It's all go with aligners in Cologne

From November 23rd-24th, 2012, the 2nd Scientific Conference to be held by the German Association for Aligner Orthodontics e.V. (DGAO) took place in Cologne.

Carnival season may be a highlight in Cologne's annual calendar, but on the last weekend in November, the main attraction for more than 450 guests invited by the German Association for Aligner Orthodontics (DGAO) was the 2nd DGAO Scientific Conference, held in Cologne in the venerable location of the Gürzenich assembly rooms.

Rather than hosting one of Cologne's infamous Carnival sessions, the Gürzenich assembly rooms on this occasion provided a perfect and elegant backdrop for the largest specialist orthodontic event in Europe that is not tied to a particular manufacturer and that dedicates two days exclusively to the field of aligner therapy. As part of the comprehensive programme, 32 internationally-renowned speakers and a total of 19 exhibitors from manufacturing industry ensured that clinical practitioners as well as colleagues involved in scientific research were presented with the latest developments in aligner orthodontics.

Following the official welcome from DGAO Vice President Dr. Boris Sonnenberg, the pre-conference meeting began with a look at the topic of aligner invoicing, presented by Heike Herrmann, a renowned invoicing specialist from Cologne. This was followed by a presentation by Michael Zach, a solicitor from Monchengladbach, who discussed the legal aspects of current GOZ provisions (German legislation regulating charges for privately-insured dental treatment), particularly with regard to aligner treatments.

Sufficiently rejuvenated by the welcome buffet arranged by the main sponsor Align Technology, participants were ready for the opening of the scientific programme by the Conference President Dr. Julia Haubrich, who welcomed the first speaker, who was also DGAO President Dr. Rainer-Reginald Miethke (professor emeritus) from Doha, Qatar. In his presentation, Professor Miethke posed the question “Aesthetics – what exactly does this mean?”, proposing after a very comprehensively illustrated and entertaining lecture that “aesthetics are defined by the patient – the orthodontist can provide cautious advice”.

For the second presentation “Science in Every Smile”, Mr. John Morton, Director of Research at Align Technology, travelled all the way from San José, California. He explained the considerable technological effort required during development as well as the biomechanical functionality of the SmartForce™ attachments used in the latest G3/G4 version of the Invisalign® system.

Scientific studies of tooth movement and related root resorption in the context of varying levels of force as applied during aligner therapy were presented in detail by Professor Gernot Göz from Tubingen. The speakers Professor Christoph Bourauel, Mareike Simon and Ludger Keilig also reported on findings from their Cologne-Bonn working group on complex studies of the efficiency of tooth movement using Invisalign®. The provisional, biomechanical and clinical studies are currently unparalleled in this comprehensive form, with the result that this research group together with Dr. Jörg Schwarze was awarded a research prize of €14,000 by the German Association for Aligner Orthodontics e.V. (DGAO) in recognition of science in the field of aligner therapy and in order to provide particular support in this regard.

In his presentation, Dr. Marco Tribò, an orthodontist from Zurich, Switzerland, looked at the use of aligners in resolving reconstructive issues. The clinical tips provided by Dr. Schwarze, whose presentation explored new indications for proximal contact point reduction, were also aimed at practitioners.

Dr. Wajeeh Khan from Hamm used impressive clinical examples to demonstrate the general limits of aligner therapy using his orthocaps® system, placing particular emphasis on the benefits of using soft aligner material. In his presentation on early myofunctional treatment in children, Niels Hulsink from the Netherlands also discussed soft elastomers. A very clear contribution on the enhanced treatment possibilities offered by aligners thanks to mini-implant-supported appliances was provided by associate professor Dr. habil. Benedikt Wilmes from the University of Dusseldorf.

The auditorium was then treated to a joint presentation by Professor TeaWeon Kim from Seoul, Korea and Dr. Nils Stucki from Bern, Switzerland, in which numerous fascinating clinical cases were used to demonstrate the wide range of indications supported by the new eCligner® 3D digital system, which, thanks to its fit, can completely dispense with the use of attachments.

In contrast, in his clinical presentation on influencing the vertical dimension using Invisalign®, Dr. Thomas Drechsler from Wiesbaden clearly illustrated the importance of customised attachments, particularly those of the newly-developed SmartForceTM generation. Meanwhile in his presentation, Dr. Werner Schupp from Cologne emphasised the significance of static and dynamic occlusion in orthodontics.

In just over 15 minutes, and using one case study selected from each year, Dr. Boris Sonnenberg from Stuttgart was able to provide an overview of his 10 years of experience in Invisalign® treatments. The approach favoured by Dr. Julia Haubrich from Cologne of combining the Carrière Distalizer in Invisalign® therapy also attracted considerable interest.

In addition, the benefits of numerous other aligner systems such as the CA® CLEAR-ALIGNER or the eClear mtm® aligner system were demonstrated by Dr. Knut Thedens from Bremen / Dr. Roland Jonkman from the Netherlands. Indefatigable as ever, Professor Rolf Hinz from Herne also insisted on personally presenting the interesting idea of developing a screw-activated aligner.

Two scientific studies on apical root resorption and resolving anterior crowding presented by Dr. Elena Krieger from the University of Mainz, and evidence-based guidelines for three further studies of Invisalign® treatments proposed by Professor Alexander Vardimon from Tel Aviv, Israel, completed the scientific part of the conference.

This event, which was considered a tremendous success by participants, concluded with absorbing presentations by Dr. Gernot Heine and Jörg Forsbach from their “bracket-free” practice in Wedemark near Hanover, and by Dr. Jürgen Wahlmann and Dr. Stephan Höfer, dental surgeons who believe that in the context of dentistry, no-prep veneers and dental bleaching provide the perfect complement to aligner therapy.

Accordingly, the organisers and participants are already looking forward to the next DGAO conference in November 2014, which will be held once again in Cologne.

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