Academic, relevant and controversial

Dr Sean Malone explains what makes the RCSI Dental Faculty’s Annual Scientific Meeting special and what attendees can expect to gain from the 2015 event

There are three things that set the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland’s (RCSI) Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) apart, according to the event’s programme committee chairman, Dr Sean Malone.

He said: “The ASM has three aims in general – to be academically strong, to be relevant to general practice and, finally, we always like to have a bit of controversy as well.”

The 2015 meeting will take place on Thursday 29 and Friday 30 October at the RCSI headquarters in Dublin with the theme ‘New Horizons in Dental Practice’.

As a former president of the Irish Dental Association (IDA), Dr Malone has plenty of experience organising the scientific programme for a major event, having been tasked with organising the association’s conference during his term in charge (2013/2014). A board member at the RCSI for the last 10 years, he was then tasked with chairing the new programme committee two years ago when John Walsh took over as dean of the dental faculty.

New horizons

Along with his fellow committee members, Edward Cotter and Billy Davis, along with additional input from Gerry Cleary, Kieran Daly and the dean, John Walsh, himself, Dr Malone explained that the aim of the ASM is to come up with a theme that is primarily relevant to general practice.

He said: “Once you have the theme, you have to look about and see what is topical. There are some things that are fashionable if you like and, when you are looking at speakers, you want to make sure they are as up to date as possible and do your research on their current interests, for example.

“It is very important to be up to date and, as such, I read all the journals and also try and get to two or three international meetings during the year, to try and get a flavour of what is topical. These meetings are a great opportunity to scout out who are the good speakers, who are the entertaining speakers, that sort of thing.”

For this year’s meeting, Dr Malone believes that, as well as a great all-round line-up of speakers from Ireland, the UK and Europe, as well as America and Canada, they have one “giant” in the form of Dr Samuel B Low.

Dr Low is a professor emeritus in the department of periodontology at the University of Florida’s college of dentistry. “He is our main speaker and he has a worldwide reputation,” said Dr Malone. “We are delighted to get him.

“We got him through Billy Davis and he’s giving the keynote on the Thursday [Dentistry: past, present and future] and then also giving another talk on the Friday [The future of Periodontics]. We are also giving him an honorary degree so, on top of being the keynote speaker, he is being honoured by the faculty as well, which is fantastic.”

Controversy

The two speakers Dr Malone hopes will deliver the ASM its dose of controversy are Dr Niek Opdam, from Holland, and Silvia Silli, from Austria. Dr Malone explained: “They will be quite controversial but a bit of controversy is good, I always think, because it gets people talking.

“Niek Opdam is talking about placing composite restorations in general practice. Some people say that composite restorations don’t work in the long term but he has figures going back over a period of 20 years that show that they work over that length of time.

“Sylvia Silli is an orthodontist and orthodontics is always controversial, just because it is! We hope to have a discussion on the role of the general practitioner in orthodontic treatment.”

As well Drs Opdam and Silli, and keynote Dr Low, Dr Malone said that he is also particularly looking forward to the presentation from Glenn McEvoy and Dr Edward Cotter at 11am on the Thursday. He said: “The reason I’m looking forward to that is because Glenn is a technician working at a lab called Eurocast and we want to bring the lab end of dentistry into the ASM as much as possible.

“When you are trying to do a big case it is not just down to the dentist, it is down to the team – the dentist, the technician and so on. What the technician has to say is equally as important as what the dentist has to say. That’s very important to get across.”

Academic relevance

As the only general practitioner on the dental faculty board, Dr Malone believes his experiences give him a unique insight when it comes to making sure the programme is as relevant as possible to his fellow GDPs.

However, he said: “But we also have to have a trade-off, we want to make it relevant to general practice but, on the other hand, it has to be academically strong. That is what distinguishes the RCSI ASM from other meetings. It has to be academically strong, so we choose people that are well-renowned and with strong research backgrounds so they can back up what they are saying.

“That’s the way it has been down the years and that’s the way it will be into the future.”

About Dr Sean Malone

Dr Sean Malone qualified from Trinity College Dublin in 1980. He worked in the Dublin Dental Hospital for a year and then moved to England where he worked for another year in Liverpool Dental Hospital.

He then worked in his own practice in Preston, Lancashire, until 1990 before returning to Ireland and joining Sandycove Dental Care in Dublin.

As well as being a board member of the faculty of dentistry at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, he is an examiner in Ireland and also overseas. He has been involved with the postgraduate programme in Kuwait for the last eight years, seeing it grow from just a couple of students in the first cohort, to 15 in the coming academic year.

He is also a past president of the Dublin branch of the Irish Dental Association, a past president of the Irish Dental Credit Union and served as president of the Irish Dental Association for 2013/2014.