The 2014 Annual Meeting of the Academy of Osseointegration: “Real Problems, Real Solutions”

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AO President, Dr. Stephen L. Wheeler, DDS, shares thoughts on this year’s conference focusing on addressing patients’ emerging issues with older implants

Problems with root-form titanium implants are rare, so most of the science and literature available today doesn’t effectively address how to diagnose, treat, and prevent these issues.

These issues and many others surrounding decades-old implants will be the focus of the 29th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Osseointegration (AO) taking place from March 6-8 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. “Real Problems, Real Solutions” is the theme of the conference, which will also provide timely information on the most important research and innovations in the field to better prepare clinicians to offer patients implants for a lifetime.

This 2-1/2-day symposium starts with an impressive lineup of speakers in the Opening Symposium, including Jonathan Ferencz, DDS; Burton Langer, DMD; Torstem Jemt, DDS, PhD; Hom-Lay Wang, DDS, MSD, PhD; Stefan Renvert, DDS; and Frank Schwarz, DMD; who will offer practical and actionable insight into the techniques and technologies to correct implant problems and prevent future complications both surgically and restoratively.

The AO — which has more than 6,000 members from 70 countries — is a nexus where specialists and generalists come together to advance the vision of implant dentistry by sharing best practices and coordinating optimal patient care. This year’s programming reflects this global perspective like never before with the first-ever half-day international symposium dedicated to a single country: Japan. Highly regarded dental implant thought leaders from Japan will address a wide variety of topics with simultaneous Japanese-to-English and English-to-Japanese translation.

In addition to the educational symposia and exhibit hall attractions, the AO Annual Meeting President’s Reception will be a memorable event for attendees. Held at the Boeing Museum of Flight, one of the largest air and space museums in the world, the evening of celebration will include food stations displayed in various locations throughout the entire facility, as well as live entertainment.

AO President Stephen L. Wheeler, DDS, discussed this year’s Annual Meeting along with other issues facing dental implant practitioners in 2014 and beyond.

What are the most pressing issues leading to this year’s AO Annual Meeting?

Technology, market pressures, and patient demand will be major discussion topics for both speakers and attendees at this year’s AO Annual Meeting. Improvements in implant design and surface technology, along with digital prosthetic design and construction, have given us the potential to restore patients faster and more efficiently. These advances are not without risks. As more dentists are placing implants, we are seeing more complications, especially when dentists start working outside of their “comfort zone.” We all need to know what really works and what the potential risks are to hopefully prevent these problems from occurring. With a proper understanding (evidenced-based, not marketing), dentists can be better prepared not to succumb to patient demands or market pressures, and know better when to refer to specialists. I am a firm believer in 3D technology and treatment planning, but even this technology is not “bullet proof.” Many of the educational sessions during this year’s Annual Meeting delve into, or are completely devoted to, advances and opportunities around digital dentistry and 3D imaging technology. These advances in technology, when used properly, can lead to shorter treatment times, but we all have to be careful when confronted with increasingly aggressive marketing and a growing patient demand for these techniques.

How can dentists respond to this demand?

The simple answer is education and experience. This is where the AO is uniquely positioned. We are dedicated to providing evidenced-based education. We have had three international consensus conferences and have a fourth planned for this August to investigate scientifically what techniques and technologies are safe and predictable. Secondarily, we have experts with extensive experience from around the world present at our annual meeting. These are not “case studies”: these are overviews based on years of experience. To stay on top of implant dentistry takes more than the 25 hours of CME a year required by the Dental Board. A good place to supplement this education is at the AO Annual Meeting, which offers members and nonmembers an opportunity to take part in many educational symposia, networking, and social events. The meeting offers something for every attendee interested in gaining cutting-edge, evidence-based insights, and continuing education from the world’s most noted researchers and clinicians in the field.

What do you hope dentists take home with them after the meeting?

The “Real Problems, Real Solutions” theme of this year’s meeting is critically important to all dental implant practitioners — whether a specialist or general dentist, and whether they are actively placing and/or restoring dental implants or just getting started. Our opening symposium, “Strategies to Address Implant Retreatment — Dealing With the 25-Year Old Implant” will include presentations that address the unique circumstances surrounding retreating implants several years after initial placement. Topics will include crestal bone loss around titanium implants, peri-implantitis, the nature of complications and failures pertaining specifically to mature implants, and other high-interest talks by thought leaders in the field. The event concludes on Saturday with the forward-looking Closing Symposium theme, “Our Better Future,” where experts will present on current and advancing technology in managing teeth and implants, such as advances in biotechnology, digital dentistry, materials selection, and prosthetic design.

As implant dentistry has become a standard of care today, all professionals in the field will have to be able to competently address any issues that present to their practices, and treat or refer them as necessary. I am confident that the Annual Meeting will offer tremendous professional and personal value to the nearly 2,000 dentists attending this year. This momentum will build throughout the year as this dynamic community continues to work together, discovering the advancements that will carry us forward into the future, giving us the ability to provide more successful dental implant treatment and improve patient care.

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