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From 22 to 25 September, Cologne will once again become the place to be for dental professionals when the 39th edition of IDS takes place. Mark Stephen Pace, chairman of the Association of the German Dental Industry (VDDI), discussed his optimism ahead of the event and the innovations that he sees as drivers of the dental industry’s future.
Mr Pace, IDS 2021 is just around the corner. Are you worried that another COVID-19 wave will still prevent the trade fair from taking place?
I think we have two options. Either we assume that IDS cannot take place under any circumstances and slide into depression, or we accept the challenge and ask ourselves: what do we have to do to ensure IDS 2021 will be a success for all involved and lead our industry into a new normal? I have unequivocally decided in favour of this second option.
With IDS only a few weeks away, we can sense the promise of a new beginning. IDS will light the way for the whole dental industry!
What steps have you taken to make IDS 2021 a success?
We have created safe conditions in the trade fair halls. The #B-SAFE4business concept has been specifically developed for this purpose and gives us great flexibility. If, for example, the minimum social distancing requirements are decreased or increased the day before the trade fair begins owing to the COVID-19 incidence rate at the time, we can react immediately to the situation. Visitor management will then also change accordingly. This will be conducted via our indoor positioning system, developed in conjunction with Samsung SDS, using the associated eGuard smartphone app.
We must, of course, acknowledge that we cannot prevent unexpected developments related to the COVID-19 incidence rate in the broader population. Anything that occurs under the present conditions over the next few weeks will see us go as far as humanly possible to find a solution for the trade fair. IDS 2021 will be a safe place, not least because visitors from industry and trade, and dentists, dental technicians and their teams deal professionally with hygiene and infection control on a daily basis—and thus will also do so at IDS.
What do you see as the major topics and priorities that are shaping dentistry?
We have all certainly endured some difficult months, but are now realising that it’s going to be different in the future—things are looking up. We must, however, also reorientate ourselves and adjust to these new conditions.
For me, the first priority is to assess the situation and be proactive. Patients come into the dental practice with a greater awareness of health and its various dimensions. Many patients now understand that oral health and general health are closely linked and that strengthening periodontal health is also a protective factor against severe progression of COVID-19. While this has been reliably proved in studies, reduction of other oral inflammation—for example of the dental pulp—through treatment is also a likely advantage for general health. Presumably, this is also a positive component in the defence against COVID-19.
We can take advantage of this increased awareness in patients by discussing the subject with them and using it to create awareness of the importance of recall appointments, as well as the value of high-quality dentistry.
What does this mean for IDS visitors?
As a trade fair visitor, I would look around to see how I can offer patients the best possible dental treatment using state-of-the-art technology. This begins with periodontal prophylaxis—virtually nowhere else can you find such a large selection of manual instruments, sonic and ultrasonic instruments, and powder–water jets. At the same time, information will be available regarding adjuvant measures such as the administration of chlorhexidine and laser treatments. At the trade fair, dentists and dental assistants will also find products that can provide maximum protection of or relief for their tendons, ligaments and joints.
Similarly, with regard to oral inflammation, IDS 2021 offers attendees the opportunity to test and compare proven and innovative procedures and products. To mention just one interesting detail: during diagnosis of irreversible pulpitis using analysis of inflammatory markers, it can emerge that the tooth can still be retained vitally through pulp capping with bioactive or bactericidal material. This approach would probably be employed more often with wider availability of the analytic test procedure.
At previous IDSs, the focus has commonly been on digital technology. Where is the development of digital technology headed?
Digital technologies have, in general, maintained their momentum over the course of the pandemic, and the dental industry remains a leader in this regard. In attending this year’s IDS, both dentists and dental technicians are likely to have the following two questions in mind:
- What can be digitised in my dental practice or laboratory so that I can offer patients added value at a fair and considered price?
- What areas can utilise combined analogue and digital procedures as an alternative to complete digitisation? For example, a complete denture can either be completely 3D-printed or be set up conventionally on a printed or milled denture base with artificial alveoli and retained using an adhesive in the final stage.
“Digital technologies have, in general, maintained their momentum over the course of the pandemic, and the dental industry remains a leader in this regard”
You have already discussed various fields of innovation. What innovation at IDS 2021 will help to take the industry forward the most—perhaps self-regenerating teeth?
IDS always offers surprises as far as innovation is concerned. While self-generating teeth are still the domain of sharks, innovative concepts for single-tooth restoration of implants using digitally supported backward planning, however, is something I can very much picture. Innovations that can be implemented immediately in the dental practice and laboratory will also be present at IDS 2021.
The biggest innovation for me, though, is a new sense of togetherness. I experienced this already at the European press conference in the run-up to IDS 2021, and at the event itself, we are coming together again. We will be talking to each other and actively looking for competition to ensure that we can secure the best deals. Personally, I’m curious to see what interests dentists and dental technicians most, and I wish everyone a safe and exciting IDS 2021.