Interview: “There is constant innovation in the area of whitening”

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Interview: “There is constant innovation in the area of whitening”

Dr. Burkhard Selent is one of the many top speakers at the ADA FDI World Dental Congress 2019. (Photograph: Dr. Burkhard Selent)
Monique Mehler, Dental Tribune International

By Monique Mehler, Dental Tribune International

Thu. 29. August 2019


Tooth whitening treatments are of increasing importance in general dental offices and patients’ expectations of their family dentist are rising, as more and more new technologies enter the market. In a presentation to be held at the American Dental Association (ADA) FDI World Dental Congress in San Francisco, a panel of key opinion leaders in the industry will discuss whitening treatments as a practice builder and introduce a brand-new product to the market. Dr. Burkhard Selent, a chemist and environmental engineer who has worked for Colgate-Palmolive for almost 20 years, is one of those experts scheduled to speak at this year’s event. In an exclusive interview with Dental Tribune International, he provided a sneak peek at what is to be expected.

Dr. Selent, since May 2016 you have been the Scientific Affairs Manager for Colgate in the U.S. What are your main responsibilities in this job?
My main task is to manage continuing education activities in the U.S. These are virtual activities, like webinars on Colgate Oral Health Network, and events at conventions and conferences when we offer Colgate-sponsored symposia and lectures to our professional audience. On an annual basis, Colgate sponsors roughly 200 lectures across the country.

At ADA FDI 2019, you will be presenting a lecture titled “Whitening as a practice builder” together with other experts. The audience will be watching on-site and at home via the Dental Tribune Study Club live stream. What can they expect?
Colgate has introduced the new Optic White whitening system in the U.S., which uses ionic technology. No light or heat is needed. The whitening gel is activated by a gentle electrical current, resulting in accelerated whitening. I will be moderating a lecture with three other speakers. We have a chemist and two dentists talking about the latest technologies in the marketplace, the clinical results and the opportunity to actively use whitening to grow and build your practice.

What are the latest trends in tooth whitening, and how have the patient’s expectations changed over the years?
There is constant innovation in the area of whitening. We are moving away from bulky and expensive lights to small and comfortable devices that patients take home after the procedure for less expensive touch-ups later on. New technologies have entered the market and promise the same results faster, reducing chair time and costs in the office. And manufacturers have moved from custom trays, which require an additional appointment for tray fabrication, to adaptable mouthpieces, which can be used directly from the shelf. Patients ask for and expect safe, comfortable whitening procedures that do not cause tooth sensitivity. And those options are available.

Do you think that most dentists meet these expectations or is there a lot of catching up to do?Even for us who work in this business, it is a constant task to stay up to date with the latest trends and technologies. I strongly believe there are new updates constantly available for any dental professional in the area of whitening.

Beautiful white teeth have been a beauty standard for a long time now, but getting one’s teeth bleached professionally can be a costly procedure, which is why many people resort to home treatment kits that they order on the Internet. Personally, what do you think about this trend?
When it comes to products that I use with the intention of changing my appearance, then I have two priorities: safety and efficacy. And those I cannot buy online. I need to ask a professional whether I should consider whitening my teeth, what the best options are and discuss costs. A whitening treatment in the office can cost several hundred dollars. This is the option for patients who need results in a day. But there are less costly options, which patients can use at home, available from dental professionals. It takes longer, but patients get the same level of safety and efficacy.

Is there anything you would like to add?
I suggest that those following this lecture online consider attending the ADA conference next year. There is so much more to explore besides lectures and presentations.

Editorial note: The presentation with the title, “Whitening as a practice builder: A conversation with the experts,” can be attended on-site at the ADA FDI World Dental Congress in San Francisco or watched via the Dental Tribune Study Club live stream on Sept. 5, 2019, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. (PST).

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