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Transforming dental care for children: Insights from Align Technology’s Middle East events

Align Technology, Inc. - Middle East

Markus Sebastian, Senior Vice President EEMA at Align Technology. (Image: Align Technology)
Dental Tribune Middle East

Dental Tribune Middle East

Tue. 9 July 2024


Dental Tribune MEA recently had an opportunity to speak with Markus Sebastian, Senior Vice President EEMA at Align Technology, to discuss the company’s innovative efforts in pediatric orthodontics. In the interview, Sebastian delves into the Growing Patient Roadshow taking place across the Middle East, the importance of tailored dental care for children and teenagers, and the latest advancements in digital dentistry that are transforming treatment experiences and outcomes for younger patients.

Align Technology recently hosted its Growing Patient Roadshow across the Middle East, with further events to come later this year - can you tell us more about the events and what attendees can expect to take away from the sessions?

The Align Growing Patient Roadshow is a series of events that take place throughout the year across the Middle East, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Dubai. The idea behind this series is to bring doctors together from all over the region along with international Invisalign speakers to delve deep into the topic of treating ‘growing patients’ (children and teenagers) and discuss the many nuances and considerations that set these patients apart from adults. It has been designed as a four-stage series, guiding doctors through the journey of building their confidence in treating growing patients, accelerating their growing patient practice using Align Digital workflows, enhancing clinical outcomes for growing patient cases, and finally, mastering growing patient treatments. We recently held the second installment which saw over 200 Invisalign providers attend and engage with guest speakers, gaining a deeper understanding of practical applications and integrating the most efficient workflows into their practice. We’re already looking forward to the next installment in September, with the series concluding in December this year with guest speaker Dr.Sandra Tai.

Why are growing patients a key focal area for Align Technology, and what are the main considerations for this demographic when delivering dental care?

The orthodontic treatment of growing patients is important for children’s overall health and well-being and to help avoid more complex dental problems in the future, and yet this can be an area of treatment met with uncertainty from both practitioners and parents. Our recent whitepaper research showed under 19’s make up a significant portion of the population in the region, 39% in KSA and 30% in UAE, demonstrating the importance of opening up conversation channels around orthodontic treatment for younger patients and extending education to our providers that empowers them to approach each clear aligner treatment confidently and seamlessly. Through our recent white paper research and events like the Growing Patient Roadshow, we aim to elevate the level of dental care for children in the Middle East while also encouraging parents to become an integral part of the process and really understand the benefits and challenges that can be expected on a treatment journey. When personalizing a treatment plan for younger patients using the Invisalign® System, we’re able to prioritize their comfort, daily oral hygiene, and confidence without sacrificing their lifestyle, hobbies, and eating habits. 

Can you share some of the innovations that enhance the treatment experience and outcome for growing patients and how these can be implemented into practices?

There are a number of innovations already integrated into the treatment journey that can have a positive impact on the patient's experience and the practice workflow. Some of the treatment innovations are designed specifically for younger patients, such as Invisalign First ™ clear aligners, which address a range of orthodontic issues in younger children, such as arch development and dental expansion. Invisalign First aligners are tailored to accommodate the unique dental needs of children, providing effective early intervention and encouraging long-term dental health. Our other innovations can enhance the treatment experience of younger patients while also being used across adult patient treatment plans – creating further efficiency and a more streamlined practice workflow for practitioners. The iTero™ intraoral scanner, for example, allows for precise, real-time 3D digital scans, negating the need for uncomfortable impressions. This system is fully integrated with our Align™ Digital Platform. Finally, the My Invisalign™ app has been designed to help practices support patients in every step of their Invisalign journey, from making the decision to start treatment to switching to their last aligner in treatment. The user-friendly interface helps engage younger patients and maintain their motivation throughout the duration of treatment. 

As digital dentistry evolves, especially in the Middle East, how do you envision the wider adoption of new innovations and techniques into practices looking to digitize their workflow?

The widespread adoption of digital dentistry, tech-based tools, and upgraded techniques hinges on several factors. The region is seeing an increasing awareness and willingness among dental professionals as the benefits observed in practice efficiency and clinical outcomes are being acknowledged. Systems that are able to be seamlessly integrated, like the Align Digital Platform and tools such as the iTero intraoral scanner, can facilitate this acceptance through the efficiency and precision they offer. Education and training are also crucial components of this transition, which is why we place such a strong emphasis on providing continuous and accessible knowledge through events, be it through our masterclasses, roadshows, and webinars, to equip dental professionals with the knowledge and practical application of years of research.

Considering the integral role of orthodontists in interceptive orthodontics for growing patients, how does Align Technology ensure that its evolving technologies continue to support and enhance the expertise of these professionals rather than replace it? 

Through the development of dental innovations and our continued work to enhance digital dentistry across the Middle East, our aim is really to support and enhance the expertise of orthodontists rather than replace their skills with technology. Our innovations, such as the Invisalign System and iTero scanners, are designed to augment practitioners' skills. We focus on providing tools that improve diagnostic accuracy, treatment planning, and patient outcomes, enabling professionals to deliver superior care and run a more efficient dental practice. Prioritizing comprehensive training and education ensures dental professionals are proficient in using our technologies, empowering practitioners to integrate these innovations seamlessly into their practice, ultimately enhancing their expertise and maintaining their pivotal role in patient care.

With many families planning to travel over the summer, how can they ensure that their child's Invisalign treatment is not affected by being away from their orthodontists over the school holiday/summer period?

Peak travel season for Middle East-based families doesn’t have to mean a pause in any ongoing orthodontic treatment. Before traveling, parents can schedule a check-up with the orthodontist to receive any necessary aligner adjustments or new sets for the travel duration. Many Invisalign providers in the region offer virtual consultations and check-ins, which help ensure the treatment plan remains on track if it’s an extensive period of travel. Using the My Invisalign app can also help track progress, schedule reminders to move onto a new set of aligners, upload progress images, and stay in touch with the orthodontist.

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