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Exploring how next-generation technology and advances in therapeutic delivery systems are leading to opportunities for practice growth.
Each month, Dr. Lou Shuman consults with dental industry experts to discuss the latest developments in technology ranging from truly innovative new products to the latest ideas in practice marketing, website optimization, SEO strategies, social media trends, online reputation management and more.
This month, Dr. Shuman sat down with Densen Cao, inventor and CEO of CAO Group, to discuss a new approach to delivering dental medicaments enabled by next-generation technology.
What fundamental innovations have you brought to dentistry?
In the late 1990s, my research was focused on the use of LED light sources to replace halogen curing lights, which were bulky, hot and degraded quickly. In 2000 we introduced the first commercial LED curing light and almost every LED light in the market today uses that patent. With further research into the fields of optics and light we invented and launched the first compact soft-tissue diode laser for dentistry in 2002, with many of the best-selling brands today using our technology.
Recently we have developed technology for more effective and efficient medicament delivery to the oral cavity, which we see as having many important applications today and in the future.
What exactly does medicament delivery mean?
Medicaments are all forms of therapeutic substances, including those that are applied topically. Injections and trays are traditional forms of medicament delivery in dentistry but have limitations and drawbacks. There are healing agents that would be more effective with persistent delivery over an extended time, but of course that’s a challenge in the wet environment of the mouth not to mention the issue of swallowing the medicaments outright.
We have created a patented medicament strip delivery system with a semi-sticky gelatinous matrix that is ideal for encapsulating a variety of therapeutic agents and conforms beautifully to the teeth and gum tissue. We apply the medicated gelatin layer to a uniquely pliable backing strip for ease of application and a form fit.
Are there products employing this medicament strip technology that are commercially available now?
The first application has been for improved professional whitening products. Since there are over-the-counter strip offerings, we knew this product had to meet a significantly higher professional standard. In both our SheerWhite! In-Office and Take-Home products we have been able to achieve stable 20 percent concentrations of the active whitening agents (hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide, respectively). Higher concentrations as well as an improved fit have resulted in a product that delivers faster results with shorter wear time.
At the same time our dentists told us that we needed to overcome issues like high cost, inconvenience, chair-time inefficiency and sensitivity that hamper traditional professional offerings. Sensitivity is reduced by significantly improved fit and encapsulation of the active whitening agents, even at higher concentrations. There are no custom trays or messy gels for either the staff or the patient. Chair time for the in-office system is one minute or less. The take-home strips are easier for the patient to apply correctly and permit eating and drinking liquids during wear. The fit and esthetics are so good that patients can wear them in public and talk normally. And the technology is so efficient to manufacture that dentists can compete with over-the-counter pricing while offering a professional quality product that reflects positively on their practice.
What other applications are on the near horizon for delivery via medicament strips?
We envision this strip delivery system as a platform for a variety of treatments, including desensitization, remineralization, periodontal disinfection, administration of topical anesthetic and fluoride application. These strips will provide a better patient experience and fast and effective therapy due to increased surface area contact and duration, and elimination of costly and time-consuming trays and solutions