The SureSmile clear aligner system offers advantages to dentists and patients, such as utilizing cloud-based software and requiring fewer clinical visits. (Image: Dentsply Sirona)
Interview: “Both patients and clinicians realize the great value of SureSmile”
As a clear aligner system that requires little to no refinement leveraging, SureSmile was a much-discussed topic at Dentsply Sirona’s recent DS World virtual conference. Dental Tribune International spoke with Dr. Terri Dolan, vice president and chief clinical officer at Dentsply Sirona, about the company’s move to increase manufacturing capacities for the system and the reasons behind it.
This year, Dentsply Sirona has increased production capacity for SureSmile. What were the reasons and objectives behind this?
SureSmile provides clinicians with a great aligner that is efficient and effective, that they can prescribe with confidence. The SureSmile software is easy to use. The treatment plans require little or no refinement as a result of the company’s 20 years of experience in orthodontics. The SureSmile workflow is easily integrated into any practice. The software is cloud-based and requires no local installation. The SureSmile Digital Lab accepts data from all common intraoral scanners. And integration is seamless with our Omnicam and Primescan—it couldn’t be easier.
Both patients and clinicians realize the great value of SureSmile and demand has grown significantly. We are increasing production capacity to meet this growing demand and serve our customers well.
Dr. Terri Dolan is vice president and chief clinical officer at Dentsply Sirona. (Image: Dentsply Sirona)
Clear aligners seem to be doing well in a number of markets. Can you tell me about Dentsply Sirona’s view regarding the uptake and acceptance of SureSmile by consumers and dentists?
As you said, aligners are growing around the world and so is SureSmile. Many consumers around the world want a clear aligner solution from a clinician and the category is growing rapidly. SureSmile is a great product and it is being requested in many markets. We are eager to meet the needs and demands of consumers and clinicians globally.
Our product brings precision, ease of use, control and flexibility to the clinician. All of this is backed by Dentsply Sirona—an industry leader that has been a partner to our customers for years by providing product solutions to help clinicians grow their practices. With the clinical expertise and technical skills of our SureSmile technicians in the SureSmile Digital Lab as well as in practice support, we can support clinicians through all phases of aligner treatments. This naturally contributes significantly to a high level of acceptance among clinicians. And SureSmile enables the dentist to provide a great service to patients seeking to improve their smiles.
SureSmile’s flexibility gives the clinician control over the process, whereas our open-source platform provides flexibility. SureSmile is integrated into the workflows of our other Dentsply Sirona digital products, scanners and imaging devices so there are no workarounds or compatibility questions. And our platform is open to other scanners and systems; there is no need for additional capital outlay or a change in process.
In what ways has the pandemic influenced orthodontic treatment, and do you think that the effects will be lasting?
The past weeks and months have shown us one thing above all: dental professionals around the world are skilled and knowledgeable about infection prevention in the dental office, and they are well equipped to protect patients. Dentistry is an essential component of overall well-being and health. Teeth don’t heal themselves—there is an inherent need for oral health care.
The dental profession is globally respected for its commitment to the prevention of oral diseases and to patient safety. Similarly, the profession is recognized for its willingness to adapt to challenging situations, including disease outbreaks, in order to support the public’s health and well-being. In dentistry, including in orthodontics, a variety of infection prevention measures are routinely used to mitigate risk as practitioners focus on the health and safety of their patients. In this respect, the dental world is well positioned to provide the safest and best oral care, even in the challenging times of a pandemic.
“[Our] platform is open to other scanners and systems; there is no need for additional capital outlay or a change in process”
SureSmile requires fewer clinical visits than other clear aligner systems. This is practical for dentists and patients, but what is Dentsply Sirona offering to dentists in terms of clinical education and clinical support?
At Dentsply Sirona we develop and provide clinical education across all key dental procedures including the provision of aligners. This education happens online and in person through Dentsply Sirona Academy and several educational partners.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have quickly moved to create a robust library of online education offerings. During the first half of 2020, more than 800,000 dental professionals, including almost 750,000 dentists, attended a clinical educational course, and almost all courses were offered virtually. In addition, the enrollment in on-demand courses rose dramatically as compared with 2019.
We provide great training to help our customers adopt SureSmile clear aligners and are always there for them. Learning material is also available through our e-learning platform on SureSmileU. There, clinicians can find many step-by-step instructions, videos, working guides and monthly live training sessions with experienced experts.
Has onboarding new dentists become easier, or more difficult since the pandemic began?
Back in spring, many practices temporarily stopped providing nonurgent care owing to government regulations enacted to help contain the pandemic. Many dental professionals used this time to participate in clinical education and to learn about the latest technologies. At Dentsply Sirona, we experienced a significant increase in demand for webinars and on-demand courses. We were pleased to have record-breaking attendance at DS World, held virtually in 2020, which concluded on Nov. 20. Although SureSmileU already had many great educational resources available virtually to onboard new dentists, we continued to leverage technology and expanded our virtual education programs to onboard dentists and the dental team to SureSmile aligners.
When it comes to larger capital investments such as scanners during the pandemic, have dental service organizations (DSOs) reduced their spending in the same proportions that dentist-owned clinics have?
DSOs and independent clinics are focused on providing great patient care while growing their businesses and practices. The COVID-19 disruption caused many practices to pause investment in technologies early in the pandemic. But as dental offices resumed providing routine dental care, dental offices have begun to invest in technology to help grow their businesses in areas such as aligners. Investing in a Primescan scanner that is fully integrated with SureSmile allows practices to move into digital dentistry and get a good return on their investment quickly.
Thanks for this interview, Dr. Dolan.