Key Stone

09 December, 2010 / Infocus

It’s not every day a European congress filled with world-class speakers arrives on your door step, and for oral surgeon Paul Stone the four-day event marked the culmination of three year’s hard work.

As the scientific chairman and president-elect, the Perthshire specialist had plenty on his plate but he still found time during the European Association for Osseointegration’s (EAO) 19th Annual Scientific Congress to speak to Scottish Dental magazine.

The EAO Congress, at Glasgow’s SECC, saw more than 3,000 clinicians from around the world come together to see presentations from an educational faculty of more than 40 world-class speakers and session chairmen. After so many years of preparation and collaboration with other members of the scientific committee, Paul admitted that his over-riding emotion was one of relief now that the event had finally arrived.

He said: “I guess I am relieved that people seem to be enjoying the event. Delegates have to spend a lot of money getting here, taking time out of their practices, travelling long distances and staying in hotels. So I do worry about letting people down, as there is a great deal of trust that the EAO will provide a world-class congress, but I am pleased to say that everyone I have spoken to seems to be very positive.”

The congress saw the EAO take over three halls in the SECC, accommodating the trade exhibition and meeting rooms as well as the Clyde Auditorium, which was the venue for the plenary sessions.

After welcoming delegates to the congress, Paul co-chaired the first session, entitled ‘Aesthetics: Clinical guidelines’, with Professor Daniel Buser from Switzerland. Paul said: “Daniel Buser is probably one of the most respected implant surgeons in the world and I found it quite intimidating sharing a platform with someone who is this well-known, but I have to say he was a delight to work with.”

And, the following day Paul, wearing his wife’s family tartan, addressed the whole delegate audience at the ‘Congress Ceremony’. He introduced delegates to their host country, speaking about the geography, culture and history of Scotland, with special mention of the medical and scientific breakthroughs and developments that made Scotland famous.

“I really wanted people to come to this congress and have no doubt that they were in Scotland,” he said. “This is very important to me as I am only too aware that many clinicians travel the world attending different conferences and meetings. However, most see little more of the host country than the airport, taxi cab, hotel and conference centre.

“It was my hope that by promoting Scotland to such a large audience, I would be able to stimulate interest in the delegates to return and explore this country more than they might otherwise have done.”

Paul, who qualified from Liverpool Dental School in 1985, explained that he also had a personal reason for promoting his adopted country to the attending delegates. He said: “I moved up to Scotland over 22 years ago for a six-month job and I have never left. Although I’m English, anybody will tell you how patriotic I am of Scotland and with a Scottish father-in-law and two equally patriotic Scottish sons, it is easy to see why I should be so loyal to a country that has looked after me so well.”

And Paul’s belief in Scotland is not just restricted to its history and traditions; he believes that Scottish implant clinicians are doing the country proud. He said: “Scotland is a small country with a small number of cities but we have a really high standard of care. At the moment though, we don’t seem to have enough of these high calibre clinicians to meet the demand that we see on a day-to-day basis.

“However, what we don’t want is large numbers of dentists entering the discipline without adequate training, as this will only damage the good reputation that has been created.”

The theme of the Glasgow congress was ‘Clinical Controversies in Implant Dentistry’ and, as Paul explained: “The problem is that many clinicians don’t know what they don’t know and therefore they often practice in isolation relying heavily on the information they are given by dental companies.”

Paul continued: “The EAO’s philosophy is one of ‘bridging the gap between science and clinical practice’ and this is particularly relevant to today’s clinicians. The idea of this congress is that world-respected clinicians and researchers present on a specific topic, each being asked to review the relevant scientific literature and relate this to every day clinical practice. My aim as scientific chairman was that every delegate would return home with practical, evidence-based information that they could apply to their clinical practise.

“I have no intention of patronising any dentist who attends such a meeting but many of us find that some of the complex research papers published in the implant journals are quite difficult to fully understand and often even harder to relate to every day practise. It’s the responsibility of the presenter to attempt to demystify some of the controversies we have in implant dentistry and to present the evidence for or against the various options available.

“It is my strong impression from the presentations I have seen that many of the faculty of speakers are concerned with how quickly many clinicians try to carry out the various stages of an implant-based treatment plan. The message seems to very clearly suggest that more predictable results could be more often obtained if a little more time was taken to ensure that each stage was carried out correctly.

“There seemed genuine concern that where this was not the case, patients could end up significantly worse off than when they had started treatment. It was clear from some of the presentations that the science does not always support what some of the companies are telling clinicians to do.

“The EAO board is very aware of this situation and certainly I was very keen to gather together a group of speakers and moderators, who would ensure that this message was conveyed in an appropriate way.”

Paul, who took over the presidency of the EAO at the end of the conference from Professor Christoph Hämmerle from Switzerland, finished by saying: “Not that long ago, it would be common to see different meetings attended by either the scientists or the dental practitioners and we would see one group presenting ‘evidence’ while the other presented ‘opinion’.

“This is not the situation with EAO congresses and I hope that during my two years as president, I will ensure that this philosophy continues. For me it is very important that wherever possible, all clinical practise is based on sound scientific evidence.

“It is all about taking the science and making it clinically relevant and trying to give colleagues real perspective as to how they might treat their patients.”

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