Dental Tribune Middle East
Dentsply Sirona – Middle East

Clinical education is key to us – providing dental professionals with essential knowledge

By Dr. Dobrina Mollova, DTMEA
January 02, 2020

DUBAI, UAE: Dental Tribune MEA had the pleasure to interview Don Casey, CEO of Dentsply Sirona and Walter Petersohn, CCO of Dentsply Sirona during their visit to Dubai recently.

The interview took place at the beautiful Dentsply Sirona office in Business Bay which is equipped fully to provide outstanding training to dental professionals from around the Middle East region.

Dr. Mollova - DTMEA: A warm welcome to the Middle East. Is this your first-time visiting Dubai, particularly the Dentsply Sirona Office – Middle East?

Don Casey: Yes, this is my first visit to Dubai. The Dentsply Sirona office here is beautiful, showcasing our products and offering outstanding training facilities to our customers. We really appreciate the partnership that we have with CAPP in terms of focusing on clinical education. It is a team effort to help dental professionals practice with new equipment in new ways.

Dr. Mollova: I was a witness to the opening of the first ever Sirona showroom office opening in Dubai, 10 years ago. Remembering Dr. Amro Adel, your General Manager for the MENA region, working countless hours, from making everything himself even the design and it was excellent. I am a witness of this long successful journey and to reach the success with Sirona here, now Dentsply Sirona, what is your first impression of the Dentsply Sirona Middle East office?

Don Casey: The office is gorgeous and highly well-staffed, with the right equipment and great space. I would say this is one of our best training facilities in the world. Walter Petersohn and I travel constantly, and I would put this office among the best.

Dr. Mollova: In February 2016, Dentsply and Sirona merged resulting in the largest dental manufacturing company in the world in dental products and technology. Currently the company has 15,000 employees so how have you managed to keep the company consistently strong in terms of strategy and culture? This question is in particular regarding the Middle East due to its multi-cultural environment, religions and most importantly crucial parties having different educational backgrounds.

Don Casey: When trying to integrate companies, whether it is a homogenous market, like North America or a multicultural environment, like the Middle East, you have to start with a single goal: the customer. At Dentsply Sirona, we are all unified around the idea that if we focus on helping the half million dental professionals around the world and improve their practices, that’s what will create a united culture. Whether you are Egyptian, German or American, our goal is to help dentists deliver better oral care and smiles to their patients. That is what we do.

Dr. Mollova: The education here in the Middle East is the challenge especially due to the different educational backgrounds coming with different approaches from different countries. This is very challenging, but I am certain we can manage well in the Middle East in terms of education.

Don Casey: Clinical education is key to us. Providing dental professionals with essential knowledge is one of our main goals. One of the conversations we’ve had with Dr. Amro Adel was this region has done an exceptional job because of great partnerships, like we have with you, in focusing on clinical and lab education. We have to consider that we need to do things differently in Saudi Arabia compared to Egypt or Morocco. For example, how we teach Class II restoration or digital dentistry, when dealing with different backgrounds and the complexity of each region.

Dr. Mollova: How important is the Middle East dental market to Dentsply Sirona? And for which reasons?

Walter Petersohn: Super important. This isn’t an easy market, but it is a growth market. Growth markets attract us. Over the last five years we’ve learned a lot, and with Dr. Amro’s help, we have put together a magnificent team and all the building blocks to accelerate growth. Compared to Europe or the U.S., there are different aspects in this market, and you need a leadership team that is aware of these elements. The formulation for success involves local partnerships, local involvement of trainers, customers and key opinion leaders. All that combined with a good portion of focus is really the basis for growth. The Middle East is complex, and a lot of countries fear the region, but we have a long history in the region and expertise. We have many people with over 20 years’ experience on our team, so we know how to grow the business, to build it, accelerate it, and we are excited. This is why we continue to invest in facilities here, and why we continue to grow the team and increasingly invest in clinical education.

Dr. Mollova: Which product line do you feel is best represented in the Middle East region and which ranges still require more awareness? What are some of the solutions dental professional can expect in the Middle East in the future?

Walter Petersohn: First, it is important to understand that people know our brand. It is known through our presence, our innovation and how we remain active in certain segments and fields. Clearly, everything that is digital, combining procedures into digital workflows, aligners, implants, restorative materials and the endo solution process, have become very popular. Our task is to make sure we stay with our strongholds and accelerate in these areas, and we continue to support dental professionals with our innovations, both in the product and the procedure level, so they can be successful and help patients smile. Again, this means focus. Countries vary, hurdles vary, it is multidimensional but a big opportunity.

Dr. Mollova: How far ahead down the years do you plan when it comes to innovation planning and introducing novelties in the Middle East? What is your forecast and vision?

Don Casey: You will understand some we cannot talk about. We want to emphasise a number of different businesses, but I think Walter Petersohn said it very well: we believe digital is the future. Whether that is the evolution of 2D to 3D, the migration with CAD/CAM, chairside dentistry or Primescan, it’s a substantial digital business. But there is also Orthodontics and the Implants business too. When we look at the region, our Endodontic business plays an important role. This is an area where we have a lot of history and tenure. We went from hand files to digital, to reciprocating files. And the Middle East has played an important role in the growth and will continue to be a great emphasis here. In our mind, we look at different blocks of innovation, and digital will be one. We believe that we are at the beginning of what we think endodontics will be like over the next decade. We’re also excited about our implant business, which traditionally has not been a focus in the Middle East. But with someone like Dr. Amro, who has been making investment decisions in the region, we’re changing our direction and structure. Working closely with our customers in the region, he’s able to inform us on what should be our focus. From our point of view, the implants business will be good opportunity over the long-term. At Dentsply Sirona, we used to think we have 10 digital businesses that all had to move at the exact same speed. But we’ve learned that it makes more sense combining separate businesses to sensible product solutions and then sell the solution outside the box.

Dr. Mollova: I am very excited about the advancements of digital dentistry and the digital workflow and with your new scanning system it can keep the data of the patient even after 10-20 years from now. We can see how important it is starting from the patient’s treatment plan to the production, to the scanning and diagnostic.

Don Casey: I remember we talked about this at Dentsply Sirona World in Las Vegas last year. We are not sure where digital dentistry will lead us. Imagine if you had an impression of a patient’s mouth, and you as a dentist could tell them that their teeth will get worse and years later it really does. I think the opportunity to show patients a coherent long-term treatment plan over several years is very important. I am excited about the early stages of digital dentistry. Who knows where we will be in five years? I don’t think we have figured it out yet.

Dr. Mollova: It is good because we can keep data of the patient, even in investigations, accidents, we will not search for the papers in the clinic. It’s just digital. What is the process of education at Dentsply Sirona starting from the product innovation down to educating the dental professional, dental technician, dental hygienist, dental assistant, even now, dental managers - the full circle?

Walter Petersohn: As you mentioned, it is a multi-element process. The one thing we can clearly state: the more, the better, the deeper we educate and train, the more awareness about the product, the procedure and the solution we generate. This is why we invest in facilities like in Dubai, with training and lecture rooms, and not just here in Dubai, but in all major cities. As you may know, we have two big centres in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Bensheim, Germany, and we are constantly expanding our dental academy facilities because we realise this is the future. Given all the geographical diversity here in the Middle East but also the challenges--i.e., people from country A cannot easily travel to country B-- we think increasing investments and activities in webinars can be a solution. The local team can train customers in India and in Morocco simultaneously, so training can be highly digital in the future for sure.

Dr. Mollova: We have a very huge platform with Dental Tribune International Study Club, recently opening our Middle East platform as well. We also produce a lot of webinars and its really working. Minimum number of delegates attending in our region is usually between 400 - 800 dental professionals. These are new customers, usually not only from our database but from the region who are interested in education. It will be good in the future to process more webinars.

Walter Petersohn: We always try to tailor our activities to the country and partner with institutions from other countries. Some countries are already advanced, so we try to team up with institutions and create partnerships whenever it makes sense. This creates a win-win situation and the purpose of both organisations can overlap to combine forces.

Dr. Mollova: This is the international platform. These webinars are going to our 139 publishers in the world. From China to the States. States is a big partner. Middle East is the second largest after the United States.

Don Casey: As you think about your platform, and it’s a conversation we had today, we really heard a lot of buzz from Russia. I would love to see the development and recognition of more local KOLs. As we do webinars, let’s not make them the same way, with the same guys who always do them. I think people are doing great dentistry all over the world. One of the things I’d like for Dentsply Sirona to do is make our webinars and our dental education to reflect the style and culture of countries around the world, including local voices and faces. Two days ago, we were in the office in Moscow and the technique and work were probably better than anything I have ever seen. I would love the world to learn best practices from all over the globe. There’s not just one centre. The power sits in localising activities. We reduced the regional responsibilities to have our leaders be more engaged and involved with our customers, dealer partners and staff. The same is true for training. The more you can get local leaders involved in training and education, same country, same language, the faster you can convince local customers of the quality of products.

Dr. Mollova: How important are the dental dealers in Middle East for Dentsply Sirona International.?

Walter Petersohn: They’re very important, also because of the geographic diversity. There’s no way we would ever be able to cover this gigantic region without the help of the dealers. But that means we also have to train the dealers on our products so they can train the dental professionals. We usually bring together all the dealers, that’s what we do during our so-called Dealer days. One of the challenges, depending on the region, is how we can help them with credit. Economically, it’s a challenge when dealing with different parts of the world, and different economical situations and so on. Ultimately, every day starts with us asking, how do we help our customers - and the dealers are a critical way for us to help.

Dr. Mollova: Do you have anything else to say to Dental Tribune Middle East readers?

Don Casey: First, we’re excited about your presence and the excitement of all your readers in the field of dentistry. We want your readers in the region to know that we mean it very serious. This is why we believe in a local footprint and local staff. As you know, we are not just in Dubai, we have our teams all over the Middle East and North Africa region. This is a significant commitment! By putting the focus on the right areas and growing education, all of our customers and dental professionals around the region will see that, which will translate into new partnerships.

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