November/December 2007, Volume 3, Issue 10
Published by AEGIS Communications
St. Paul, Minnesota
Jeff Lavers, Division Vice President
QUESTION NO. 1
Inside Dentistry (ID): The dental industry and the oral healthcare arena have been changing rapidly within the past 5 to 10 years. What do you see as the most significant of those changes?
Jeff Lavers (JL): I agree, the industry has changed significantly during the last 5 to 10 years. The industry is consistently being challenged by the ever-increasing demand for professional dentistry in a variety of areas. First, the population as a whole is aging and there is increasing importance on overall systemic health and its relationship to dental health. Second, the demand on dental professionals’ time is increasing. There are not more hours in the day, yet they are being asked to deliver a higher level of productivity than ever before. This requires faster, better, easier solutions to meet their challenges. Add to that the consumer’s demand for esthetic solutions, even in the era of a changing healthcare system in which more patients are required to self-pay. This has resulted in a trend toward more direct and indirect restorations, even with more private spending for high-quality dental treatment. Couple that with the benefits of improved results and increased productivity that digital technology offers and you have consumers who are willing to pay for the very best with demands for quicker, easier, and better products by both professionals and consumers alike.
QUESTION NO. 2
ID: In what ways—both internally and in dealing with the broader oral healthcare marketplace—has your company responded to these changes?
JL: 3M ESPE has a long-standing history built on innovation. In its 100-year history, 3M as a whole has developed more than 50,000 products with more than 100 new products added each and every year. Significantly, these products are derived from more than 40 technology platforms within the company. To achieve this, 3M invests approximately $1.5 billion in research and development every year.
Specifically, to help our customers improve the practice, delivery, and outcome of patient care within the dental category, we have acquired and developed technologies in specific areas which are setting new standards in the dental industry. From acquisitions in digital technologies and the preventive care arena, to introductions of groundbreaking new products like Protemp Crown Temporization Material and Filtek LS Low Shrink Composite, 3M ESPE is always responding to market trends and the needs of its customers.
QUESTION NO. 3
ID: What do you see as your biggest responsibility to the marketplace, and why does your choice rank as your #1 priority?
JL: It is critically important that we continue to support the industry, not only through developing products that meet the needs of our professional audience, but through education and an ongoing conversation with our customers. We are driven by ingenuity and a desire to solve customer problems, and we have a rich history of business excellence and innovations in dental materials and delivery systems. Through strong, forward-thinking research and development programs, we have earned a reputation for quality and reliability in the products and services we offer the dental profession worldwide. We are proud of the fact that we are a company that is trusted and recognized for setting the standards of success when it comes to groundbreaking ideas, exceeding customer expectations and continued adherence to the highest standard of business ethics. This is something we will continue to strive for each and every day.
QUESTION NO. 4
ID: What product categories—whether preventive, restorative, operative, auxiliary, diagnostic, etc—do you feel are most in need of innovation based on what’s currently available?
JL: We believe all areas of dentistry require continuous innovation. This is why we focus on applying our unique research and development expertise to our customers’ problems across many categories. For example, we are strengthening our preventive portfolio by putting the 3M research and development engine behind the OMNI Preventive Care acquisition and our existing Clinpro products. Our goal in the laboratory and digital market is working toward the premier restoration through integration of material science and digital technology—Lava Precision Solutions integrates material science and digital technology, providing an end-to-end digital workflow solution. Filtek Supreme Plus Universal Restorative continues to be the leading composite, and is now joined by a unique glass-ionomer restorative—Ketac Nano Light Curing Glass Ionomer Restorative. The confidence-inspiring features of one of our newest adhesives, Scotchbond SE Self-Etch Adhesive, brings a 25-year history in adhesives to the forefront of the industry with innovative features such as its color-change technology.
QUESTION NO. 5
ID: What do you see as the best approach to the research, development, testing, and ultimate delivery to the market of such needed advancements?
JL: We feel the best approach is a collaborative one. We meet challenges with our customers. Meaning that, philosophically, we believe that learning goes both ways, which allows us to learn about our customers’ challenges directly from them, and together we can discover the correct solution. For example, we collaborate with a worldwide network of opinion leaders and dental professionals to continue to learn about what customers really need to improve their practices. Using this customer input, our company looks into its research and development “candy store” of technologies to deliver solutions that set new standards in this industry. This collaborative approach was used in the development and testing of products like Filtek Supreme universal restorative which helped to ensure that the product was “right” before it was launched.
Behind this effort to develop solutions with our customers, we leverage rigorous testing using world-class manufacturing processes and the highest standards of business conduct to develop a product that lives up to its promise for our customers. A testament to this rigorous commitment to quality is 3M ESPE being recognized with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award—the only dental products manufacturer to ever win such an award.
QUESTION NO. 6
ID: There are many challenges facing dentistry and oral healthcare today. How is your company helping to resolve them?
JL: Again, the days are not getting longer and the workload dental professionals are asked to shoulder is a huge commitment. At the end of the day, 3M ESPE is hoping to match that commitment by helping to make it easier for our customers to do more, do it faster, and do it better.
Broad-based research and development, education, and an uncompromising approach to quality are at the heart of 3M ESPE’s commitment to its customers and the worldwide dental community. At 3M ESPE, we believe that we are in partnership with our customers, working in collaboration with them to define the future. Together, we believe we can transform the practice of dentistry. We firmly believe that we need to help our customers succeed; it is the driving force of who we are as a company. Our recent investments in preventive and digital areas, combined with our internal research and development capacity and capability, will enable us to keep bringing practical and ingenious solutions to our customers well into the future.