Big Ideas From Small Companies

Dental Products Report, Dental Products Report June 2021, Volume 55, Issue 6

Innovation in dentistry can come from anyone and anywhere, as long as there is a spark of creativity and the drive to pursue it.

Innovation is an interesting topic. It is one of the subjects studied over and over in hopes of understanding it better, yet its secrets remain out of reach of mortal man. One of the age-old questions is “How did you manage to think of that?”

It’s difficult to train someone to have good ideas. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve sat staring at a keyboard and monitor trying to figure out what to write, I’d be…well, a lot better off financially than I am now. Although we know that pressure can negatively affect creativity, we don’t know the secrets to encourage creativity.

I find the science of innovation fascinating. Whether it’s an article, a song, or a breakthrough in engineering, no one really knows what creates the spark in a person’s brain that allows them to create phenomenal art or hardware.

For example, the chemical benzene was isolated from compressed coal gas in 1825 by scientific legend Michael Faraday. However, the actual chemical structure of benzene eluded science until 40 years later in 1865. That’s when German scientist August Kekulé, who also studied benzene, had a dream of a snake eating its own tail and awoke with the idea that the molecule was a ring.

How and why these things happen continue to be a secret for generations. I’d like to introduce some products that feature innovations developed by individuals who had a spark of creativity and turned the dream into reality just like Kekulé.


Are you tired of having burs fall out of your bur blocks? We’ve all experienced situations where a bur block falls to the floor, and the burs scatter like cockroaches when you flipped the switch on the kitchen light in your college apartment. Or you reach for that one particular bur in your setup that you desperately need to finish a prep, only to find it has fallen out somewhere since the last time you used it, and now you are running behind as someone tries to find the missing bur.

Anodized aluminum bur blocks are a great idea, but even with lids, things still get spilled or lost. To the rescue comes BurButler. This line comes from the smart mind of Dr Paul Moore, who wanted a way to organize things.

BurButler products are made of medical-grade silicone and can be autoclaved hundreds of times without any noticeable change in appearance. The idea is that the silicone firmly grips onto the shank of the bur and keeps it in place. Even turning them upside down or dropping them doesn’t displace the burs.

Because Dr Moore is a practicing dentist, he understands the industry and the different tools we need and use. Because of that, there are all kinds of BurButler products. There are holders for CEREC and other types of milling blocks, endo files, lab burs, and handpiece burs. The BurButler comes in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. I’ve been using them in my practice for the past 6 months, and I have nothing but good things to say about them. Added to all of the benefits is the simple fact that the company has 2 employees, Dr Moore and his wife, who are 2 of the nicest people I’ve ever met. I highly encourage you to give BurButler a try.

Check them out at


This recommendation is more for the company than a single product. AdDent definitely fits the “small company” description and is located in Danbury, Connecticut. It was founded by Dr Josh Friedman. AdDent is a terrific example of the “small company-big ideas” concept. Although it is still a small dental company, it makes several products that I use on a regular basis.

The first is the Calset Warmer for composites. It is an alternating current–powered warming base that heats composite compules or syringes. The heating base has several interchangeable warming tops that fit on top of the base. These warming tops are designed to hold composite, veneers, and instruments, and they can be switched out whenever a procedure dictates it. Warm composite is much easier to work with, while warming composite also offers many positive curing benefits as well.

The next product is the CoMax™ composite dispenser. Although there are many composite dispenser guns on the market, they are treated as an afterthought by manufacturers. Normally, the doctor buys a composite kit and some type of inexpensive gun-style dispenser comes as part of the package. Rather than treat this as an afterthought, AdDent treats the dispenser as a critical part of the procedure, which it is.

The CoMax has a “quick load” feature to allow for easy placement and removal of the compule in the gun, as well as a well-thought-out mechanical advantage that makes extruding the material easier than any other dispensing gun on the market. Another great feature is the construction. The CoMax is made out of high-tech plastic and stainless steel that doesn’t age. I’ve been using CoMax guns for years, and they still look like they just came out of the package.

Check them out at

CAO Group

In the 1990s, a young Dr Densen Cao, with a PhD in materials science, was doing research with Drs Gordon and Rella Christensen. He left that position and in 1999 invented the very first LED curing light. In 2000, he started CAO Group in West Jordan, Utah. CAO originally started as an original equipment manufacturer making products for other companies. As Dr Cao’s number of patents and inventions grew, the company began to sell products under its own name.

During the past 12 months, the company created the Aegis Aerosol VacStation, which removes over 99% of aerosols from the air. The company also created the Monet handheld laser curing light.

The VacStation combines 4 types of filtration: high-fiber cotton, fiberglass, activated carbon, and 280-nm LEDs, which is a wavelength that kills viruses. Because the device pulls in 200 m3/hour, it filters anything 0.3 µm or above with an efficiency of 99.97%.

The Monet is the first handheld laser curing light. Every photon that is created goes to the target and is used to thoroughly cure the composite. Regular LED curing lights require the user keep them as close to the target as possible, but with the Monet, users can be several inches away and still get an incredible cure.

It has become fashionable to manufacture curing lights with multiple curing times and intensities, but with the Monet, there is 1 button and 1 setting. Just press the button and get an incredibly intense 3-second cure. No other settings are needed. Three seconds can provide a potential depth of cure of up to 8 mm.

Wrapping Up

We have some amazing minds in our profession. Although it is great to have large corporations with big research and development departments, the industry greatly benefits from situations where an individual conceives of a product and pursues it to its logical conclusion. I love it when someone sees a problem and lets nothing stand in their way until it’s solved. As Thomas Edison once said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”

I wish we could discover how to make that creativity show up whenever we need it. Until then, we’ll continue to count on smart and dedicated individuals to pursue their dreams and make our profession just a little bit better—one good idea at a time.