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BRUSSELS, Belgium: On 1 December, dental professionals from around the world gathered for the launch of a new, virtual reality (VR) environment called Dentaverse. Based on Web3 technologies, Dentaverse aims to create a meeting point for the global community of dentists, dental students and dental industry professionals. According to its founder and CEO, Martin Ravets, the platform has the potential to bridge the gap between physical and virtual oral care and to overcome the barriers of time and distance in order to create a truly inclusive international dental community.
Dental Tribune International (DTI) spoke with Ravets just hours before the launch using video call technology that connected DTI’s editorial office in Leipzig in Germany with Dentaverse’s headquarters in Brussels. Popularised during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, streaming and video call platforms can only take connectivity to a certain point. Commenting on the immersive experience that Dentaverse offers—including through the use of VR headsets—Ravets said: “If we were meeting there, we would have eye contact and you could see and follow my gestures and body language, and I yours. It would be a completely different type of interaction.”
Let us take a step back and explain exactly what Dentaverse is. Popular community-based web tools—such as Instagram and LinkedIn—underpin the platform, and these are mixed with new Web3 technologies, like blockchain, metaverse and cryptocurrency payment, in order to create a virtual environment where users can interact with one another, attend and host events, and even present and learn about dental treatments and products.
Ravets says that, although Web3 technologies may not be widely used by dental practices currently, they will quickly become standard working tools. “Right now, it is similar to the late 1980s and the 1990s,” Ravets explained. “We were told that websites would become an essential tool for presenting your practice, to share information. And the same thing happened again around 2010 with social media when we were told that communication and networking would be reinvented. These technologies are now so commonplace that we cannot imagine working without them. It will be the same with technologies like digital assets and blockchain, simply because these technologies really allow people to do a lot of great things.”
The immense potential of virtual interaction
Ravets believes that connecting the global dental community will help to create a better future for dentistry, particularly given the immense potential of virtual interaction in the realms of connectivity and education. He explained: “What it means for dentists, for example, is that they can organise and attend workshops, thereby exchanging knowledge and experiences in real time. Imagine the following scenario: for a certain complex dental procedure, a dentist in Turkey could consult with an expert in South Korea in real time, simulate and practise the procedure, and learn the fine details of a specific technique, receiving feedback and direction from his or her peers.”
More broadly, the technology is well positioned to build a strong international dental community that includes dental students and clinicians and enables networking between the two groups. Ravets asked: “How exciting would it be for students to get acquainted with their future mentors or colleagues while still in university, to already secure an internship position through connections in the Dentaverse environment? Quite simply, it creates a place to connect, to grow and have fun, and to shape the dental industry of tomorrow together with like-minded individuals.”
Is the future of dental education and events already here?
Dental education and gatherings were largely shifted online in 2020 and 2021, owing to travel restrictions and lockdowns. This development increased the acceptance of online tools, and Ravets and his team are thus particularly excited about what Dentaverse could offer in these areas.
Here, solutions are being created in partnership with manufacturers, institutions and event organisers. Ravets explained: “We have a partnership with Saratoga and we have been working together for the past months, looking at how online dental education is today and how it could be improved. In addition to the manual work and physical classes at the university, cameras record what students do on the frasaco phantom head, and this is streamed. Student can rewatch these streams, and the use of this technology increased a lot during the pandemic. Using Dentaverse, a university can really know whether students have attended and listened to a virtual class, and it can allow students to do a lot of virtual test training. It is much more fun for the students and really is a totally different method in which students can connect with each other anytime. That is how we are approaching this, collaborating with the university to take streaming from 2D to a 3D communication tool.”
VR technology is also well suited to dental events, and the organisers of the AEEDC Dubai dental conference and exhibition in the UAE recently announced a new partnership with Dentaverse that “will break new ground in dental education, connectivity, and networking”. The meeting will take place from 7 to 9 February next year, and Dentaverse is organising a special event in the city’s Museum of the Future on the eve of the congress. There, dentists will have the chance to see and experience the platform, and Dentaverse ambassadors from around the world will be on-site at the Dubai event to offer live workshops, experiences and events relating to Dentaverse and virtual applications in the dental field.
“Dentists will be able to discover a unique experience at AEEDC Dubai 2023, connecting them with their community all over the globe,” said Ravets, adding that the Dentaverse ambassador group was already in the region, working on special projects that address topics such as a new dental care research center and the effectiveness of toothbrushing using the platform.
Developing Dentaverse has been a labour of love for Ravets—a young entrepreneur who feels equally at home in the dental and digital worlds. When it comes to innovation, he says that dentistry is on the cusp of great advancement. He explained: “Usually, growth and innovation in the dental industry occur mostly through the introduction of more ergonomic equipment or better treatment techniques. However, Dentaverse brings a fresh angle to dental collaboration and adds new tools for spreading dental education and creating an inclusive international community. Digital solutions bridge the gap between physical care and virtual care, enabling healthcare providers and educators to overcome the barriers of time and distance. For this reason, I consider Dentaverse to be an important milestone in the future of dentistry.”
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