The innovators behind some of this year’s top product launches give us an inside look at what it takes to turn a vision into a successful dental product.
The year is winding down, but 2015 ushered in some amazing new innovations-innovations that couldn't have happened without a few key people behind the scenes.
These dental industry professionals contributed to some of the biggest product launches and redesigns of the year, setting dental professionals up for a great year with exciting new technology and materials in 2016. Now, we're taking a look at the people behind some of the year's best dental products.
Click through the following pages to meet these forward-thinking members of the dental industry.
Henry Schein Practice Solutions
When Henry Schein Practice Solutions (HSPS) decided to start building Dentrix G6, there was no doubt in Brad Royer’s mind what would serve as the centerpiece of the new version of the popular practice management software: the customer.
Royer, a Utah-based product manager with HSPS, watched as Dentrix G6 launched this year and has seen the feedback from users around the country. Proudly, he says the company’s goal of having the software be customer-centered has been achieved.
“We tried to utilize customer feedback to a greater extent than we’ve ever done in the past,” Royer said. “We looked on our User Voice (a product HSPS has used since 2009 to gather feedback) to see what were the most highly requested features our customers wanted. We went back to those groups when we implemented the new features to see if they were truly what they wanted and then listened some more.”
Going back and forth with customers and testing and retesting extended the prelaunch period for Dentrix G6 but proved valuable in the end.
“It was honestly an extraordinarily long beta feedback period,” Royer recalled. “We ended up having items in the program that weren’t there when we originally started the testing. More than anything, we wanted to know that, when we released it, Dentrix G6 would be what people truly wanted and functioned in the way our customers wanted.”
While the beta testing period was different for HSPS than in years past, it was not the only thing that changed with Dentrix G6.
“Dentrix G6 was a downloadable full release, and that’s something we had never done in the past,” Royer said. “There was a lot of transparency involved with that, and that was great. We would far rather eat crow and get something wrong and fix it than hear about something and not be able to fix it.”
To help practices further automate daily tasks, such as scheduling, charting, treatment planning, billing and reporting, Dentrix G6 features upgrades to its financial analytics and accounting and billing tools that make it easier to manage patient information. In addition, Dentrix G6 offers new functionality through the eDex service, which allows easier access to patient information by enabling business and personal contacts to be merged and accessible on a single platform. Dentrix G6 also features a new “click-to-chat” button in the help menu so customers can receive real-time answers to their questions from the Dentrix support team.
Another new button on the Dentrix G6 toolbar gives one-click access to the Dentrix Marketplace, an online store that offers products and services that work with Dentrix, including Dentrix-connected apps that integrate directly into the Dentrix system to eliminate duplicate data entry and speed up the practice workflow.
From most accounts, Dentrix G6 hit the mark. Royer said the feedback he and HSPS have received has been tremendous and proves the wait for the new release was well worth the time invested.
“The feedback has been fantastic,” Royer said. “We’ve been told by customers time and time again that G6 is the best Dentrix release in years and that this was the release they’ve been waiting for. We’ve also been told of customers who were waiting to switch to Dentrix until G6 was launched so that’s been outstanding as well. It’s slimmer. It’s faster. It’s more efficient. It’s what the customers wanted.”
As the end of the year approaches, Royer can look back and see that the planning, hard work and anticipation has paid off for HSPS.
“The best way to ensure you’re going to do something right is to get as much feedback as you can before it begins,” Royer said. “We did that. We gathered as many points of feedback as we possibly could. The ideas our customers gave to us were implemented, and our customers can see that. That has generated a lot of excitement in and of itself.”
Eclipse LED headlight
B.J. Chang, PhD, is president and chief scientist of SurgiTel Systems, a division of General Scientific Corp., in Ann Arbor, Mich. From the late 1970s to late 1980s, Dr. Chang led the development of advanced head-up display systems for fighter jets such as the F15E, A10 and F4. For more than 20 years, he has extended the ergonomic principles used for military display systems designs to clinical vision systems. This has led to SurgiTel’s family of ergonomic loupes and illumination systems, which prevent chronic neck and back pains. Here, he tells us about SurgiTel’s history, as well as the Eclipse LED Headlight launched in 2014.
When did SurgiTel start, and what is your team’s mission?
I started SurgiTel in 1992 as a division of General Scientific Corporation. SurgiTel’s founding goal is to help clinicians work better without work-related injuries. Our motto, “Vision and Ergonomics,” has kept us focused on that goal throughout our history.
How did the idea for the sensor-activated Eclipse LED Headlight get started?
Some of our customers pointed out touching knobs and switches can create cross contamination. At this time, several companies introduced push buttons on batteries, which were touted to solve the problem. But, many times, these lights would accidently turn on and off when they came into contact with seating and other objects. Plus, there was still physical contact so patients were still being put at risk.
Then you never released a touch-button battery?
No. Even though our customers requested this, it was only a half-way solution. We could have sold a lot of touch-button lights just then, but we needed to focus our efforts on finding something better. At SurgiTel, we keep the long-term view in mind. We have seen time and time again a real solution later is better than a half-way solution right away. It is just better for everyone.
So how long was the development process?
It was a long time. We conceived the IR sensor concept about five years ago. We had the idea but had to wait on the technology. Then engineering and development took about two years. Not only did the Eclipse need to be easy to use and accurate but also lightweight. All of SurgiTel’s designs, from our oculars to our frames to our lights, were developed with weight reduction in mind. A comfortable loupe starts with being lightweight. It took several iterations to develop from a much bigger prototype down to the miniaturized size it is now. Finally, after everything was in place, we introduced the original Eclipse in 2014.
What has been the response from clinicians?
Great! Recently, AGD Impact published a review by Dr. Howard Glazer where he describes the “aseptic advantage” provided by the Eclipse. (The entire article is available to view on our website.) Dr. Glazer also describes the quality of our light beam produced by our patented achromatic technology, which is another of our innovations. Also, we have heard from a large number of clinicians about beneficial side effects of the Eclipse’s primary function.
What sort of “side-effect” benefits?
One: Battery life is increased because clinicians are no longer leaving the light on when they don’t need it. Two: The light is easier to turn off during short patient consolations so patients are less likely to get blinded by a stray light beam. I have even heard of clinicians, when using lights with switches, asking their assistants turn off/on their lights for them to avoid cross-contamination risk. Three: When the dentist uses the Eclipse, the assistant is freed to work on patient needs.
Where can people go to get more information?
For the Eclipse, contact your local SurgiTel representative (surgitel.com/myrep). They can demonstrate the Eclipse in the clinician’s office. It is best to experience hands-on (or “hands-off” in this case!). For more information on vision and ergonomics, we continually share new white papers, product reviews and links to clinical research in our newsletter and at our website (surgitel.com/news).
Senior Product Manager Adam Palermo has been with the KaVo Kerr Group of companies for more than eight years. Starting in 2007, he began as a project manager overseeing software and hardware development for the i-CAT platform for three years. Then, building off of his mechanical engineering background, he spent two years as the manager of the mechanical engineering team for some of the group’s imaging equipment brands, and, ultimately, Palermo ended up in product management, where he has been for more than three years. Currently he manages the intraoral sensor, camera and caries detection product strategy and roadmap for KaVo Kerr Group, including DEXIS Platinum™, DEXcam™ 4 and CariVu™.
Here, he answers some questions about the development and launch of the DEXcam 4, one of the top new products launched this past year.
How did the idea for DEXcam 4 get started?
Since discontinuing our premium models a few years ago, our presence in the camera market has been the lower-priced DEXcam 3.
It was clear after soliciting input from our owners, dealer partners and sales team that there was an unmet need in our portfolio for a higher end camera with improvements in a few key areas of usability. As such, I set out to launch a camera with better image quality, best-in-class ergonomics and enhanced portability.
How long was the development process?
From conception through development and on to product launch, the process was less than nine months. We could have gone to market sooner but instead opted for a significant amount of testing. The camera was subjected to extreme environmental exposure, accelerated lifetime testing and, ultimately, real clinical-use cases.
What type of clinician feedback was involved, and what has been the response of practices now using the product?
Prior to launch, we enlisted the help of three DEXIS owners. With a detailed request of specific images and feedback criteria, these dentists and their teams put the camera through its paces. The reviews were outstanding. The clinicians reported excellent usability, and they were impressed with both usability and image quality.
Why should practices consider using the DEXcam?
Communication and education are critical to gaining patient acceptance-whether it be for buy-in on a particular diagnosis or to highlight the results of treatment. DEXcam 4 was designed with the goal of providing a solution to this customer need as elegantly and simply as possible. It is a valuable product alongside the DEXIS CariVu caries detection device and the DEXIS Platinum intraoral sensor for any clinician wanting the full spectrum of diagnostic and communication tools.
Nobel Biocare complete posterior solution
In early 2015, Nobel Biocare expanded its product line to include the complete posterior solution that comprises new wide-platform implants that support an optimized emergence profile at large molar sites plus new PEEK healing and temporary abutments that are anatomically designed to match molar contours. For the final restoration, the NobelProcera FCZ (full-contour zirconia) implant crown is said to have the strength to handle high occlusal forces. With an angulated screw channel, it offers restorative flexibility without cement.
DPR asked Sofie Maltha Biehle, global marketing manager, implant systems and digital dentistry, to tell us about this innovative launch and how this product plays a key role in the evolving field of implant dentistry.
How long have you been with Nobel Biocare and/or tell us a little about your background.
I’ve been with Nobel Biocare since December 2010 so almost five years. I’m Danish and did my master in international marketing at the Copenhagen Business School. I moved to Switzerland in 2008 and started in a digital communication agency where I worked for about two years with various large B2C and B2B brands before changing to Nobel Biocare. At Nobel Biocare, I’m in charge of product marketing, heading a small team. We focus on all product-related marketing activities from global positioning to communication strategy and production of marketing materials. We primarily support our global product launches and help our markets roll out communication tactics locally.
How did the idea for this complete posterior solution get started?
At Nobel Biocare, we’ve always developed innovative products that work together as a complete solution. Extensive evidence is available on the importance of using original products together as a solution to secure a successful outcome. However, we still see systems being mixed and matched, which can lead to serious complications if not designed to fit with each other. With the complete posterior solution, we wanted to emphasize the importance of the “system” and bring together some of our latest innovations to solve common challenges for the single-tooth replacement in the posterior region. To get this message out, we looked for innovative communication tactics that would do justice to the true innovation of our solution. We found this in “virtual reality,” which is normally used in the gaming industry. We came up with the idea to bring our visitors “virtually” into the operating room of an implant treatment using the complete posterior solution. Using a customized filming technique (filming 360° at all times), the visitor would get a unique feeling of being in the operating room by looking through the eyes of the surgeon. This is a completely new way of watching a clinical video, which could potentially be used in the future for training and education purposes.
The communication campaign “Bringing innovation back” was developed in cooperation with our agency “Sitrus” (formerly known as Citat).
How long was the development process?
The campaign took about six months in total to develop with two additional months for localization. The products, of course, took a lot longer – over a year.
What type of clinician feedback was involved, and what has been the response of practices/patients now using the product(s)?
The solution was one of the biggest requests from our customer group, especially in the U.S. market, as they found a need to have a wider platform to build a nicer emergence profile for the large molar crown. They also requested to have a solution where they could load the implant immediately because more and more patients expect to leave the surgery with (provisional) teeth.
Why should practices consider using these implants?
It’s important to note it is not about the implants only; it’s a about the solution including implants, temporary abutments, final implant crown and tooling. Together, the solution can help make the clinician’s life a lot easier for single-tooth replacements of (pre)molars. One key phrase for this solution is “shorter time-to-teeth,” which means the treatment steps are as short and efficient as possible to provide the patient with fixed teeth as fast as possible. That saves time for the clinician and benefits the patient, which in turn helps increase patient satisfaction. This is possible due to our implants, which are designed for high primary stability, as well as our temporary abutments. Another key phrase for us is “100 percent cement-free.” Here, we refer to the critical tissue complications that can come from the excess use of cement with a final crown. It is especially difficult to remove all excess cement in the back of the mouth where visibility is limited. Therefore, the NobelProcera FCZ implant crown was developed as 100 percent cement-free, meaning even the metal adapter is mechanically retained.
The third key phrase is “ease-of-use,” which refers to solving the challenge of accessing a site in the back of the mouth. A patient can only open his or her mouth so far so it is especially important to have state-of-the-art tooling as screws can be easy to lose, which can be potentially dangerous for the patient. This is overcome with our omnigrip tooling, which grips the screw in a unique way so it’s almost impossible to lose. Also, the implant crown can be accessed and screwed in from an angle, which is highly beneficial in this area of the mouth where space is limited.
3M Oral Care Group
3M ESPE Elipar DeepCure-S and Paradigm LED curing lights
Joe Oxman has been working with dental materials research and curing light technology for almost his entire career. The 3M corporate scientist has been with the company for 33 years and has been involved in developing numerous dental and non-dental technologies and materials.
This past year, the new 3M™ ESPE™Elipar™ DeepCure-S and Paradigm™ LED curing lights were launched and featured on the cover of DPR in July. Here, Oxman, who has a PhD in organic photochemistry from Northwestern University, tells us how these breakthrough lights were developed.
“There’s actually a great story behind the DeepCure,” said Oxman, a global expert in photocurable systems, nanotechnology and composites. “I’ve had the opportunity to work closely and collaboratively with an array of great people within 3M, as well as numerous academicians and opinion leaders within and outside the dental communities.”
Oxman says the inspiration for the idea of the new DeepCure curing lights came out of a session at the International Association of Dental Research (IADR) meeting in Seattle in March of 2013. At that time, he served as a cochair along with Prof. Richard Price from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. At the meeting, Price gave a lecture about the light curing effects on the physical properties of polymer based dental materials while Oxman conducted a session that addressed areas such as newer bulk-fill materials and why increasing light intensity doesn’t allow one to necessarily cure for a shorter amount of time.
“My lecture focused on several concurrent trends in the world of light curing,” he said. “For example, the recent introduction of several low shrinkage-stress bulk-curing materials that typically report 4-plus mm of cure depth. The desire to restore teeth with fewer composite increments has been articulated for decades. Another noticeable trend has been the recent introduction of ultra high intensity curing lights by some manufacturers. Some of those manufacturers suggest that if you dramatically increase the light intensity you then can reduce the time of light exposure by an inversely proportional amount.”
One of Oxman’s take-home messages was that the time of the light exposure is more important than the intensity of the curing light. That is, if a clinician uses a high intensity light, he or she still has to make sure to cure it long enough. He recommends clinicians cure the restorative materials according to the instructions of the composite manufacturer and not the light manufacturers. The implication of insufficient curing is more than just poor clinical performance.
During that same IADR meeting, Price gave a key and seminal lecture on the importance of the attributes of the lights themselves. Oxman refers to one critical attribute as “light beam homogeneity.” What’s the impact of a light without uniform light distribution?
Price elegantly demonstrated that there are many different dental curing lights all with unique light distribution profiles that exit the light tip. He then demonstrated that if you have a lack of homogeneity, something you can’t discern with the naked eye, there are regions where you have more light intensity and some where you have less intensity.
“As a consequence, there might be cases where it’s so uneven that the net result of this light inhomogeneity at the light guide tip could actually result in a lack of homogeneous composite curing under the light as demonstrated by Price,” Oxman said. Independent, sound scientific work by Price and also my colleagues at 3M examined the numerous dental curing lights and found that most of them didn’t actually provide uniform light output.”
If you want a good clinical outcome, you clearly need the material under the light to be cured well and uniformly. It was the research and lectures by Price and Oxman that paved the way for the new lights.
“So, basically, this raised new fundamental awareness and knowledge on the understanding of light homogeneity,” Oxman explained. “Coupled with our understanding of what is required to achieve a well-light cured material, it was the seed or the basis for designing a new light that would provide adequate light intensity and uniform beam homogeneity to provide uniform curing at top as well as the bottom of the restoration.”
With this new knowledge, Oxman came back from IADR and met with an eclectic and collaborative team of 3M scientists that design curing lights with a mission and goal to provide products that provide robust, simple, easy and uniform performance in clinical settings.
“That was how it originated. Upon returning, I engaged our technical team that has expertise in lights, optics, material optical properties and articulation that this could really have a significant positive impact on improving clinical outcomes of light curable dental materials,” he said. “Light homogeneity will become even more important as we continue to evolve towards bulk-curing materials.”
The 3M team recognized the importance of the product and clinical opportunity. Oxman says the approximate time frame from the idea to the actual product launch was only about a year and a half.
“It was extremely fast for such a significant product advancement,” he said. “Being able to define the opportunity and need and assembling an outstanding team of scientists from our labs in Germany and St. Paul that could then translate that into a solution … it was pretty amazing and rewarding. They understood what the needs were, and they were able to explore a variety of technical options that led to a creative solution and implement it very quickly.”
The clinical feedback has been great.
“One of the things we do extremely well at 3M is engaging clinicians and opinion leaders when we’re incubating and developing products,” Oxman said. “In this case we identified and recognized the opportunity, created a concept, demonstrated feasibility, then developed and evaluated several prototypes with customers and then launched the product. Response in the market has been very favorable. We’ve received very positive feedback from opinion leaders and other light curing experts that have collectively said we really hit this one right on target. When you get that kind of unsolicited feedback, it’s quite satisfying.”
The lights are intended for curing any and all light curable dental materials independent of the restorative. The DeepCure lights work with all dental composites whether it’s a bulk fill or incrementally placed, he said.
“When we designed the light, the team wanted to ensure it could be used by all practitioners for all materials and all indications,” he said. “The DeepCure is somewhat unique compared to most of the lights available due to its focused beam profile and homogeneity. We’re pretty proud of that.”
Following the IADR meeting, many of the same researchers came together at an international symposium at Dalhousie University with an objective to establish successful clinical strategies for light curing in today’s world. One of the key takeaways was a consensus statement listing nine simple actionable items clinicians can do to provide a better clinical outcome. The list includes choosing a high quality light, ensuring the light has adequate light output, cleaning the light guide periodically, calibrating the light for optimized output, wearing eye protection, watching and stabilizing the light to make sure it is actually placed close to and over the material, curing the composite for the recommended time based on the composite manufacturer, when dealing with darker, more opaque shades, being aware that it may take longer and, finally, not undercuring.
In his long career, Oxman is proud of his many collaborative accomplishments and helping to develop customer desired solutions that help clinicians provide better clinical outcomes.