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How dentistry shows itself a digital pioneer at IDS

Mark Stephen Pace proudly tells the latest advancements for IDS 2019 (Photograph: VDDI)


Mon. 11. March 2019


Ahead of IDS 2019, OEMUS MEDIA spoke with Mark Stephen Pace, Chairman of the Board of the Association of the German Dental Industry (VDDI), about dentistry and the show now and in the future.

Mr Pace, the advancements made in digital dentistry in recent years are quite exciting—from guided surgery to digital workflows and CAD/CAM prosthetic solutions, just to name a few. For that reason, it is not surprising that digitalisation is going to be a big part of this year’s IDS again. Apart from that, what other trends are going to shape the course of the mega event in Cologne?
Today, digital technologies have infiltrated virtually every part of our daily life and, naturally, that also includes dentistry. More than that, dentistry can be considered a digital pioneer. Your question touches on a number of important areas. When it comes to computer-guided implantology, digital pre-planning of surgical procedures has become a widely established standard over the past couple of years. With the help of a surgical guide, the surgeon drills open the bone at the right spot and at the right angle. Interestingly, this same principle is also gaining increasing importance in root canal therapy at the moment. As a consequence, treatment outcomes are becoming more predictable and consequently more successful. Treated teeth can be maintained significantly longer. However, if a tooth needs to be extracted at some point in the future, it can be replaced with an implant—using guided surgery, in turn.

In the field of prosthetics, digital workflows are already well established in both the dental practice and the dental laboratory. The manufacturing of a crown, bridge or other dental technical work is normally done through the subtractive processing of a blank made of ceramic or metal. Additive manufacturing, which has become synonymous with the term “3-D printing”, could provide dentistry with additional and new possibilities. Moreover, this mode of manufacturing has been common in the field of metal processing for many years now and, thus, we are already quite familiar with it. With this type of manufacturing, crowns and bridges can be created from cobalt–chromium alloys by means of laser technology. At this year’s IDS, we can look forward to new 3-D printers for processing synthetic materials. Today, it is also possible to print dental models and splints. However, we can expect further advancements in the near future in terms of provisional and, probably, definitive restorations. Class IIa synthetic materials are needed for that, meaning materials that can remain in the oral cavity for a period longer than 30 days. Such materials are already available on the market.

In order to live up to its reputation as the world’s leading dental trade fair, one could argue that IDS needs to change, develop and reinvent itself every once in a while. This year, an additional hall has been integrated into the planning of the fair. What is the reason for that? And what other changes have been made, compared with previous years?
Throughout recent years, there have always been changes, improvements and measures to significantly elevate the quality of stay for exhibitors and visitors to the fair alike. Being a leading international trade fair, IDS naturally attracts a great many visitors, which is why adequate space is needed. Of course, we are looking forward to full halls. However, too densely packed crowds, accompanied by pushing and shoving, needs to be avoided at all costs. That is why we have extended the space for IDS 2019, by including the entire Hall 5 for the first time ever. In Hall 5, many exhibitors in the field of consumer healthcare, who had previously exhibited in Hall 11.3, are going to showcase their products. The number of visitors has increased so dramatically over the past years that the hallways have reached their full capacity. In Hall 5, there is enough space available for everyone. Having an entire new hall makes it possible to channel visitors to the fair through four different entrances to the grounds. Moreover, it allows for smooth and even access to the grounds—even at peak times. The circular path around the exhibition grounds allows for an even distribution of the visitors to the fair.

When talking about IDS novelties, one needs to mention the new Koelnmesse car park. Our partner, Koelnmesse, has brought the new car park at the zoo bridge into service. Immediately alongside the fairgrounds, it makes a total of 3,300 additional parking places available (in two connected areas). The car park comprises five floors and features a multifunctional logistics facility for both cars and trucks. During the construction and dismantling phases, the logistics site on the ground level will allow for the processing of several hundred trucks each day, thus, optimising traffic flow during peak times. There will be a customs clearance office in the new logistics centre, and this will make the completion of formalities easier for our international exhibitors.

As hosts of the entire dental industry, our overriding aim is to support each and every visitor to IDS in reaching his or her particular personal goals. It is this very Olympic principle of equal access that has made IDS the world’s leading dental fair. “Leading” is the core concept of brand IDS and summarises the significance and important role of IDS for our exhibitors and visitors. We will continue to deliver on performance and our value proposition now and in the future. Both the board of directors and advisory board of the VDDI have agreed on pursuing the ongoing development of the IDS as the leading dental fair. This means that we adhere to well established factors, but, at the same time, are open to the new and unknown—as long as it serves the success of IDS and its participants. That is why we are always keen on integrating new components into the already proven concept of IDS. Let your self be surprised!

If you were to make a prediction, where do you think dentistry is headed in terms of future developments? Considering the ongoing digitisation of the field and the advancements made in computer-assisted procedures and robotics, is it safe to say that the “human dentist” has an expiry date?
Since its beginnings, general medicine has been, and continues to be, characterised by personal, individual doctor–patient relationships. In modern dentistry in particular, we often encounter an interplay between dentist, dental technician and patient. It is hard to imagine a patient turning for help to exclusively digital assistance systems and robots. However, one has to admit that online research has proven to be an important and effective tool for obtaining information nowadays. When it comes to rare diseases, it is not uncommon today for a patient to become an expert himself or herself, with a better in-depth knowledge of his or her disease than his or her family doctor has. Yet, things are a little different with dentistry. The primary conditions continue to be caries and periodontitis, and the dental team remains the most competent professionals to turn to. When it comes to prophylactic and therapeutic approaches that deal directly with the oral cavity, tactile sensitivity is still a necessity. From all that I have seen so far and all that I know at this point, robots are just not capable of delivering that. That is the reason the dentist and his or her assisting team will not be replaced by robots any time soon. Admittedly, we already know of promising approaches in other fields of expertise. For instance, a robot that drills a tunnel into the petrosal of the inner ear could turn out to be helpful in prospective therapies for tumours of the inner ear. It is thus perfectly possible that, in the distant future, a dental team will be assisted by a robot carrying out individual and well standardised steps. How exactly that will be realised, however, remains in the realm of speculation—at least for now.