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SAAO meeting breaks new ground

SAAO meeting breaks new ground

Getting some 150 delegates, a mix of academics and private practitioners together to host the very organised Inaugural Congress of the Southern African Association of Osseointegration (SAAO) was nothing short of a miracle, observed SAAO president, Dr Louwrens ‘Blackie’ Swart.

That the Association pulled it off was thanks in large part to partner, UWC’s Faculty of Dentistry, which hosted the Congress at its Tygerberg Hospital facilities from 24-26 October 2014. The Faculty clearly went the extra mile, noted Swart, as was evident from the widespread praise from both the traders and delegates. “This is but a small start to our future cooperation,” said Louwrens.

Thanks to the collaboration – the Faculty and the Association have signed a Memorandum of Understanding – the SAAO managed to draw researchers and practitioners from across South Africa, Asia and Europe to the Congress, all working at the cutting edge of dental implantology. Getting this particular collection of delegates together under one roof was something of a first for the country.

“This meeting here today is very, very unique,” said Swart, also a maxillo-facial and oral surgeon at Louis Leipoldt Medical Centre.

The focus of this landmark gathering, titled Current and Future Visions in Implantology, was on technical developments in osseointegration, which explores the interaction between dental implants and living bone and tissue. Talks and a series of hands-on workshops covered topics such as diagnosis, emerging technologies, the design and aesthetics of implants, and treatment strategies and complications. A highlight of the Congress was a debate around the use of dental implants versus endodontic treatment, ie whether it’s best to fix rather than remove and replace problem teeth.

The focus on the technical aspects of osseointegration was by design, explained Dr Mogammad Peck, a member of SAAO and a researcher with UWC. “The idea was to increase the knowledge of general dentists, both from an academic and a clinical point of view,” said Peck.

It’s also a milestone in the partnership between the Faculty of Dentistry and SAAO.

As a result of their association with UWC, private practitioners get to develop their field and expertise. In return, they build goodwill with academia and students through their teaching and an annual Dental Implant Day, which practitioners have hosted for the past five years as a means to pass on their expertise to final-year dentistry students. “The practitioners’ only reward is the sense of satisfaction obtained from making a positive contribution,” said Swart.

“It’s a very good symbiotic system,” noted Professor Lawrence Stephen, chairperson of the Diagnostics Cluster at UWC, of the partnership.

It’s the budding collaboration between practitioners and academia that faculty members want to develop, Professor Mohamed Parker, deputy dean of Academic and Student Affairs, told delegates. “I always say that we are on one end of the spectrum, which is the academic side,” said Parker, “but what actually happens at the coalface is more important.”