Interview: “Attendees will have a great choice of different sessions”
The 28th Annual Scientific Meeting of the European Association for Osseointegration (EAO) is taking place in Lisbon in Portugal from 26 to 28 September. Though the event will last for three days, planning and preparation for the meeting dates back to more than a year and a half ago, according to Dr Gil Alcoforado, this year’s congress chair. Dental Tribune International spoke with him about his involvement with the EAO, the amount of work that went into organising this year’s congress, and what is in store for those making the trip to Lisbon.
Dr Alcoforado, could you please provide a little background on your history with the EAO?
I have been a member of the EAO for many years because I’ve always thought it is the association which best represents implant dentistry—not just in Europe but worldwide as well. A few months after I finished my commitment of many years as a member of the board of the European Federation of Periodontology, I was invited by several EAO board members to stand for election, and in October 2016, I became a member of the EAO board.
I very quickly realised the potential for growth in this organisation. The fantastic atmosphere and friendliness that I have encountered in serving on the board has motivated me to better serve our members. After a brainstorming session—something we do annually—the idea arose to create a series of master clinician courses. It was the first and biggest assignment that I carried out by myself as an EAO board member. For several years, I created and organised the first ten master clinician courses, which proved to be extremely successful. Later on, I filled the vacancy of the Chair of the EAO Education Committee—a role that I still occupy.
What has the timeline for organising this year’s congress been? When did preparations for the scientific programme begin?
When the board decided on Lisbon as the venue for this year’s congress, I had to start preparing the scientific programme immediately. To do so, I enlisted the help of all the members of the EAO Scientific Committee. After one and a half years of hard work and careful deliberation, the preliminary programme was presented to the EAO board and eventually approved. Our choice of speakers was based on specific criteria: for example, the speakers were required to put forward topics relevant to our conception of implant dentistry.
Have preparations for the 2019 EAO congress concluded at this point?
Now, we are in the later stages of revisiting every single aspect of the meeting to make sure that absolutely nothing has been overlooked. Judging by the current statistics, it seems we will have around 3,200–3,500 participants, which is an excellent number. I sincerely hope that attendees will enjoy the presentations, the city of Lisbon and the social part of the programme, where they will have a great opportunity to meet up with many of their friends and colleagues.
What can attendees expect from this year’s EAO congress?
Attendees will have a great choice of different sessions with plenty of renowned speakers from all over the world scheduled to present. They will see the latest innovations in implant dentistry and will, in particular, have the opportunity to see how experts overcome clinical challenges that may present difficulties for the majority of clinicians.
The scientific programme of the 2019 EAO congress was built around questions that many clinicians ask themselves when treating patients. Some of the answers to these questions, to be fair, are not yet in the domain of evidence-based dentistry. However, owing to the development of clinical procedures, these problems exist and clinicians want to know how to solve them. Some of the sessions will thus highlight a means of addressing a number of these problems and will have different experts demonstrating how they themselves manage these difficult clinical situations.
The theme of this year’s congress is “The bridge to the future”—the future of implant dentistry, that is. How does the scientific programme reflect this theme?
Broadly speaking, several bridges will be crossed: from analogue to digital, from surgical to microsurgical, and from the staged implant protocol to the immediate placement and loading of implants. These are just some of the areas in which bridges will be crossed by both speakers as well as attendees.
The EAO congress is known as an event that typically features the latest developments in implantology and periodontics. Are there any particular developments in these fields that you are aiming to highlight at this year’s congress?
One of the things to have heavily impacted the dental field over last five years has been the advancement of digital technology, which has made inroads into dentistry in many different areas. In the beginning, digital procedures commenced in the dental lab. Nowadays, it is possible to conduct complete rehabilitation digitally from the beginning. From diagnosis and planning to fully guided surgery and even the construction of final restorations—all of these steps can be achieved with the use of digital tools.
With this progression in technology, many obstacles have been surpassed and difficulties overcome. The definition of precision has changed dramatically in the transition from an analogue environment to a digital one. Enormous advancements in intra-oral scanning over the past couple of years have taken place, allowing this technique to now be used in crown and bridge planning, for orthodontic and periodontal reasons, and for impression-taking prior to implant procedures, to name just a few of its many applications. The connection between the clinic and the dental lab is much closer now owing to the optimisation of the digital workflow. The connection between intra-oral scanners, milling machines and 3D printing, for example, is getting better every year. The general feeling that I’ve experienced is that this could be just the beginning of a huge paradigm shift.
However, the evolution has been happening in all different aspects of dentistry. For example, new microsurgery techniques have been introduced, which have led to the development of micro-instruments that are adapted for those specific techniques. There are also new grafting materials that simplify some surgical procedures, and research is being performed regarding the use of stem cells, which may eventually be the base for a substitute for dental implants at some point in the future. These developments, I’m happy to say, will be in the spotlight at the 2019 EAO congress.