Chief Dental Editor and Technology Editor John Flucke, DDS, reviews his favorite dental product test drives of 2022, and shares what he is looking forward to in 2023.
It’s that time of year again. This is one of my favorite articles to write and, from the emails and messages I receive, it appears that many of you enjoy it as well. As chief dental editor and technology editor of Dental Products Report®, I get incredible opportunities to see and use lots of up-and-coming devices and techniques every year. Then, in December, I get to tell all of you about my 5 favorites from this year’s crop of Test Drives. Let’s get to it.
This year I decided to add a new mill to the office technology mix. My choice was the DGSHAPE DWX-42W from Roland DGA. Although the company is new to the dental practice side, it has been a major player in the lab space for well over a decade. Ask anyone who knows the dental lab business and they will tell you Roland DGA makes incredibly precise, durable mills. They are well known for their maximum uptime, and the prostheses they create are amazing.
Because the device utilizes “open architecture,” it allows us to take scans from one of our iTero units, design them in exocad software, and send them to the mill with all those components working together seamlessly. To you, the reader, that means this mill will easily connect to any digital impression system on the market as well as any dental digital design software. Whether you want to accomplish same-day dentistry or simply want to control more of your output and cut your costs, the DWX-42W can help you accomplish those goals.
The combination of high-resolution surgical telescopes with a light that provides illumination everywhere you look is something none of us want to be without. The biggest downside was always the light because of the necessary battery pack and the cord from that battery to the light. Some companies have attempted to solve that problem with cordless lights; however, no one has done so elegant a job of that as Orascoptic did with its new light and loupe system called Dragonfly.
The frame does not have folding arms, which means it doesn’t flex. When you use the system, it fits securely on your face with no effort required to get it comfortable. I have always been a fan of bright lighting and the company has stepped it up in that area, providing its TruColor LED lamp with settings of 78 and 49 lumens that can be switched with the push of a button.
The batteries are in the arms of the glasses, and I can work all day on a single charge.
For years, I have used countertop warmers to preheat my composite prior to placement. The only drawback to countertop warmers is that the moment you take the composite off the warmer, it begins to cool. That problem is solved by AdDent’s new Compex HD heated composite dispenser.
The “gun” device allows the user to snap a cartridge into the barrel; a heater in the barrel quickly brings the cartridge to the desired temperature. This warming process takes about 30 seconds. The device extrudes the composite easily and has an “eject” button that makes switching cartridges quick and simple.
The device operates on a rechargeable battery. I also love the fact that the unit has an “auto shutoff” feature that turns the unit off after 10 minutes.
As good as the device is now, the company has told me about some amazing improvements they will be making to the device in the very near future. The upgraded device may be available by the time you read this, but if not, soon thereafter. AdDent is a company that makes amazing products and this is just one more reason I am such a fan.
Over the past 5 years, I have worked on helping several companies with dental AI software. I have looked at thousands of radiographs and then viewed them again after the computer analysis has been done. I was quickly enamored with the entire genre of machine learning.
Then I saw Pearl. Once installed in your office, the Pearl Second Opinion system combs through your existing patient radiographs and runs its algorithm on them, looking for pathologies such as caries, calculus, periapical radiolucencies, and bone loss.
The system also runs its algorithm every time you take a radiograph and shows you what it sees in near real time.
What the system does is provide more data to allow the doctor to make better decisions. I am also impressed that Pearl is the only company in this space that is not trying to sell to doctors and the insurance industry. Pearl is for dentists only.
Second Opinion is the most powerful clinical AI software that the United States Food and Drug Administration has deemed safe and effective as a chairside disease detection aid for dentists.
WhipMix was founded as a company that made products for the lost-wax technique, but rather than continuing to follow the path that got them here, the company pivoted along with the profession. Its answer is the VeriONE System, composed of digital impression scanners, 3D printers, 3D model postprint curing devices, and postprint model washers.
Rather than the doctor contacting multiple companies to buy the individual components, you can call WhipMix and get everything from a coordinated, stable manufacturing source. The company has created a 1-stop turnkey system for doing 3D lab work. If you have any problems, you only have 1 company to deal with. Every piece of the system works well.
Earlier this year I wrote an article about what I would consider if buying a truly safe and wearable personal respirator. I was then contacted by CleanSpace. They were more than happy to provide me with a demo unit of their CleanSpace HALO product line and then trained me on its use.
It is comfortable even when I was wearing my surgical telescopes. Fans in the system scrub the air through filters as you breathe, and they maintain a positive air pressure by speeding or slowing air intake. As you inhale, the fans speed up to increase pressure and when you exhale, the fans slow down to decrease the pressure. I can say I have never felt safer from airborne pathogens than when I was wearing the CleanSpace HALO.
2022 has been an amazing year for new products. This year was one of my more difficult Top 5 Test Drives to write, simply because there were so many new products I was really impressed with. I think one of the best things about our profession is the almost constant pace of innovation. I think we are approaching an incredible “next phase” of our profession.
I think this next phase will build upon the constant growth of 3D in the profession. We can already merge digital impressions into CBCT data sets, and this will lead to a constantly updated 3D patient record. That will combine with the almost unfathomable abilities of AI platforms to create, not only being able to “hold a patient’s head in the palm of your hand” but to also be better informed with objective third-party data on potential pathologies. Imagine a patient with a large edentulous space. You are virtually treatment planning 2 implants and being told “occlusal forces are calculated to be X on 2 implants and Y on 3 implants,” which will allow you to treatment plan with a more favorable clinical outcome.
That scenario is much closer to reality than you might think. Buckle up. The ride is going to get much more exciting.