The 37th Australian Dental Congress 2017 was held in Melbourne from the 17th to 21st May.

The Congress was able to attract a range of people, including dental prosthetists, practice managers, dental assistants, dental hygienists, and therapists. The Congress also including a Lunch and Learn and workshop segments.

The Congress gives dentists, dental practitioners and their staff from Australia and international locations the opportunity to discuss science, clinical practice and the profession and business of dentistry. The Congress has been a regular event for the dentistry profession since 1907. It gives the chance for dentists to not only enhance their knowledge, but also network with colleagues and contribute to the advancement of the profession of dentistry.

The Congress includes a range of speakers from a range of disciplines, including:

  • Orthodontics
  • Cosmetic dentistry
  • Digital dentistry
  • Dentures
  • TMD (jaw pain)
  • Restorative
  • Implant dentistry

While there was a diverse range of speakers, they all shared one important thing – the ability to share their extensive knowledge with others in an informative manner.

Keynote speakers came from the UK, Canada and USA, and included:

  • Dr John Besford: Dr Besford has a 50+ year career which has seen him care for people who are missing a large number of teeth.
  • Dr Andrew Dawood: a Specialists in Periodontics and Prosthodontics, who is primarily involved with Implant Dentistry.
  • Dr Anil Kishen: a Full Professor of Endodontics at the University of Toronto, and has been published in over 200 peer-reviewed publications
  • Dr Ken Malament: a Fellow of the American College of Prosthodontists, and active in numerous dental organisations, including International College of Prosthodontists and American Academy of Fixed Prosthodontics.

A key part of this year’s Congress was the The Pierre Fauchard Academy (PFA)/ADA National Emerging Young Lecturer Competition. The competition presents five ADA Branch-nominated clinicians who give a 15-minute presentation. This is a great opportunity for the young contestants to showcase their clinical skills.

The Congress’ speakers were able to give updates on current research. There were numerous important take home messages from the Congress, such as:

Root canals and crowns

If you have recently had a root canal treatment, it is strongly recommended the tooth receive a crown within three months. Leaving the tooth for longer increases the likelihood of issues that may lead to tooth loss by three times.

Digital dentistry has seen significant advancements in recent years. This has allowed for same day crowns – where crowns are prepared and inserted on the same day. However, it is still challenging to achieve great results for highly-aesthetic cases, which would be better treated with the help of a dental technician.

Physical properties of aesthetic crown materials such as emax (porcelain) are now improved. This factor, as well as improvements in crown cements, means aesthetic crowns are able to be used more reliably and predictably in bonding procedures.


Fractures and cracks in teeth are far more common than previously estimated. Around seven percent of non-treated teeth have pre-existing cracks.

Orthodontic treatment

Despite advancements in other areas, there are still no shortcuts to orthodontic tooth movement. Speeding up treatment time may cause unwanted side effects such as root resorption. For those suffering from orthodontic tooth movement, it is strongly recommended patients undergo comprehensive orthodontic treatment. This is the better option than selectively treating certain issues within an accelerated timeframe.

Furthermore, there is also a lack of evidence existing for the benefits of early orthodontic intervention. Because there is no proof about the effectiveness of early intervention, in many cases orthodontic treatment needs to be delayed until late childhood. This means further growth can occur and be completed prior to discussing treatment options.


Bulk fillers are now available for more widespread use, which can help to speed up treatment time for large fillings.

There is also a new lining technique with flowable resin. This technique shows increased bonding strength in fillings. It can be used to help reduce post-op sensitivity in patients.

Other treatments and conditions

There were also findings in other areas. Findings included:

  • Oil pulling may actually result in the patient developing pneumonia
  • Interdental brushes are more effective than floss for preventing and controlling gum disease. However, floss is more effective for preventing dental cavities.
  • Jaw clicking is something that is very common to experience. It is often pain-free and rarely progresses to dysfunction. As a result of this, it is not necessary to seek treatment unless the condition becomes debilitating.
  • If you are suffering from TMD, it is important to start with conservative treatment methods such as night guard splint, physio and stress management. Only once these options have been explored should more invasive options such as botox and surgery be considered.

The next Australian Dental Congress will be taking place in 2019. As part as my continued professional development I look forward to attending the next Congress.

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