital tools, and their advantages and limitations will be intensely discussed by a group of experts. The last plenary session will summarise everything that has been presented and will—more in a philosophical way—elaborate on the topic of whether investment in new technology really improves patients’ and clinicians’ lives.

In addition to these very interesting plenary sessions, the programme will focus on innovations for treatment planning and communication, for implant surgery and for implant prostheses. The topics follow the sequence of a treatment, and we hope that all attendees will find something new to learn, independent of their specialisation or practice structure.

In addition, interesting patient-oriented topics will be covered, such as a session on the unhappy patient. It will focus on how communication between clinicians and patients can be improved and how expectations can be better managed to avoid disappointment.

The congress will focus on the timely and controversial topic of the influence of technological developments on our practices and the treatment quality delivered to our patients

Since events started to return to an in-person format, I have heard from attendees that engagement with other dental professionals has gained greater priority than before the pandemic. How is this congress going to meet this increased need for socialising and exchanging of experiences?
Our EAO office colleagues have put great effort into establishing the structure of the congress venue in a way that is very inviting for socialising and exchange. In addition, the evening events, such as the members’ dinner and other parties, will be great occasions to meet like-minded peers.

It goes without saying that we will comply with all measures required in relation to COVID-19 throughout the EAO congress and related events.

Would you like to add anything?
Because the congress is taking place in Switzerland and because four Swiss dental organisations (the Swiss societies of implantology, of oral surgery, of periodontics and of reconstructive dentistry) are partners of this year’s EAO congress, we would be especially delighted to welcome as many of our Swiss peers as possible! The organisations have planned a Swiss day, a highly interesting and interactive congress programme specifically dedicated to our Swiss peers and association members which will take place on the first day of the EAO congress.

This is a historic moment that dental professionals should not miss. We look forward to welcoming you all to Geneva soon!

Editorial note:

The digital congress programme will be available on the EAO online platform until 3 October. More information on the congress and registration can be found at congress.eao.org.

CE credits Dental education Dental implantology EAO congress Osseointegration

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