Beyond the big brands

March 21, 2012

As doctors we are responsible for a myriad of things. Our professional lives are frequently divided between providing the best care possible, continuing education, staff management, facilities management, payroll, and don’t forget managing our practices as a business.

As doctors we are responsible for a myriad of things. Our professional lives are frequently divided between providing the best care possible, continuing education, staff management, facilities management, payroll, and don’t forget managing our practices as a business.

That last one has become a bit more stressful lately, don’t you think? Since the downturn in the economy, many people I’ve spoken with have seen downturns in their practices. Many offices are experiencing lower production, and some are seeing holes in the schedule when that just wasn’t happening a few years back.

Needs despite economy
Of course, life being what it is, there will be times when a piece of equipment needs replacing and yet your budget is telling you that this just isn’t the time. Then there’s also the point of expanding your menu of services. By offering your patients more services in-house such as endodontic treatment or implant placement, you can help keep your practice busy in times when your schedule could use some help.

The problem is how do you do this and stay within your budget? As we all know, replacing or adding equipment to your armamentarium comes with a cost. How can you provide your best services while keeping equipment costs in line?

The answer to this question could very well be to look at equipment with lower costs. We all know that name brands come with some added expense. However, I’ve been using some equipment from a company who prides themselves on high quality products while working on keeping costs in line.

Lil’ Beaver 2.0
Magnetostrictive Scaling Unit

Designed for hard working durability, this scaling unit is packed with clever features such as 25K/30K auto-frequency adjustment that allows use of all 25K and/or 30K “Cavitron™” type inserts; and a two-position “Turbo Boost” foot pedal that allows users to press lightly to begin scaling and then press more firmly for higher power scaling without adjusting the power dial. The outer housing of the handpiece is removable and can be sterilized. With a front-mounted power switch, the unit lays flat or mounts vertically in the provided vertical mounting stand.

Lower cost options
One of these companies is Vector Research & Development (vectorusa.net).  
Vector Research & Development was founded in 2001 by Brent Bigler. He had been in the dental industry for awhile as his dad owns a dental supply company. In 2001 Brent saw an opportunity to provide equipment with quality and still maintain prices lower than you would expect.  

The company offers many pieces of equipment including: highspeed handpieces, lowspeed handpieces, replacement turbines, handpiece couplers, magnetostrictive scalers, ultrasonic inserts, implant motors and curing lights.

I’ve been using three pieces of their equipment for a while now. They are the Lil’ Beaver Ultrasonic Scaler, the LED Turbo Curing Light, and the MD Technologies Implant Motor System.

The scaler
The Lil’ Beaver Ultrasonic Scaler has proven itself to be a solid performer in our hygiene department. The device accepts both 25K (long) and 30K (short) inserts and automatically adjusts to any style, brand or frequency.

It can be mounted either horizontally or vertically, has front-mounted controls, and has a durable aluminum housing. However, the one feature that my hygiene department really likes is the two-position foot pedal. A light press of the pedal provides normal power that is fine for most clinical situations. When more power is needed, pushing the pedal firmly results in “turbo” power boost. This is a nice feature when a hygienist is faced with areas of tenacious buildup.

MD Technologies
Implant/Surgical Motor System

Compatible with all brands and all types of implants, this motor system is operated via a full-function, variable speed foot pedal. The 50,000 rpm high-torque handpiece features a 32:1 push button contra angle. The control box can save settings for angle reduction, speed, torque, rotating direction and irrigation pump flow for up to 10 memory settings. The easy-to-use and install on-board irrigation pump for sterile water or saline provides consistent and predictable on demand water flow.

The curing light
The Vector LED Turbo curing light is a small “gun style” curing light that features an output of 2,100 mW/cm2, which is quite powerful. The device has a built-in battery that is designed for a rapid charge.

This means that in one hour on the included charging stand, the device will receive a 90% battery charge. The battery also has a long lasting charge that allows for a fully charged battery to deliver 1,200 three-second cures before recharging is needed.

LED Turbo Curing Light
With more than 2,100 mW/cm2 of curing power, this powerful curing light is an economical option that can cure up to 3 mm in 3 seconds. The LED Turbo emits blue light primarily in the 440 to 490 nm range, which will polymerize all camphor quinine (CPQ) type materials. With its compact size, light weight and ergonomic pistol-grip design as well as large raised switches and buttons, the light is easy to operate and comfortable to hold, even when wearing gloves. The charging base quickly recharges the light gun and provides up to 1 hour of curing time on a full charge.

The implant motor
Last, but certainly not least, is the MD Technologies MT-32SET implant motor and handpiece system. This is an entire implant delivery system in one box. The electric torque controlled motor is variable up to 50,000 rpm and comes with a 32:1 push button contra angle.  

The device also comes with a built-in irrigating system so sterile coolant can be used during implant procedures. The system uses a pump that can be varied from 0 to 75 mL/minute.

The controller box is variable manually, but also comes with 10 memory functions that can be preset for the procedures or implants you do routinely. And by programmable, I mean you can set the irrigation amount, bur direction, speed, torque and angle reduction. These programs can be cycled through on the controller box or the foot control.

Speaking of the foot control, it’s variable speed controller, meaning that the more pressure you apply, the faster it goes. It also has buttons across the top that allow for cycling through the programs, control of rotation and water control.

So if tough economic times are affecting your practice in ways that require you to cut costs, I feel you can do so without sacrificing quality. It may take a little investigation, but there are ways-and companies-to help you. In my time with the Vector products mentioned here I’ve found them to perform well.