See how one entrepreneurial clinician decided to improve the art of taking dental x-rays.
With the recent spike of innovation in dentistry, clinical dental professionals can now practice more efficiently and effectively as we help our patients continue on the road to oral health. In my role as brand consultant with dental product, service and technology companies, I work behind the scenes with innovative companies who are shaping the future of the industry and am privileged to see behind the curtain with what is coming down the line.
Since the pandemic, we've begun to understand how artificial intelligence (AI) can help in the diagnosing of pathologies present on radiographs. The great news is AI isn’t the only innovation happening in the dental radiography space! For the last several years Suzanne Cano, dental assistant, CEO and Founder of LunaLite Dental, worked tirelessly to design, patent and build a device that will help us take the guesswork out of taking radiographs. It was my pleasure to sit down with Suzanne to learn more about the why behind LunaLite.
Melissa Turner (MT): It’s great to sit down with you today, Suzanne. When we first met and you pitched the idea of LunaLite to me, I was blown away. Can you tell us more about the device?
Suzanne Cano (SC): LunaLite was literally born from a dream! The story goes like this: I dreamt I was drawing a device and, no lie, I actually woke up drawing it. The dream had such an energy behind it that I felt I had to execute on it immediately. I realized I needed to learn more about development, so I bought a $40 Arduino kit and started educating myself about sensors. From there, I began to design a prototype, moved on to a CAD drawing, and then was super excited when I was finally able to hold and test the very first LunaLite product. That process of initial design to creation took many months to carry out and I am proud to have that officially behind me.
MT: I believe it! In my 20 years in dentistry, I’ve used various manual x-ray holders and the bisecting technique, but the problem is taking x-rays still relies on guesswork and estimation–along with a compliant patient. How does LunaLite help with all of this?
SC: LunaLite is user-friendly, designed to fit around any x-ray cone head, ultimately saves dental practices time and money (and saves the clinician stress). The device automates accurate angles and is simple to use–all you need to do is attach LunaLite to the x-ray head, make sure the patient is positioned properly in the chair, line up the laser light, and take the shot. Using LunaLite eliminates the need for XCPs which are cumbersome, need to be assembled and autoclaved, and often get lost or warped. For clinicians who rely on the bisecting technique, the LunaLite device takes the guesswork out of opening the contacts and positioning.
MT: To me, this is a game changer as we take countless x-rays each day. If we’re being real, how many of those x-rays are perfect? We regularly have to deal with closed contacts, cone cuts, and patients who move. Outside of the recent innovation with AI for radiographs, there’s been very little innovation happening in dental radiology, so kudos to you for seeing a need and using your clinical expertise to help make our lives easier in the op. Moving on, it’s time for a #nofilter question: How hard – or easy – has it been to be a medical device inventor? I have a sneaking suspicion it’s not always butterflies and roses?
SC: Inventing is such an amazing journey and not an easy path – with trials and tribulations along the way. As a minority woman inventor and business owner, I’ve realized strength comes with focusing on being in the moment and learning to enjoy each step in the designing and development process. One of the best things entrepreneurs can do is to form strategic partnerships with other industry leaders in the community and then form benchmarks and objective goals, constantly reevaluating results and needs. When I first began this journey, I worked with 2 independent companies to help develop the product who, unfortunately, did not deliver. How I wish I would have known ahead of time to form benchmarks and goals and to speak up. Also, it’s important that you continue to have faith and believe in yourself as innovation can be lonely in that not everyone will understand what you are doing – but surely they will understand after it’s successful. Your faith and belief in yourself will guide you through.
MT: So true. I’m privileged to work internally with startups and new product launches and can tell you that innovation isn’t for everyone. What are the things that you rely on each day to advance as a business owner?
SC: The biggest thing is to know your weaknesses and delegate out those tasks you know fall under your weaknesses. I’m currently working with Cellerant Consulting to help grow awareness of how LunaLite can create positive change in the workday. I’ve found the networking at trade shows to be invaluable, social media to be very helpful, and that a good website can take you far. I also have partnerships with universities and schools to help the next generation of clinicians understand the need for better and more accurate x-rays.
MT: I’ll second that. Going from clinician to business owner is not an easy task. I know you’ve also come from a sales background, so what led you to pursue your own business?
SC: Going from working clinically as a dental assistant to medical device sales was pivotal for me and subsequently led me to where I am today. Sales cultivates the way you think about business and helps you learn the psychology, patterns and behavior of how people make buying decisions. For dentists and doctors specifically, I’ve found it crucial to cultivate relationships with them prior to selling as good sales reps will know their audience very well. Sales has always been in my blood and now I’m excited to be able to sell my own products – products that I’m even more passionate about.
MT: Passion is a huge driver in today’s industry, and I’m always a sucker for a good founder story. Pulling all of this together, where do you think dentistry is headed in regard to dental innovation?
SC: Good question! In answer to your question, I need to give a shout out to the other x-ray innovators who are revolutionizing the industry with artificial intelligence. Since the FDA recently began approving AI programs to help read radiographs, I think now clinicians realize the lack of innovation in this particular niche and in the art of taking x-rays. I’m excited for clinicians to be able to use AI to help educate their patients and diagnose and treat disease; however, AI is only as good as the x-ray itself. What if we could take more accurate radiographs and do so on the first try? Our patients deserve a more efficient appointment with the latest technology so we can together achieve better health outcomes. It’s my honor to help make that happen with LunaLite. If you would like to learn more, you can visit the website at LunaLite.com.
Additionally, we’re happy to provide a special discount to Dental Products Report readers. You can visit LunaLiteDental.com to receive 15% off LunaLite.