Connections: Dentsply Sirona World 2022 in Las Vegas and into the future

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Connections: Dentsply Sirona World 2022 in Las Vegas and into the future

Swen Deussen, vice president of marketing for digital platforms and solutions at DS (Photograph: Dentsply Sirona)
Dr Dobrina Mollova, Dental Tribune MEA

By Dr Dobrina Mollova, Dental Tribune MEA

Thu. 20 October 2022

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From 15 to 17 September, Dentsply Sirona (DS) World 2022 took place in Las Vegas in the US. Thousands of dental professionals attend this premier annual education event, called the “Ultimate Experience in Digital Dentistry”. During this year’s show, Dental Tribune Middle East spoke with Swen Deussen, vice president of marketing for digital platforms and solutions at DS, about the company’s digital offering and how it is helping dentists and discussed the hot topics of 3D printing and sustainability, as well as the past and future of digital dentistry.

Can you share your satisfaction with what DS is achieving with this event?

Just the fact that we can meet with our customers, friends and partners face to face is amazing. COVID put a lot of restrictions on all of us personally and from a business perspective. Our customers had a lot of challenges that they had to face, because SARS-CoV-2 is airborne. I remember a dentist telling me that the patient didn’t want to take off his mask. How do you treat someone who doesn’t want do that? So the fact that we are able to bring everybody back is making for such a different experience, to be face to face, to see body language, to talk to customers, to have the chance to grab a coffee or grab a drink. That is really, really nice. Also we have the opportunity to show our products and our portfolio to our customers live. We sell hardware and consumables but also software, and this is really a great opportunity to demonstrate how it works. Personally, I’m very happy and excited because we launched quite a few new products this year in May and we’re showcasing those. I think that this is really the opportunity of DS World: being able to connect a lot of people and getting customers’ feedback.

Now we are at the right place and right time to talk about digital dentistry and new innovations. Some of the digital solutions from DS are on display. On 3 May, DS announced its launch of the open platform DS Core, developed in collaboration with Google Cloud. Can you tell us more about this?

In discussing our future software development, we looked into how we as consumers are using software today. We talked to a lot of customers, asking them what it is that they need us to improve. I think two things stood out the most. The first was simplification of the user interface. Consider, for example, that CEREC employs one software program and Essix another. Each has to be installed, maintained and updated, something that nobody really likes. The way we simplified our software for customers was by bringing it into the cloud and making it browser-based and connecting everything, because then everything is in one place. The second thing was the ability to share data with colleagues, peers and labs.

This customer feedback was really the driver for us to bring our ecosystem into the cloud, because it’s very secure, despite a lot of rumours that the cloud is not secure. That’s one of the reasons why we chose Google Cloud, because it’s the most secure platform. DS Core is also compliant with EU and US data protection laws, which is really important. A lot of customers share data through iMessage, WeTransfer and OneDrive, for example. These are secure platforms from a personal point of view but not for medical data.

DS World delegates can also explore the other components of DS Core: DS Core Create and DS Core Care. Could you tell us more?

In developing the software platform, we considered customer feedback that, while they love our technology, it’s really difficult and time-consuming to learn how to use the software and technology. Today, a work–life balance is more and more important, so not everybody is willing to spend weekend after weekend in training courses. Clinical education and integration are really important. We want our customers to focus on becoming better clinicians. That’s why we decided when we developed Primeprint not only to do it as a hardware product, but also to have the DS Core Create service, making it very simple for the clinician: he or she uploads a scan and can then task someone else with doing the design. This allows the clinician to use the technology without having to be a pro in design. This means that he or she can implement the technology right away and can start treating patients and, in parallel, will become better and better at using the software, which comes back to our simplicity factor.

We created DS Core Care based on extensive customer research. Customers are buying expensive equipment from us, so the lifetime of that equipment is important and that requires that we offer better product services to our customers to make sure that they can make the most of their DS products and have peace of mind. DS Core Care also provides information on how often the machine is being used, device health and those kinds of things, enabling a lot of possibilities through connectivity.

DS Core makes it much easier for the dentist, making data access easy, facilitating communication with all members of the dental team, avoiding the need for a service technician.

You’ve said exactly what we’re trying to convey to our customers: to make their daily work easier and simpler. A dentist’s job is so complex. He or she also has to be the CEO of the practice, has to be a salesperson, has to be a psychologist for his or her patients, has to be a trainer for his or her staff, has to be a tax accountant. This all reduces the time spent with the patient. Everything we’re doing is so that the dentist can focus on what matters most, and that is treating the patient. That’s why we developed DS Core. DS Core is in my opinion the easiest way to share a file with a colleague.

Connecting everybody with each other, simplifying dentistry and really helping customers to focus on their patient because that is what matters most.

DS Core is integrated with Primeprint Solution, the next step in 3D printing. Could you tell us more about that

3D printing is the new cool kid on the block in dentistry. We call it Primeprint Solution because it’s two units, the printer and the post-processing unit. The printer uses digital light processing. The cool thing is the post-processing unit. Our products always come down to simplicity. With Primeprint Solution, the user doesn’t have to manually wash the printed appliance. It has a closed cartridge system that has a radio-frequency identification chip for automatic printing, identifying and pouring only as much resin as is needed to print the appliance. The user then puts the appliance into a processing unit, avoiding exposure to fumes. It’s super safe, and it produces reports for quality purposes.

Primeprint is not just a printer. It’s a full solution. It really integrates well into the practice and together with DS Core Create really allows customers to gain the maximum benefit from the product right away. We have shown a lot of customers what the system will do for them: in using the product, they are barely involved because the hygienist does the scan, somebody else takes care of the design and the assistant does the print job. The dentist mainly deals with the patient. This is the efficiency factor for the dentist, allowing him or her to spend the time with the patient rather than with the technology. This is really what the dentist is looking for!

These days, sustainability is a major concern. Let’s talk about the by-products of Primeprint Solution in this regard.

Yes, and sustainability is a really important topic for us, as is personal health. I think that we as a corporation have a responsibility to do more regarding sustainability.

The resin is contained in the cartridge and used until the cartridge is empty and then that cartridge should be recycled. It’s a recyclable product, but obviously the user has to make sure that it’s recycled properly and not thrown into the general garbage. The isopropanol too must be properly disposed of, not thrown into the garbage. This is a standard procedure in medicine and requires some familiarity. Proper disposal is the responsibility of the user.

There’s always a balance we need to achieve. For example, for endodontics, we produce single-use and single-packaged products because they have to be sterile for the safety of the patient. Unfortunately, that means packaging, but a lot of the packaging that we use overall is made of recycled material.

DS World is a good time to recognise 37 years of experience with CEREC, pioneered by Prof. W. Mörmann and Dr M. Brandestini. On 19 September 1985, the first CEREC chairside treatment took place at the University of Zurich’s dental school. Hats off to the pioneers and their enthusiasm and passion! What a journey!

The funny thing is that I am the same age as CEREC, being born in the year it was developed. I turned 30 when CEREC turned 30.

I think that CEREC is part of our DNA and our heritage as a company. We have developed Primeprint, Primemill and Primescan, but I think that we can take CEREC even further while remaining true to our mission.

How do you see the future for dental digitalisation? DS seems to have achieved the pinnacle already. Are more innovations possible? Is there a limit?

There’s so much more potential for digital dentistry. If you look at the history of CEREC, we have somewhat paved the way for digitalisation. There’s only so much you can do on hardware. Yes, you can have better or more cameras, for example, but there is a physical limit at a certain point. Hardware is really important. A good camera, a good CBCT unit, a good dental chair, a good drill, a good implant—we don’t have to debate it. Quality is really important, especially for products used and placed into patients. The differentiation is really the software, so there’s a lot of room to grow when it comes to digital products.

Regarding software solutions, ten years ago, nobody would’ve thought about artificial intelligence-assisted diagnostics. Today that’s a really interesting field, and we haven’t even explored 10% of what AI and machine learning can do in terms of optimisation of processes. My personal opinion, considering the strategy of the company, is that most of our innovation will be on the software side.

Could you say some more about digital diagnostics?

X-ray technology hasn’t changed in 130 years. An X-ray tube is still an X-ray tube. We can optimise regarding reduced radiation, but the physical technology is still the same. Keeping in mind a work–life balance and our customers’ desire for simplicity, the possibility of AI-supported diagnostics in radiography or assistance from someone else is a huge opportunity for the whole industry to grow into a much more digital industry than it is today.

Let’s talk about the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a time when digital dentistry proved the importance of digitalisation in light of fewer visits to clinics, reduced face-to-face communication with dental laboratories and more. DS even increased its sales of digital products in this time.

COVID had a huge impact on all of us, personally and in terms of business. We as a company also had to adapt. Everybody was in the office one day and the next everybody was sitting at home. How did we solve the problem of connectivity? We used Microsoft Teams, for example, which is a digital software solution for connecting people. Dentists really had to step up their game. Many of the labs that we work with stopped dealing with physical impressions in order to avoid contamination, rather choosing to work with dentists who used intra-oral cameras. COVID forced digital dentistry to evolve quicker than it probably would have done otherwise, but of course not for a good reason, considering the consequences of the disease and the pandemic.

We talked to a lot of customers who told us that the reason that they still had a practice was because they had an intra-oral camera and could do work digitally and work with their lab remotely. I think that we’ve also seen a mind shift in customers regarding the need to invest in digital technology because in the future it will allow them to be much more flexible in the way they work. For example, with DS Core, the dentist can access the data from anywhere, allowing him or her to work from home if necessary—that is the benefit of digitalisation—and our customers love it!

DS World offers the best in clinical and business education as well as incredible entertainment. Why is entertainment important for your communication with dental professionals?

Because we are human beings; we can’t only work. We need to have excellent educational content to make sure that attendees go home with more information and maybe challenge themselves to grow as a human being. I personally love to be challenged. I love to learn. I love to grow. But we also need to balance this clinical education with time to relax a little bit, to talk to colleagues and peers, to grab a drink together in the evening. It’s not just about business; dentistry is not just about business. Business is important, but ultimately dentists want to treat patients, to take care of people. The human factor in dentistry is what’s really important for us as a company.

What is the event’s message to dental professionals?

Connections—connecting dentists with their patients, connecting us with our dentists, connecting dentists with their labs and their specialists. All the solutions and the products that we deliver are focused on that. Connecting everybody with each other, simplifying dentistry and really helping customers to focus on their patient because that is what matters most. That is really the message that I think this whole event and DS are really focusing on.

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