Rapidly converging technologies: A recap of IDS 2019

Advances in virtual reality software are creating opportunities for training dentists.
Advances in virtual reality software are creating opportunities for training dentists.
Photo courtesy Koelnmesse / IDS Cologne

The International dental show (IDS), held every two years in Cologne, Germany, is a bellwether for the dental industry, and the 2019 installment was no exception. I was fortunate to attend with two industry influencers in their own right: Dental Economics Chief Editor Chris Salierno, DDS, and columnist Howard Glazer, DDS. Together we parsed out a few key trends for practicing dentists in the coming years.

“The age of the scan is here” 

Intraoral scanners and 3-D printers made their debuts at past shows, but their prominence at IDS 2019 was undeniable. Dr. Glazer observed, “I think what I’m learning from coming to this show—and from having been here before—is that the age of the scan is here. 3-D printers are going to be here. Interestingly, the mill in the office may disappear and go to milling centers. But I’m excited about the scanning, and I’m excited about restoratives, and there are some great new hygiene products coming out . . . all of this will encourage better oral health.”

Dr. Salierno concurred. “There’s a battle on Facebook pages and Instagram about whether impressions or scanning is better. I agree with Dr. Glazer in that scanning is moving away from being an exotic product that techie dentists have, to becoming a wonderful way for providing care to patients and opening up new possibilities. The speed is increasing, the accuracy is increasing, and we’re actually seeing manufacturers add additional features like caries detection, which is very interesting.”

“And prices are coming down,” added Dr. Glazer.

Rapidly converging technologies

One US-based company we followed at IDS was Carestream Dental, which debuted its powerful CS 9600 imaging unit. I talked with Edward Shellard, DDS, Carestream Dental’s chief dental officer, about the important trends at the show. “We have reached a point with different elements of technology, where in combining those together you get such an expanded view of the oral cavity. You have a great view of the hard tissue. You have a great view of the soft tissue. Whether it’s with aligners, sleep apnea devices, or implants, you have so much more information than you ever had before. You can get consistent results and you can get great patient outcomes. But just as importantly, even lesser experienced dentists can get those same results. So you can elevate the performance of the profession to levels it’s never been able to experience before.”

Global health of dentistry

With record-setting attendance numbers of 160,000 attendees from 166 countries, along with 2,327 exhibitors from 64 countries, you can bet that IDS—and the health of the global dental industry—are as good as ever.

Editor’s note: Responses edited for clarity.

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