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Interview: “Our plan is to make this congress a memorable event, both scientifically and socially”

Dr Youssef Sedky, Prof Dimitris Strakas, Priv -Doz Dr rer medic René Franzen and Leon Vanweersch (from left to right).
Dental Tribune Middle East

By Dental Tribune Middle East

Fri. 25 March 2022

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Dental Tribune had a chance to speak to the organisers of the 18th ISLD Congress in Cairo and find out more about its mission and challenges and how they are adapted.

Could you tell us in brief about the International Society for Laser Dentistry (ISLD) and World Academy for Laser Education and Research in Dentistry (WALED) please? What are their missions, and how are they connected?

Leon Vanweersch: ISLD is a global dental organisation that promotes professional excellence in the use of lasers through scientific research and education. ISLD strives to enrich the knowledge of its members and to elevate scientific research, practice and teaching to their highest levels and to disseminate this knowledge throughout the world in order to improve dental healthcare standards. Among other goals of ISLD, the society is motivated to cultivate international professional relationships and cooperation with scientific organisations in other fields of dentistry and with universities in the fields of laser research and development. ISLD serves its members as a non-profit organisation. The society encourages membership by dentists and scientists who are interested in research on, the teaching of and the clinical use of laser technology in dentistry, biology, surgery and other areas of medicine. ISLD was established in 1988 and is the oldest and largest international dental laser society.

WALED is the alumni club and academic and educational worldwide network of the mastership and MSc programmes in the field of lasers in dentistry of Aachen Dental Laser Center (AALZ). WALED’s vision is the realisation of an academy of excellence for postgraduate education and research in laser dentistry. We strive to offer lifelong learning opportunities for our members.

Since many alumni of AALZ programmes are also members of ISLD and several of us also serve on the board of ISLD, it is logical to support our members by, for example, organising our WALED event at the same time and location as the ISLD world congress so that our members only have to travel once. Prof Dimitris Strakas and I are members of the ISLD organisation board, Dimitris is the general secretary of ISLD and a scientific director of AALZ, I am also director of WALED, and Dr Youssef Sedky is chairman of the ISLD congress this year, as well as an academic co-worker at AALZ. So we are all three very much involved in both organisations.

ISLD World Congress 2018 in Aachen, Germany

Could you share the greatest challenges you have encountered in organising the 18th ISLD Laser Dentistry World Congress (ISLD Cairo 2022) given the ongoing COVID-19 situation all over the world coupled with the recent passing of Prof. Norbert Gutknecht?

Dr Youssef Sedky: The pandemic has been our toughest and largest challenge. Our congress was scheduled for October 2020. Just seven months before the congress and after our enormous efforts and planning, suddenly the whole world went into lockdown. It was a time of uncertainty, and making solid plans was impossible. During these already difficult times, the sudden loss of our beloved Prof. Gutknecht was a devastating shock to us all, as he was not only our society president but also a mentor and a dear friend.

How has ISLD Cairo 2022 adapted to these challenges?

Dr Sedky: After the world went into lockdown, a crisis management committee was set up to monitor the global and local situation regarding vaccination, travel regulations and any restrictions. Our goal was to assure our speakers, sponsors and attendees that the congress would be held at a later date, once the pandemic was under control. We managed to stay in contact with everyone through our social media platforms, and with the support of AALZ, we also participated in a series of webinar sessions. This was crowned by an online symposium honouring the memoirs of Prof. Gutknecht. Thanks to our team’s huge efforts and to the confidence and patience of our keynote speakers and sponsors, we were finally able to fix the new dates of our congress: 26–28 May 2022.

What can ISLD Cairo 2022 participants expect from this year’s congress?

Dr Sedky: After a long wait, this is the first ISLD world congress since 2019. Our plan is to make this congress a memorable event, both scientifically and socially, boasting more than 30 keynote speakers, covering the various fields of dentistry, and more than 20 exhibitors presenting state-of-the-art technologies. Our congress will host dentists from more than 25 countries in Egypt, where the congress will be held in a historic palace hotel overlooking the Nile, and our participants will enjoy different social events.

What speaker line-up can the attendees expect this year?

Prof Dimitris Strakas: In keeping with the high scientific standards we set for our world congresses, the line-up of speakers is impressive. Clinicians and academics from all around the world will present their research and clinical findings in oral presentations and poster sessions. The number of contributors is around 100, and their countries of origin exceed 30. We have structured our programme carefully in order to have specific topics in each session, making it easier for participants to attend all lectures on a specific topic if they wish. Endodontics, periodontics, cariology, paediatric dentistry, photo-biomodulation, orthodontics, oral pathology, implantology, aesthetics, prosthodontics, soft-tissue management and basic science are going to be covered by our speakers.

Could you share with us some of the new trends in laser dentistry that we can expect to see at ISLD Cairo 2022?

Prof Strakas: It is fascinating for all of us who are in this field to see the evolution of dental laser devices, especially in the last two decades. We are proud that, through our biennial world congresses, our members stay in direct and regular contact with the newest developments, which so many dental laser manufacturers offer to us.

This May, our world congress participants in Cairo will experience a wide palette of wavelengths, devices and brands. There will be new multi-wavelength devices, new handpieces, new photo-biomodulation devices and new magnification options for laser dentists and much more. Moreover, the scientific programme will cover many new discoveries in both theory and clinical practice, which means that participants who attend those lectures will be able to implement those new protocols in their daily treatments immediately.

Could you tell us a bit more about the touching initiative, the Professor Norbert Gutknecht Research Award, that will be launched during the event.

Prof Strakas: As we all know, Prof. Gutknecht was a true pioneer in the field of laser dentistry. His research laid the foundation for today’s laser dentistry research. After his death, the executive board of ISLD decided that the best way to honour his memory would be to support a young researcher in the field of laser dentistry and thus we established something important and unique: the Professor Norbert Gutknecht Research Award, which will offer €1,000 to a young researcher in the field, starting from ISLD Cairo 2022. All those interested in participating can find the research proposal instructions on our website, www.isldlaser.com, and send their application and a short CV to us by email, info@isldlaser.com. ISLD, as the largest laser dentistry society worldwide, hopes that this initiative will be followed and supported in the future by many laser dentistry manufacturers and in that way that the research award will be a beautiful reminder of the love that Prof. Gutknecht had not only for laser dentistry but also for the science behind it.

What do you personally expect from ISLD Cairo 2022

Dr Sedky: I have more of a mix of hopes and expectations. I hope that we will execute a successful congress, which we expect a large number of people to attend after a long wait, and I hope that they’ll enjoy and benefit from this congress and return home with unforgettable memories. I expect our society to grow in members and affiliations and hope that we can spread dental laser knowledge to reach everyone. I hope that we can prove to ourselves that we are able to continue the hard work of our late beloved Prof. Gutknecht and make everyone proud to be part of this legacy, and I expect that we will be able to carry out his vision.

WALED Congress 2015 Berlin, Germany

What do you personally expect from WALED 2022?

Vanweersch: I personally expect that our WALED family will be very eager to meet again and to celebrate being together again, not only for the scientific part of the congress but also for the social events and for the friendship we have together. Knowing that a lot of people are afraid of travelling because of the ongoing pandemic and the war in Ukraine, I would like to strongly encourage everybody to participate in this congress, because it is really time to meet again! Besides, it’s going to be great fun to experience laser dentistry in the form of a real knowledge quiz with our quiz masters, Dimitris and Dr Rene Franzen, and there’ll be a real WALED CUP to be won! I hope of course that I will see many of our alumni at both congresses!

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