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Susanne Schmidinger, director of global brand marketing enabling devices at Dentsply Sirona Digital Solutions Marketing, said that she is proud that the award supports female dental experts by giving them an international stage for their innovative ideas. (Image: Dentsply Sirona)

Interview: The Smart Integration Award honors the innovative spirit of women in dentistry

By Dentsply Sirona
April 20, 2021

Dentsply Sirona is committed to empowering women in dentistry. Its Smart Integration Award, being presented for the second time, celebrates visionary treatment concepts and ideas for the future submitted by female dental experts. The application phase for this year’s competition has already started. In this interview, Susanne Schmidinger, director of global brand marketing enabling devices at Dentsply Sirona Digital Solutions Marketing, speaks about the significance of the award, what is new this year and how dental professionals can enter.

Ms. Schmidinger, Dentsply Sirona’s Smart Integration Award was launched in 2019. How did it come into being?
The Smart Integration Award is designed to honor female dental professionals who have extraordinary success stories and innovative ideas. To find the best possible solutions for the digital workflows of dental practices, it is necessary for us to communicate with progressive dental professionals to find out how to optimize and connect the dental treatment process for more efficiency. How do they integrate patients’ needs into treatment? Dental professionals’ experiences help us to develop customized solutions for innovations in the future that meet our customers’ needs. This time around, we again want to work with creative and open-minded female thought leaders to come up with ideas on how to create a more efficient workflow.

What does the Smart Integration Award mean to you?
With the first competition, we were able not only to increase the proportion of female dentists in our growing dental professional network, but also to get to know their different perspectives, which is great. The Smart Integration Award honors the excellence and innovative spirit of women in dentistry. I was absolutely impressed by the first round in 2019: 24 success stories of excellent female dentists from seven countries—that was something very special. I am proud that with the award we can help give women a stage for their innovative ideas.

Dentsply Sirona is specifically targeting female dental professionals with the award. Why?
We always keep the needs of our customers in mind when developing our solutions and have recognized that more and more women are striving to qualify as dentists. Currently, in many countries, over 50% of people studying dentistry are women—and the trend is increasing. Behind this is a great creative potential that will have a weighty influence on the future of dentistry. The Smart Integration Award provides a platform for building a strong international network of female talent within the profession.

The online registration for the Dentsply Sirona 2021 Smart Innovation Award started on 12 April. (Image: Dentsply Sirona)

In the last Smart Integration Award competition, 24 participants from seven countries were honored for their ideas for treatment centers. How does Dentsply Sirona use these ideas in product development?
We see our customers as partners on the path to innovatively advancing digital dentistry. This makes it all the more important for us to incorporate their wishes, ideas and practical experiences into new solutions and technologies. We are very excited to see the new ideas from this year’s award.

What is different about the 2021 Smart Integration Award compared with the 2019 competition? What can the participants look forward to?
This year, we have significantly expanded the topics. Participants can now get involved in a wide range of specialist areas around the topic of smart integration. Digital workflows in the practice and patient communication are just as much a part of this as intelligent infection control and equipment management. The competition is thus spanning orthodontics, endodontics, restorative dentistry, imaging, implant dentistry and dental technology. Diagnostics and supporting technology, such as treatment centers, play an important role. We have also made the competition even more international. This year, for the first time, dentists and dental technicians from the US can also apply.

How can interested dental professionals apply for the 2021 Smart Integration Award, and what are the requirements? How much effort is needed?
Online registration opened on 12 April. We are inviting all female dental professionals to submit their ideas or their success stories on how workflow and patient experience can be made even better through connected products in the following categories: Imaging, Treatment Centers, Digital, Orthodontics, Endodontics, Dental Conservation, Dental Technology, Hygiene, Implantology, Equipment Management, Design and User Experience. The award is open to both practice owners and employed female dental professionals—regardless of whether they work in a general or specialist practice. Participants have complete freedom in designing their entries. They can submit their successful project or idea as photos, video, text or sketches.

Is there already a date for the award ceremony, and with COVID-19 in mind, is Dentsply Sirona planning a digital form of award presentation?
We will continue to monitor the pandemic situation globally and decide at a later stage which option is appropriate. We are flexible, and safety is our top priority. Of course, we would be happy if we could convene in person.

Men and women have different needs in terms of ways of working, working hours and work–life balance. In your opinion, to what extent is it important for a company like Dentsply Sirona to take this into account?
Our primary goal is to offer innovations that are highly relevant to the future of dentistry. We therefore work equally with female and male dental professionals and learn through this dialogue what their needs are in detail. The aim is to meet the dental professionals where they are with their expectations and to examine these expectations for their feasibility and transferability to the needs of our customers. This integration of different perspectives enables us to develop technological solutions holistically. In each case, we see different requirements in terms of ease of use, but the requirements for comfort and ergonomics are also different.

How is the future of oral health care supported by Dentsply Sirona’s technologies, science, clinical offerings or service?
We take a deliberately interdisciplinary approach, incorporating knowledge from the entire spectrum of dental solutions to inspire innovation. Clinical studies with universities are just as important to us as continuous knowledge exchange with dental practices worldwide.

Editorial note: Dentsply Sirona is inviting interested female dentists and dental technicians to submit their ideas and insights on designing efficient and comfortable workflows in dentistry for the Smart Integration Award until 28 June. More information on the award and how to apply can be found at dentsplysirona.com/en/smart-integration-award.

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