Esthetic Dentistry Leaders Expand the Interdisciplinary Approach
Esthetic dentistry has developed far beyond the idea of a cosmetically pleasing smile, as evidenced by the membership and educational pursuits of the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry (AAED). “Our members connect, plan, and strive to improve our clinical focus—doing whatever we can in the mainstream of dentistry to improve oral health from a scientific as well as esthetic realm,” says president-elect Richard D. Roblee, DDS, MS.
Founded in 1975, the AAED was established “to promote the integration of dental esthetics into the total spectrum of oral health care and provide a leadership role for the profession by defining the highest interdisciplinary clinical, scientific, artistic, and ethical standards through research, publications, and educational presentations.”
The major forum for the AAED is its annual educational session. This year, the 41st Annual Meeting was held August 3-5 at the Monarch Beach Resort hotel in Dana Point, California. Intensive educational sessions explored the theme of “Point Counterpoint: The Controversies & Innovations in Esthetic Dentistry,” including 1) Vertical Placement of Dental Implants: How Deep is Deep Enough; 2) Treatment of the Posterior Mandible: Short Implants or Vertical Tissue Augmentation; 3) Restorative Contour and Submergence Profile Concepts: Flat or Full; 4) The Relationship between Platform Switching and Initial Marginal Bone Stability; and 5) Etiology and Treatment of Non-Carious Cervical Lesions. In addition, individual presentations focused on high-level procedures representing the total spectrum of oral healthcare through the esthetic context. Social and networking opportunities included the President’s Reception, a special evening celebrating the organization’s past presidents, honoring AAED history, and honoring Peter Dawson, DDS, founder of The Dawson Academy, for his contributions to the field of dentistry.
Reflecting on the diversity of the program, Roblee explains, “It’s about incorporating art and science to do what we can as health professionals to improve patient quality of life. The true name of esthetics—not cosmetics—is dealing with underlying problems and health issues, and doing it from such a high level interdisciplinary approach that these patients look amazing at the same time. In other areas, the goal of ‘esthetics’ is only covering up problems, but we’re going in and fixing them for the overall well-being of our patients.”
Because membership in the AAED is only by invitation and limited, sharing their insights and discoveries with a wider range of oral healthcare professionals is an extremely important goal for the academy. “Many of our members are out there in the dental circuit, and that’s part of how we reach people,” Roblee says. “We’re practicing it, teaching it, and writing the scientific articles and books.”
However, now that the Academy is into its 41st year, they’re looking to expand their reach in the future. “We’ve always been about a high-level interdisciplinary approach, rather than simply esthetics,” Roblee says. “So, we’re going to start promoting that aspect, moving it into the forefront, and working more closely with different specialty groups to be a conduit for the interdisciplinary approach.”
A major part of that initiative is the 2017 education session in San Diego, which is going to diverge from the usual format to an interdisciplinary session with more open registration. Usually, in an effort to enhance fellowship and professional growth, guest registration for the annual session has been held to an approximate ratio of two guests for every one member in attendance.
“What we hope to do with this interdisciplinary meeting is bring leaders from all of the different specialties in for an outstanding program,” Roblee explains. “These experts all do specialty type programs with other disciplines, but we’re hoping to take it several steps further in the esthetic area. There’s no question that historically the AAED members have made a giant impact on the way esthetic dentistry is interpreted around the world, and we’ll continue to do that. But moving forward, we’re going to try to do the same for the interdisciplinary approach, with prosthodontics, orthodontics, periodontics, endodontics, pediatrics—and a few others that aren’t quite as focused on esthetics but we’re hoping they will become involved.”
The AAED members are also increasing efforts to bring in the next generation. “With all the changes going on, such as corporate dentistry, our concern is who is going to be the next Pete Dawson, John Kois, or Frank Spear,” Roblee explains. They are working to find young dentists early on and mentor them into leadership roles in esthetic and interdisciplinary dentistry. “This is a great group, with leaders who want to make a difference. If there are younger people who are interested in getting a jump-start into the future, they should contact us or one of the members they may know and become involved. That’s a very important part of our academy going forward; they can make a big difference.”