Erania Brackett, senior vice president, orthodontic aligner solutions & customer experience, explains to Dental Products Report® the company’s strategy in orthodontics and the key roles education, integration, and support play in helping both clinicians and patients when it comes to achieving optimal oral health.
The world of clear aligners keeps evolving, with material advances, new manufacturers, and ever-growing patient demand constantly changing what is available to patients and what dental practitioners need to know to stay on top of as many of these changes as possible.
Dentsply Sirona’s Senior Vice President Erania Brackett has recently added “orthodontic aligner solutions” to her list of duties, to go along with her extensive background in marketing, customer experience, clinical education, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG). Brackett sat down with
Dental Products Report’s Managing Editor Stan Goff to discuss her new role with Dentsply Sirona, along with the company’s aligner offerings, SureSmile and Byte, continuing education platforms, sustainability programs, and this year’s Dentsply Sirona World event, to be held September 21 to 23 in Las Vegas.
Here are some of the highlights from the interview:
Tell us a little about yourself and what’s new with Dentsply Sirona.
Erania Brackett (EB):
I have been a member of Dentsply Sirona’s management committee since August 2021. Back then, I joined the company as the chief marketing officer with a goal to begin to elevate and unify Dentsply Sirona’s external brand and value proposition. This was especially exciting as dentistry is becoming more and more digital. With our extensive portfolio, we have a unique opportunity to showcase the transformation happening in the industry.
In my new position since April 2023, I am leading Dentsply Sirona’s efforts to enhance the customer experience across multiple areas, including brand management, pricing, clinical education, digital marketing, and key opinion leader governance and programs. Additionally, I am responsible for the rapidly growing orthodontic aligner solutions business.
Very soon you’ll see the new look and feel and messaging from Dentsply Sirona, and we’re very excited about it.
Can you elaborate some on these brand-new things, as well as other enhancements since you joined Dentsply Sirona?
Our CEO, Simon Campion, joined in September 2022, and he asked me to focus on customer experience and explore how we can shape the future for dental professionals who work with us, helping them progress with confidence.
Our new brand identity underlines that we are about to write the next chapter of Dentsply Sirona. It is the visual expression of our business transformation, to boldly signal to the marketplace our renewed commitment to unite with our customers and partners for better dentistry and to shape its future together. This brand update supports our efforts to advance with confidence for our people, our customers, and their patients.
I also lead ESG, which is a great fit. Both investors as well as employees have certain expectations of companies, and the latter are looking for great places to work. It’s really all about their experience—why would they partner with us, why would they look to us for products or why would they want to work for a company like ours?
Shifting over from the marketing role, I am considering the best approach to position our company in embracing ESG practices and effectively implementing them through collaboration with various departments within the organization.
Tell us a little about the company’s orthodontic offerings and why clinicians might consider adding SureSmile to their treatment offerings.
Our overall vision is to create the best-in-class oral health care platform that serves both patients and clinicians by connecting them seamlessly via digital technologies. The goal is to help the dentist to create the best end-to-end experience for the patient.
Patients increasingly ask their dentists for clear aligners to correct their teeth. With SureSmile, dentists can offer an aligner solution that can be implemented quickly, easily, and with great flexibility in workflow and costs.
SureSmile is about predictable results: With no refinements required in 3 out of 4 SureSmile cases, refinement rate is a huge advantage. A shorter treatment means less chair time per patient, as well as more confidence in the process and better treatment experience for them, and consequently opens more space and time for new patients in the practice.
With the SureSmile aligner system, dental professionals can feel sure that they’re delivering the best treatment experience for their patients. We combined our unique understanding of patients’ needs with advanced materials and technology to ensure they fit comfortably, promote better oral hygiene, and deliver the precise tooth movement to give patients a confident smile that lasts a lifetime.
At last year’s Dentsply Sirona World, you interviewed the founder and executive chairwoman of Spanx, Sara Blakely, on the main stage to talk about growing a business from the ground up, and the event also featured a presentation on sustainability. This annual event, which takes place again this September, brings plenty of energy to attendees, speakers, and exhibitors, correct?
I’m glad you remember those events and I hope those memories are positive.
Dentsply Sirona World is the annual event of our clinical education programming and this year’s “Ultimate Experience in Digital Dentistry” will be a special learning opportunity with 2 live procedures for participants to observe and learn from. DS World 2023 will offer a personalized learning experience with over 100 courses taught by more than 75 locally and internationally distinguished instructors. Courses will cover the latest dental techniques in areas such as endodontics, preventive, implants, clear aligners, restorative and 3D technology.
Over the years, DS World has gained a reputation not only for its vast clinical education programming and networking opportunities, but also as an event for guests to be personally inspired. This year, we are proud to announce that renowned businessman, investor, and television personality Kevin O’Leary, known by many as Mr Wonderful, will speak at Dentsply Sirona World [in] Las Vegas.
Share a little about what the company’s strategy is to play a big role in orthodontics and the popularity of clear aligners.
Dentsply Sirona offers a range of orthodontic aligner solutions created to ensure patients achieve a healthy smile. SureSmile is our clinically differentiated professional clear aligner system, for mild to complex cases,and Byte is our doctor-directed, at-home aligner treatment for mild cases, maximizing affordability and convenience for patients.
With SureSmile we are mainly targeting the GPs because that’s where we see tremendous opportunity; to help more general practitioners add more services to their practices. We’re helping them grow beyond the preventive space where they’re referring patients out for things like endodontics, implants, and, certainly, orthodontics.
We provide a comprehensive business model, complete with training and educational support that they’re going to need, alongside a simple and efficient system that they can operate in.
With the SureSmile aligner technology, dental professionals can feel sure that they’re delivering the best treatment experience for their patients.
With so many clear aligner options available, what message does Dentsply Sirona want to send to clinicians?
GPs and orthodontists know that aligners are creating major traction, therefore that was also an opportunity to really innovate and leverage what we had in the SureSmile platform. How do you take SureSmile, this wonderful tool, that we believe is a key differentiator, and give confidence to GPs to incorporate this into their practice?
Predictability is the most important consideration for doctors when selecting a clear aligner system. As I mentioned previously, refinement is a huge advantage with SureSmile
We have implemented several strategies to support and attract customers to our solution by emphasizing its simplicity and ease-of-use. They have support to help them get started in their practice and continue to do more and more cases and lower the barrier of acceptance by training them. Our team of experts across field sales, clinical implementation specialists, and customer care specialists partners with the doctors every step of the way.
How do you get the message of training and support to come across clearly?
We believe an excellent treatment experience begins with excellent training. SureSmileU, our onboarding online platform, in combination with our hands-on support, will help practices get through their first 3 cases in the first 90 days to help doctors to develop the skills and familiarize with the software.
SureSmileU features recently refreshed content and an updated design and layout that is intuitive and easy to use, incorporating feedback from our doctors.
This online training resource is a self-paced learning platform accessible at any time, from anywhere. The interactive content supports case submission; tips and tricks videos to guide patient interactions; and printable resources—doctors will be supported and guided every step of the way. DS Academy offers ongoing support through a library of clinical educational resources and training events, furthermore, the clear aligners curriculum will be launching towards the end of the year.
Studies have shown that orthodontic care can lead to additional restorative care for patients, and, therefore, improved overall health. Can you touch on this added benefit?
That’s right. Although some of the data on the broader impacts of malocclusion are mixed, as the research base evolves, the relationship between overall health and the various forms and grades of malocclusion will come increasingly into focus. Understanding the potential links between misaligned teeth and patients’ physical and psychosocial health will be critical to counseling patients on the benefits and risks of orthodontic treatment.
Historically, malocclusion has been viewed in terms of aesthetics or function, but recent discussion emphasizes its impact on overall dental and systemic health. If this perspective is shifted, practitioners can encourage patients to seek treatment for malocclusion before it progresses. Then, the patient will understand the oral health benefits, not just the improvements in their appearance.
Clear aligners are a versatile and effective tool in treating various dental issues, including severe crowding and cases that traditionally might have required surgery.
Moving away from orthodontics for the moment, can you tell us about Dentsply Sirona’s plans for sustainability?
At Dentsply Sirona, we recognize that sustainability is a journey, not a destination. We are committed to becoming a more sustainable company and to driving the change for the entire industry. Dentsply Sirona’s commitment to sustainability is rooted in our long-term vision of a brighter world and our mission of transforming lives, while understanding the positive impact it can have on our business, the dental industry, society, and the environment. This commitment is reflected in our comprehensive sustainability strategy called BEYOND. We can already be proud of achieving 2 of our 3 2025 environmental goals: At the end of 2022, we had already reached our goals for decreasing water withdrawal intensity and reducing Scope 1 and 2 [greenhouse gas emission] intensity by 15%. We are now in the process of establishing the next set of goals that will bring us closer to our 2050 target.
How is Dentsply Sirona supporting dental professionals to become more sustainable?
Last year we commissioned a Global Sustainability in Dentistry Study to understand how dentists around the world view sustainability and where they look to us and the industry for support. The study further reveals a significant gap between the importance of sustainability to dentists vs how they perceive the industry is performing. While 7 in 10 dentists think sustainability is important in the dental industry, just under 70% of dentists admitted that they did not know how to start implementing concrete sustainability actions.
To address the existing knowledge gap among dentists, we have put together a Sustainability in Dentistry Resource Kit—available free of charge—that contains resources to guide dental professionals towards a better understanding of sustainability in dentistry, giving them the chance to commit to sustainable dentistry and information on specific actions they can take in their practices and labs.
The Sustainability in Dentistry Resource Kit consists of 3 parts: Our Sustainability Educational Curriculum to understand what sustainability means for dentistry, including why and how dental professionals can have an impact. Secondly, as part of our partnership with the FDI World Dental Federation, we developed an interactive toolkit that outlines concrete measures dental professionals can take to become more environmentally friendly in their practices or labs. As another result of the partnership with FDI, a pledge for sustainable dentistry has been published to invite dental professionals to show their support for environmental sustainability within oral health care. By signing, dental professionals express their commitment to reducing negative environmental impacts of their practice or lab.
With the company’s comprehensive portfolio of dental products and solutions, tell us what impact Dentsply Sirona can have on helping patients with their overall health, as well as oral wellness.
Our mission is to improve oral health globally. We support everybody in the market that is looking to do that. Our focus has been on developing digital workflows that enhance various aspects of the dental practice. The goal was to create a system that caters to the needs of dentists, general practitioners, specialists, and, most importantly, patients. Because we have these core businesses in our portfolio, it’s been important that we develop our digital dentistry backbone, which is our DS core product, [so] that it really integrates all our technologies.
Whether it’s the implant, restorative, endodontics, or orthodontics workflow with our SureSmile aligners, the high level of automation that our DS digital universe brings helps reduce handling times, allows delegation, and enables increased productivity, making dental professionals’ work easier and faster. This is our edge and sets us apart as the digital pioneer of the dental industry. Connectivity is an important focus for the future and certainly an area for innovation.
The other point here is that it’s important that dentists and GPs understand that Dental Sirona’s systems are very flexible. The way that our solutions and our workflows are set up is that you can enter at any point with what’s right for your practice at this time. And through selecting the right solutions over time, and by us bringing forward education to help clinicians see how best to grow their practices, we can help dentists around the world understand how to grow their practice in a way that fits for them. As they grow into this overall dental suite, they don’t have to have everything. You get started with that intraoral scanner and that unlocks so much opportunity and capability for that practice down the road.
Dentsply Sirona is updating its dental product and technology offerings on a regular basis and that is part of the reason the company and its suite of digital dentistry solutions play a big role in the industry. But continuing education, partnerships, and support also are key.
When it comes to orthodontics, the company has experts assist with cases to ensure that dental professionals using SureSmile have all the confidence and resources they need to provide predictable, successful results that lead to happy patients and successful practices. SureSmile aligner providers receive support tailored to their practice’s goals. These providers complete an online onboarding program with the SureSmileU platform and can access ongoing support through DS Academy, an expansive library of educational resources and in-person training events.
In June, the company announced an updated slate of content on its SureSmileU e-learning platform. Additionally, Dentsply Sirona World 2023 will include courses that cover a range of topics, including endo, implants, aligners, and more. More than 10 CE credits will be available at Dentsply Sirona World 2023, with more than 100 courses taught across the event, which will take place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, from September 21 to 23.