Mid-West Spring Technical Meeting 2011

8 04 2011

The Association of Indiana Dental Laboratories welcomed the industry to Indianapolis and treated them to a top flight selection of speakers and bustling exhibit hall during the annual Mid-West Spring Technical Meeting. The event put the educational focus on both the technical and business sides of running a lab, while also providing some vibrant discussions of the state of the dental laboratory industry and the value of certification of technicians and labs.

For the opening session a panel made up of Foundation for Dental Laboratory Technology Chair R.J. DeLapa, CDT; NADL Executive Director Bennett Napier; financial advisor Chuck Yenkner; and Mark Jackson, RDT, from Precision Ceramics Dental Laboratory. DeLapa opened by discussing the Foundation’s efforts to create more educational opportunities in the industry. Next up Jackson explained how identifying failures and fixing their causes has been a key to his lab’s success, and if the DAMAS processes he uses were more widely adopted could help the industry to thrive. Napier then laid out some statistics about the industry including the fact that 60% of the 10,000 American dental labs are single technician operations. Finally Yenkner said that technology, worldwide competition and the current economic environment are the biggest change agents moving through the industry. The session then turned into an open discussion with questions about how technicians can increase the value and return on earning and maintaining a CDT certification. Napier said dentists are starting to understand the value in of working with a certified technician, but they largely still do not understand that certification is not required before someone can work as a technician. Yenkner added that there is value in the knowledge gained through formal training and education and it will help technicians remain valuable as the industry continued to change.

“You get paid more for what’s in your head than what you can do with your hands,” he said.

Throughout the morning and the afternoon sessions, attendees had the chance to hear presentations on CAD/CAM, dentures, lab management and technician training. The intimate settings for most of the presentations gave the sessions a somewhat informal feeling, and allowed the presenters to interact with the audiences to create some dynamic discussions. Yenkner used his time really explain the details of tracking production costs, Jackson explained his lab’s inspiration for adopting Good Manufacturer Practices and the benefits they have brought back, and DLP Benchtop Editor Tom Zaleske examined a variety of ways to add value and precision to denture cases. A mid-day fiesta theme brought some extra life to the exhibit hall and the evening wine and cheese reception also made it easy to get lost in conversation throughout the room. The truly showcased the connections between the people in the lab industry and provided a great forum for more of those connections to be forged.

Hinman Dental Meeting Day Two

25 03 2011

Packed lecture halls and full hands-on courses were the norm as things got even busier during the second day of the 99th annual Thomas P. Hinman Dental Meeting in Atlanta. The mix of topics continued to span the dental team with sessions aimed at providing intricate technique details for clinicians, business tips for running the practice, lifestyle tips for everyone and even a course on how humor can be helpful in a practice.

In his session on implant overdentures, Dr. Joseph Massad engaged in a lively discussion with the attendees about his techniques for properly capturing the impression of both edentulous, partially-edentualous and post-surgical implant patients. He stressed that obtaining the correct impression was important for optimal outcomes and showed how to use a firm impression material as a quick way to generate a custom impression tray. Between videos of his techniques, Dr. Massad paused his lecture to answer questions from the audience and stressed the importance of communicating every detail of a case to the lab so the implant-retained restorations will fit the implants perfectly.

While that session was a lively lecture, the real action at the Hinman Meeting was going on in the numerous hands-on courses. Clinicians interested in improving their photography skills had the chance to test out dental photography with digital SLR cameras during a session led by Dr. Martin Goldstein. While that sesssion gave a small number of attendees hands on opportunities, his lecture later in the day filled a hall with an audience eager to learn about how digital photography can help build a practice. Dr. Goldstein explained that digital images are ideal because they can be easily stored, edited, shared with colleagues and used in a variety of ways, including to show patients simulated results of cosmetic treatments.

“When I’m talking about cosmetics with a patient, the days of handing them a mirror are over,” he said.

The massive exhibit hall at the Hinman Meeting was filled with dental companies big and small showing off their latest products, but the room was set up to offer much more. Five classrooms around the edges of the room featured hands-on courses, and windows around the room attracted people not in the classes to stop and take a peak in. Dr. Alfred Wyatt, Jr. led a session on lasers that gave participants 15 minutes to test out a laser from one company before switching tables so they could try a different model. Lasers from KaVo, Sirona, AMD Lasers, Biolase, DenMat, Discus, Ivoclar Vivadent, Lares Research, Millenium Dental Sytsems and GPT dental were on hand. Dr. Wyatt said this was one of the best ways for clinicians interested in adding a laser to find the one that would meet their needs and an opportunity he wished he could have taken advantage of back before he purchased his first laser.

Another hands on course drawing packed crowds was a series of sessions on preventive maintenance for dental equipment and technology. This session featured a series of small rooms each with a different type of equipment on display. The dentists and staff taking part in the trainings shifted rooms every so often while learning about caring for small equipment such as handpieces; treatment room equipment and delivery systems; mechanical systems; sterilization equipment; and x-ray equipment.

Another popular area off to the side of the trade show floor was the hands-on new products workshop featuring 18 products selected by Dr. Joseph Blaes, who chose items he felt were innovative and could be helpful to a practice. On display was VOCO America’s GrandioSO; GC America’s G-aenial; DENTSPLY Midwest’s ATC handpiece; Dux Dental’s Bib EZE; AMD Lasers’ Picaso; SciCan’s OPTIM 33 wipes; LED Dental’s VELScope VX; Philips Sonicare toothbrushes; Brasseler USA’s ET 3000; Bein Air’s Optima; CAESY 10 patient education; Discus Dental’s Zen cordless prophy; Premier Dental’s Traxodent; CarieScan; GoldenMisch’s Physics Forceps; Pelton & Crane’s Helios light and Septodont’s Biodentine.

Back in the classrooms, Dr. David Meinz was entertaining and packed house with a presentation about the keys to living a long life. He showed clips from news coverage of centenarians and explained the common factors leading to long and healthy lives, including mental and emotional engagement, friendship, eating healthy foods, exercise and activity. He explained that these lessons were things clinicians can take back to both their personal and professional lives by working messages about healthy living into their communications with patients.

“You can be in the health promotion business. It doesn’t have to take you any time at all to do that,” he said.

In a far less upbeat, but no less interesting presentation, Dr. Anthony Cardoza spoke about the roll dental professionals can play in dealing with a the health response to a major disaster or terror attack. Thus far Illinois and California have passed laws allowing such participation and Congress has a law on the topic through the House and on to the Senate. Dr. Cardoza said dentists, hygienists and dental assistants could all be vital parts of their community’s response by helping to triage patients, administer vaccinations and in other tasks, all with minimal training. While dentist may often be overlooked by other medical professionals, Dr. Cardoza said they could be of great importance during a disaster response and thus should be ready to put their skills and training to use.

Stepping away from the non-stop practice management software trainings she was presenting throughout the weekend, consultant Laci Phillips gave a Friday afternoon presentation about office technology and how it can help a dental practice be more efficient. With a nice dose of humor and back and forth with her audience, Phillips explained the value of e-services that can automatically verify patient insurance details, as well as recommended several scanners to help practices convert paper files to digital formats. She said practices will all be paperless eventually, but she does not believe the federal mandate will be the impetus for the change.

“What I do see is state laws and insurance companies taking us there,” she said.

As the second day of the meeting wound down, the social events around the education were getting ready to pick up. The final day of the event on Saturday was planned with plenty more interesting speakers and a few interesting touches such as a reception with food and drinks on the trade show floor Saturday afternoon, and even organizers said they were excited about how the 2011 Hinman Meeting has been going.

99th Thomas P. Hinman Dental Meeting gets underway

24 03 2011

With a focus on continuing education for all members of the dental team, the 99th Thomas P. Hinman Dental Meeting got underway today in Atlanta. The three-day event was expecting 23,00 dental professionals to attend for the opportunity to sit in on hands on courses, lectures and walk the trade show floor, and judging by the first day, the education was the main attraction.

It was standing room only for an early morning presentation from Clinician’s Report founder Dr. Gordon Christensen who covered material choices for a variety of clinical indications. His engaging speaking style kept the crowd engaged, and he picked up quickly with his slides after pausing for questions from the crowd. As always, Dr. Christensen spoke about the importance of looking to the science behind dental materials rather than the marketing when making clinical choices.

“We’ve gone from professionalism to business,” he lamented when noting that many clinicians would prefer to extract a tooth and replace it with an implant rather than promote less invasive options that might save the tooth.

When it came to simple restorations, he recommended 3M ESPE’s Ketac Nano and GC America’s Fuji II LC. Dr. Christensen went on to point out the critical importance of preventive care and an active hygiene department that puts varnish and even at home fluoride treatment to use, and he previewed an ongoing study about remineralization that is still a year away from publication, but is not returning encouraging results. “We’re not finding any remineralization product that works all the way at this point,” he said before saying 3M ESPE’s Clinpro 5000 is working better than the rest thus far.

While lectures such as Dr. Christensen’s gave clinicians a chance to catch up on the latest trends and techniques in the industry, the Hinman meeting also provided a range of hands-on opportunities that allowed attendees to learn the best ways to use various products first hand. Consultant Laci Phillips presented a workshop on practice management software with a room full of computers to give attendees the chance to test out the latest offerings from Carestream, Curve Dental, Dentrix and Eaglesoft. Participants were guided through various regular tasks accomplished with the software while Phillips provided useful tips for getting the most out of the systems. Every so often the participants traded seats, allowing each of them to have some first-hand experience with each of the different systems.

During his presentation on hot topics in dentistry, Dr. Louis Malcmacher shared his views on the advantages of offering esthetic treatments such as botox injections and dermal fillers in dental settings. He presented the techniques for the treatments and explained how in certain situations they can provide both functional and esthetic results. He said dentists are the health care professionals best equipped to provide total facial esthetics because they know the anatomy of the area and are the only clinicians with an understanding of intraoral esthetics.

Many of the presentations covered practice building concepts as well as clinical techniques. An afternoon session led by Scottsdale Center for Dentistry founder Imtiaz Manji focused on how clinicians need to be ready to keep up with the changing way patients communicate. He stressed the importance of staying up with the technology curve and using new technologies and new communication techniques to reach patients. He said patients need to be shown the value of dentistry and the first step to doing that is communicating with them the ways they communicate with each other.

“if we’re going to stay in practice, we’re not going to communicate with our patients via their home phone, it will be their cell phone, and we wont be calling, it will be with texts,” he said.

Manji explained that an online presence is about engaging with patients the way they engage with each other and social media such as Facebook can be a huge practice builder because it allows patients to be the gatekeepers to a practice because their praise in these online social arenas is far more effective than advertising.

Other sessions focused on hot topics in the hygiene and dental assisting worlds, as well as the technologies changing the way dentists practice. Two more days of education and demonstrations are on tap in Atlanta as the 99th Hinman Meeting continues into the weekend.

CareerFusion continues in Florida

9 01 2011

During the 4.5 days of learning and networking that CareerFusion offers, hygienists will learn about a lot of great new products and will have a lot of great ideas they’re excited about incorporating into their practices. Angie Stone, RDH, BS, told them how to get their doctors on board.

After Shirley Gutkowski , RDH, BSDH, FACE, kicked off Sunday morning with a talk about the experiences that got her where she is today, Stone, who is the editor in chief of Hygiene Tribune, continued the morning with a talk about proposal writing. Stone talked to attendees about what should go into a proposal and gave an example of a proposal she submitted to her doctor.

Before you can write a proposal, you need to know what you want to change or incorporate, why you want to do it, how it’s going to be done and who’s going to do it, she said. Proposals should be short and to the point, with a clear, specific message.

After Stone’s talk, the group split up into Mac and PC users for a tutorial. The day continued with more table talks and more opportunities for learning.

It all starts here

8 01 2011

Dreams. Friendship. Memories.

That was the theme to this year’s Tournament of Roses parade, and is a theme that Fran Pangakis, RDH, CPVC, said perfectly fits CareerFusion.

Pangakis spoke at Saturday morning’s session about the importance of dreams, friendship and memories.  Without dreams, nothing would change. Dreams are the reason attendess made the trip to be part of CareerFusion.

The friendships made at CareerFusion last after you leave, Pangakis said, and support and connections made through those friendships will help attendees achieve those dreams they came with. The connections attendees make at CareerFusion likely will lead them to that next opportunity. She encouraged everyone to make a point of talking to every person in the room, because you really don’t know who you’re going to meet and where a conversation might lead. And the memories you make are yours to take with you, and something that everyone will cherish.

Pangakis also talked about crossing the line to get from where you are to where you really want to be. There are challenges, but you have to choose to commit, to work hard, to focus and to be resilient.

The day continued with another talk from Pangakis and Tim Twigg, Owner and President of Bent Ericksen & Associates. The pair talked about the importance of being truly engaged in your work and what it really takes to build a successful team.

“It’s not just being there physically, it’s being there,” Twigg said. “Bring your whole self, your whole capabilities to whatever it is you’re doing.”

They also talked about the importance of understanding and harvesting the power of emotions. They gave group members advice on how to increase their EQ (emotional IQ), from taking responsibility of their own emotions and happiness to examining their feelings rather than the actions and motives of other people.

The day concluded with a cocktail party, where attendees had the chance to make the all-important connections and friendships that they will carry with them long after they leave Daytona.

CareerFusion 2011 kicks off in Florida

8 01 2011

These dental hygienists are here to set themselves apart. They’re here to become leaders, to grow both personally and professionally. That’s what CareerFusion is all about.

This year’s attendees, some new and some returning for the fourth time, gathered Saturday morning in Daytona Beach, Fla. to network, to learn how to step out of their comfort zones and to be introduced to opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Beth Thompson, RDH, BS, FACE, kicked off the 4.5 day event and reminded attendees why they’re there. It’s about creating a relaxed, supportive environment that fosters growth, whether attendees are looking to start doing more speaking engagements, writing more or are ready to do something outside of clinical hygiene.

Throughout the week, attendees will have plenty of time to form new friendships and to network. Through table top exercises, they’ll have the opportunity to learn more about the product offerings from this year’s corporate partners, which includes Coltene Whaledent, DentalVibe, Springstone Patient Financing, The Art of Practice Management, Cetylite Industries, Xlear, Orascoptic, DSM Worldwide, Crosstex International and Bent Ericksen & Associates

Zahn Expo 2010 Day Two

23 10 2010

The energy level was sky high for the early start to the second and final day of Zahn Expo 2010 at the Marriott in Santa Clara, Calif., as keynote speaker Mark Murphy, DDS, took charge with an entertaining presentation about marketing labs in the ever more digital dental landscape. His presentation kicked off a day that moved from the hands on first day to a more conversational and educational focus.

Dr. Mark Murphy speaks during the Zahn Expo

Dr. Mark Murphy delivers his keynote presentation during the Zahn Expo 2010.

Dr. Murphy, who serves as lead faculty for Mercer Advisors and consults to dental labs with his own Funktional Consulting after a career in dental practice and then in management of the DTI dental lab group, explained that marketing as a digital lab is really not all that different from marketing a traditional lab.

“It’s about the relationship, that’s what you’ve got to own,” he said.

While he focused his presentation on the ways dental labs can work to provide better service and stronger connections to dental clients, Dr. Murphy explained that digital impression technology is approaching a tipping point, and labs need to be ready to handle work that begins digitally. But whether or not a lab is digital, lab owners need to make their decisions based on sound business principles rather than gut feelings or slashing prices to stay less expensive than the next guy.

Rather labs need to decide what type of service they want to provide, what type of customers they need to be serving and then they need to work hard for their existing dentist customers rather than always looking for new accounts. He provided concrete steps to strengthening relationships with clients and stressed the importance of showing dentists what goes on in the lab so they understand everything that goes on when they send out a case.

“The crown has to be good, but it’s not about the crown, it’s about the experience,” he said.

Sessions then split up and former DLP editor Pam Johnson spoke to a smaller, but still crowded room about trends moving through the dental lab industry and how they could impact labs. While things started slowly, and a bit dry with all the numbers and charts on her slides, the lecture opened up and turned into a freeflowing discussion about issues such as the need for more definition in the educational requirements for lab technicians, worldwide standards for dental lab work and the growing impact of offshore competition and digital workflows.

Attendees including DLP contributor Peter Pizzi, CDT posed questions and shared personal experiences of lab quality and technician education overseas, as well as discussed the ways their labs were doing some offshoring of their workload or competing with labs offering dentists cheaper offshore options while trying to keep everything in house. No conclusions may have been reached, but the discussion felt productive and comprehensive.

In a Saturday session titled “Removeable Prosthetics: Practical Fabrication Tips, Techniques, and Products.” Thomas Zaleske, AS, shared some of the tricks he’s learned in his more than 20 years of involvement in removable prosthetic technology.


Zaleske showed how to fabricate esthetic and functional products in a consistent and accurate manner. He explained and demonstared a number of products and techniques that attendees can now impleent quickly and easily into their removable laboratory mode .

Stating he hasn’t “had a remake in nine years,” Zaleske described basic steps and techniques to troubleshoot problems with heat cure acrylics and covered the benfits of some of his favorite products including a variety of Keystone Industries products.

Mark Jackson, RDT, co-owner of DAMAS certified Precision Ceramics  Laboratory, used his Saturday afternoon course to offer tips and advice on a number of topics to help give attendees a competitive edge.

The DAMAS (Dental Appliance Manufactures Audit Scheme), is a pre-packaged quality assurance system geared for the dental laboratory to help raise the standards within the industry.

He shared a detailed process that covers things like quality control and corrective action, calibrating equipment , product labeiling, customer complaints and even the identification of products and materials that work best with your laboratory.

Following these steps to form a “new partnership” and deliver consistent products, Jackson said, can help your laboratory gain a competitive edge.