If a giant blood vessel, Irish step dancing, steel drums, and bargain basement deals on toothbrushes weren't enough to attract conventioneers to the exhibit floor at the Yankee Dental Congress 33, there was Thursday's free lunch. But none of these are the true reason that God created dental product exhibits, so DrBicuspid took a stroll down the colorful aisles to see what was new this year.
You couldn't go too far on the black-carpeted floor before learning about some big potential disruption in the CAD/CAM market. For 22 years Sirona's Cerec has stood alone as the only machine for three-dimensional modeling and milling restorations in a dentist's office. Now it no longer has the field to itself. Upstart D4D Technologies was on the floor flogging its rival machine, the E4D. D4D has attracted investors including such established players as Henry Schein, which hosted the D4D booth.
|E4E CAD/CAM machine|
So how do the two machines stack up? D4D rep Mark Eversold claims the E4D can photograph teeth from more angles and offers a simpler interface than Cerec. Most dentists won't trust the modeling to their assistants because the Cerec is too hard to use, he says. Compared to the E4D, "there is a lot more to horse around with," he says. (Cerec reps had no retort, saying they have yet to see the E4D in action.) But Ebersold confesses that the E4D is perhaps 10 percent slower in milling time; Cerec's latest model, the MC XL, can spit out a restoration in as few as four minutes, according to the company Web site. The Cerec is also cheaper -- $103,000 versus $116,000 for the E4D.
At the Align booth, we heard about the coming Invisalign Teen aimed at the teenage market. While standard Invisalign products are already used in teenagers, the teen product comes with an aligner wear indicator so dentists can tell whether the patients are using them as directed. The deal also includes three free replacement aligners in case the expensive hardware goes missing during a wild teen escapade. Further details weren't available as the product has yet to hit the market, although the company expects to roll it out sometime this year.
Further on down the aisle, we found Discus Dental touting its new DayWhite ACP 38 percent bleach. That "38 percent" refers to the concentration of carbamide peroxide, quite possibly the highest concentration of any home use bleaching product by a major manufacturer.
|DayWhite ACP 38|
The advantage is that it's faster. Used twice a day for half an hour, good results can be had in as few as four days, says company rep Eric Relyea. Will all that peroxide dissolve your teeth? Relyea shakes his head vigorously. The "ACP" in the product's name refers to amorphous calcium phosphate (the formula developed by the American Dental Association) which has been shown in some applications to restore enamel.
|Zoom whitening pen|
Cost to the consumer is about $150, he says, and the cost to the dentist varies widely depending on the package purchased. Discus was also showing off its new Zoom whitening pen, which can be used to touch up small spots that have lost color.
Technology Learning Center
Formerly known as the Dental Chair Potato, Seltzer Institute's setup features a video monitor and lights on the same fixture. The fixture slides on a track so it can be positioned over the patient's face. It will display Shrek, the National Football League, Desperate Housewives, or anything else that will distract your patients from what you're doing in their mouths. Alternatively, you can show them an X-ray or photograph on the same screen if there's something you'd like to explain. It's yours for $6,700.
Technology alone won't bring in the dental patients, of course, and so Ed Littell, the Sky Man, was promoting his Sky-Scapes. For just $38.95 you can cover up your ugly fluorescent ceiling fixtures with transparent sheets of plastic painted with bright scenes of puffy clouds against a blue sky. Multiple variations include birds, planes, and other aerial scenery -- as well as fish for those who prefer a submarine fantasy. How long do these Sky-Scapes last? As few as four years, Littell admitted. That's when he pulled out his latest product -- Durastrong sheets made from the same material used in bullet proof glass. These should last a decade or more. So far, Durastrong is only available in a Simpsons cartoon character design, but the full line of Sky-Scapes designs is coming soon on this material.
DrBicuspid.com's Most Futuristic Technology award of the year goes to Babytooth Technologies which is selling a product that can't be used this year. Or next year. Or, most likely, for a few years after that. For $1,200 the company will give you a vial of specially prepared fluid into which you can put a deciduous tooth. Ship the tooth overnight to this Vermont company and it will set about culturing the mesenchymal stem cells in the pulp. Soon your patient can call on a store of some three million such cells available for repair of periodontal defects (maybe), cleft palates (perhaps), or such diverse conditions as Parkinson's disease and myocardial infarction (possibly). None of this has been proven to work -- all the experiments have been in animals so far. Still, it will appeal to the same folks who have had stem cells from umbilical cords preserved, says Nicholas Perotta, D.M.D., director of dental science.
What will they think of next? We don't know, but we'll be there to find out!