Dental Diet System

May 1, 2004
Watch out Atkins! Move over South Beach! There's a new player in the weight-control industry ... and dentists need to know about it.

by Edward A. Borio, DDS

Last year, I was selected to be an investigator for a multimarket case study for Scientific Intake's Dental Diet System (DDS). Sophisticated clinical trials had just been completed showing significant results for the system. Now it was time to introduce it in a dental office in a controlled study that would measure actual weight loss as well as patient and dental office experiences.

Has your staff ever counted the days until the first patient scheduled for a new procedure arrives? Have they ever told you they wished they could be part of the test group? Have you wanted something that would impact total patient wellness and increase the services you can provide? A simple, quick, and user-friendly event in the office that has no association with pain; in fact, something that results in the direct opposite — joy, happiness, and better health?

I believed this research project would increase the satisfaction level of everyone at my practice because it is so different from the normal days' events. There was an element of pride evident throughout the office.

A few weeks later, the first patient arrived — early. Her excitement was tangible. She could not wait to have her impression taken so her DDS appliance could be made. The glances between staff and patient were telling. "I am so lucky to be in this case study!" was the most repeated comment. "I know it is going to be great to use this new approach. It makes so much sense. This is going to work for me."

I must admit as I met each subject over the next two weeks there was a feeling in the room I usually don't get from someone in the chair. My practice was doing something different. I was viewed as the doctor who was going to make a difference in the patient's health and appearance. Patients viewed me with admiration rather than apprehension. I was the key to getting this new, logical, highly desired behavior-modification system. It is hard to articulate the mood because it was frankly a different emotion than my staff or I generally experience. Subjects came in eager and full of hope, and it was contagious.

It was also amazing to us how pre-sold each subject was on the Dental Diet System. We could not have changed their minds. The concept of reducing bite size and slowing food intake mechanically was, in the words of several patients, "a no-brainer." The DDS is simple and logical, and my entire staff wondered why no one had thought of it before.

The next surprise was the frequent questions — "How soon can I come back and get it?" "I want to start right away. I'm so psyched to begin." Patients came back seven to 10 days later and received their custom DDS appliance with hologram, patent number, and individual user number. The company's laboratory work was excellent, with only two appliances requiring very minor adjustments. The test subjects were weighed to establish their start weight and sent on their way — all in 10 to 15 minutes — full of hope and commitment.

The DDS had already worked in a controlled environment at an academic research center, but how would real people in the real world do? Safe, sustainable weight loss is generally considered one to two pounds per week by the government guidelines. The Scientific Intake clinical data indicated that was what we could expect in our case studies.

Because the patients were not all fitted, weighed, and started on the same day, their weigh-in return dates were staggered. As the first subjects returned for their weigh-in at the conclusion of the test period (30 days), my staff was electrified with curiosity. The first test subject's weight was taken and the cheers permeated my entire office — 6.2 pounds lost in 30 days. I don't know who was happier, my auxiliaries or the patient. "It works and it was so easy. You eat what you want, just not so much. You taste food just fine. I wore it about 85 percent of the time and kept it in my purse wherever I went. This is amazing."

As the rest of the subjects paraded in over the next few weeks, the weigh-in ritual and celebrations never failed to energize my staff and me. I received two thank you notes. Everyone wanted to tell their family and friends about the DDS and about what I was doing at my practice. The patients' feelings of joy and satisfaction were transferred squarely to my staff and me.

In the entire study, the weight loss averaged 5.88 pounds in 30 days. Ease of use, not taking questionable pills, not going to special meetings, not having side effects, no recurring costs, no journaling of foods, and no special foods to buy were all cited as desirable traits. Foremost was the behavior modification that occurred; the appliance taught them to eat more slowly and feel satisfied by eating less.

For my practice, there were many benefits. The increased productivity was welcome and the time commitment was minimal. Getting new people into the practice was also a plus. But the joy we saw over and over when the final weigh-ins occurred was a truly energizing feeling that lasted all day and even went home with me. In a world where obesity has reached epidemic proportions, my office was making a positive, measurable contribution.

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