Englewood, New Jersey
Larry Katz, FIADFE, President, Zenith Dental
Exclusive US and Canadian distributors of DMG restorative materialsExclusive US distributor of Micrylium Infection Control products
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?
Larry Katz (LK): There are a number of significant changes taking place in our industry. The growing emphasis on infection control is an obvious focus. Virtually every trade publication carries an article on the awareness of potential dangers to patients and staff. The formation of the Organization for Safety and Asepsis Procedures (OSAP) in 1984 is a key indicator as to how important infection control has become within the dental community. OSAP focuses on awareness, education, and prevention. Their efforts have created an awareness, which creates a demand for manufacturers to develop materials which address the issues of proper protection from bacteria and diseases within the dental practice.
Another dynamic change is in the relationship of dentistry to esthetics versus the previous correlation of dentistry to pain. During the past decade, esthetic dentistry has become more accepted and desired by the public. More and more teaching facilities have been established with the goal to educate the general practitioner with hands-on courses on esthetic restorations, smile enhancement, anterior esthetics, composite bonding, etc. This new mindset mandates that manufacturers develop products that are technologically advanced, whether it is in restorative materials, equipment, and/or software.
Also, possibly most importantly, is the emphasis of patient education. The medical community has done a good job in teaching the patient to become proactive in their care. We are starting to see this in dentistry. The new technology with regard to smile design, computer imaging, and the array of available materials promote patient involvement and understanding of their dental/oral health needs and care.
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?
LK: Zenith has earned a reputation for introducing unique quality materials into the US and Canadian marketplace. Our partnership with DMG as a manufacturer of superior restorative materials has been interactive in that both companies are always looking at the future possibilities in product development. DMG’s research and development as well as Zenith’s insight and marketing talents within the United States and Canada has resulted in successfully achieving our goals of offering products with outstanding esthetics, ease of use, and long-term efficacy. Products such as Luxatemp® and Vitique® help make the dentist a “better artist.” The dentist is able to achieve a natural reflective quality to their provisionals as well as better colorization of their veneers.
Zenith has also met the challenge in the infection control arena. In the fall of 2004, Zenith Dental partnered with Micrylium Laboratories, Inc (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), manufacturers of people- and environmentally safe infection control products. Together we are working on a product line that is very exciting. We have the privilege of presenting products that are phenol-free, aerosol- and chlorine-free, have no cancer causing properties, and have a fast bacterial kill time of less than 1 minute. Product launches are planned in the course of this year.
Question No. 3
ID: What do you see as your biggest responsibility to the marketplace, and why does your choice rank as your No.1 priority?
LK: It is not simple to break down what we perceive as our biggest responsibility to the marketplace. I have 2 answers, both of which are equally important—efficacy and education. Efficacy is incorporated into our mission statement, specifically that Zenith Dental is pledged to provide quality products to our customers. We take the word “quality” very seriously and feel we are under an obligation to the dental practice to provide materials that work the first time and every time. Plus, these products must achieve the highest expectations for their use. Our educational responsibility is also our biggest priority, both internally and externally. At Zenith Dental we believe it is very important to be aware of the trends in our industry. We maintain close relationships with key influencers, academics, and general practice dentists to learn about cutting-edge techniques and new product ideas. We strive to identify the current issues and problems associated with various materials and work to develop materials that enhance efficiency, productivity, economy, esthetics, safety, etc. External education is also as important as internal. Zenith is very active in the support of hands-on programs, lectures, study clubs, lunch and learns, as well as any venue through which we have the opportunity toeducate about our products and their impact on excellent dentistry.
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?
LK: I think the most simplistic answer regarding innovations (especially because of the high-tech equipment and software currently hitting the market) is restorative composites. With regard to the performance of composites—especially posterior composites—I believe we have more work to do. As I said earlier, esthetic dentistry is in high demand. And not just for anterior teeth. Today the entire smile—anterior to posterior—is being esthetically restored. Composites are more esthetic then the traditional alternatives. However, if you read the literature you see that wear rates for contemporary posterior composite materials are unacceptable. When occlusal wear takes place, the potential for additional problems such as enamel wearand the possibility of overeruption of the opposing tooth can occur. Another important concern is microleakage resulting from shrinkage during the polymerization process. Composites are certainly better looking, but what risk are we taking by exposing the tooth to microleakage?
In addition, composite materials are technique sensitive. The clinician must ensure the pulp is protected, and then place the composite material incrementally by building layers in an effort to minimize polymerization shrinkage during the light-curing process. Layering is more time consuming and shrinkage is the nature of the beast. We need to develop a new generation of material that addresses these issues. Our goal is wearability and longevity. I believe if we can succeed in addressing these problems, it will truly be a welcome innovation in dentistry.
Question No. 5
ID: There are many challenges facing dentistry and oral healthcare today. How is your company helping to resolve them?
LK: Poverty is probably one of the most insidious challenges to oral healthcare and dentistry. We know there is a large population base that does not have medical insurance. We read about this everyday in our newspapers. It is obviousto assume that those without medicalinsurance have no dental coverage, and that when push comes to shove, medical needs take priority over dental care. This problem reaches into areas of the middle class where minimal medical coverage is available but dental insurance is unaffordable and unobtainable. We work with organizations that are dedicated to the same concerns. Zenith is a charter underwriter to The National Children’s Dental Foundation, a recently created foundation that is dedicated to eliminate dental disease and promote overall health through hands-on dental care and education. We also donate materials to nonprofit dental care missions with programs in Vietnam, Africa, and even on our Native American Reservations. Zenith Dental also participates in the annual American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry’s “Give Back A Smile” fundraiser to help people who have suffered damage to or lost their smiles because of domestic violence. We are also longtime sponsors of the National Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped (NFDH). Our contributions along with other manufacturers make dental care available to individuals through donated dental services programs throughout the United States. Zenith Dental is not unique in their outreach efforts. Many organizations and manufacturers share our concern and efforts in trying to increase the quality of life of those less able to have access or less able to afford quality dental care.