Investing in periodontal instrumentation: Challenges and choices

Dr. Beck discusses the choices for investing in perio equipment with Ann O'Connor, vice president of marketing for the periodontal product line at Hu-Friedy.

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Tina Beck, DDS, interviews Ann O'Connor, RDH

Dr. Beck discusses the choices for investing in perio equipment with Ann O'Connor, vice president of marketing for the periodontal product line at Hu-Friedy.

Dr. Beck: How can the use of high-quality products and instrumentation increase overall office productivity and ROI?

O'Connor: High-quality products and instruments bring more value to a dental practice, and contribute to lower overall costs because they require less frequent instrument replacement, offer greater durability, and higher practitioner satisfaction. When clinicians are working with ergonomic, efficient instruments, they are more comfortable and productive. When the dental team has access to the instruments they need in order to accomplish their clinical objectives, and can do so in an effective, efficient way, this will contribute to higher staff retention.

All of these factors impact patient satisfaction and referrals. If a patient has a comfortable experience, realizes the benefits of their treatment, and knows that their dental office is using the most advanced technology and procedures, they are more likely to follow through with proper home care, regular visits, and recommending the practice to others.

Dr. Beck: Technology in periodontal instrumentation has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. With the availability of multiple methods of biofilm removal, what are your current thoughts on a protocol to provide an effective, time-efficient, and comfortable dental prophylaxis?

O'Connor: As a clinician, being able to select the right mix of instruments and technology for the specific clinical need is critical. It allows for more tailored treatment planning and helps ensure time is used efficiently.

Recognizing this, along with the importance of biofilm management in periodontal disease prevention, Hu-Friedy offers three components to reimagine prophylaxis protocol: Air-flow therapy, piezo power scaling, and hand scaling instrumentation.

These choices are important because each offers unique advantages, making them ideal for different clinical situations. Clinicians can then determine which combination of the three solutions works best, given the presenting state of the patient. At Hu-Friedy, we are committed to delivering the most advanced products available in each category.

Dr. Beck: Given that, what would you recommend for patients with heavy staining?

O'Connor: This is a perfect example of a situation where all three options could come into play. Our Air-flow units with Classic and Classic Comfort powders (sodium bicarbonate) are extremely effective for supragingival heavy stain removal. Using Air-flow first can easily remove the majority of the stain before scaling even begins. Then follow up with Piezon technology to remove any calculus deposits. Depending on the individual patient needs, a final step of hand scaling for difficult-to-reach areas and fine scaling could be beneficial.

Dr. Beck: How about patients with excellent home care, requiring mostly just biofilm removal, rather than heavy calculus deposits?

O'Connor: This would be a great opportunity to use our Air-flow technology alone, using Classic Comfort powder for supragingival biofilm removal. Since biofilm management is equally important subgingivally, a clinician could choose to use our Air-flow and Perio-flow units with a finer glycine Perio powder both supra and subgingivally.

Dr. Beck: In your opinion, what are the benefits of piezo scaling compared to the traditional magneto technology?

O'Connor: While the choice is a matter of clinician preference, piezoelectric scalers offer greater comfort because of the precise tip movement and smoother contact with the tooth surface. Piezo technology is also quieter, which further enhances the overall experience for both patient and clinician.

The dynamic power regulation in the premium Hu-Friedy EMS Piezon units automatically increases power when it senses heavier calculus deposits. This allows the unit to be used on a lower power setting during treatment, since it will adjust to increased power only as needed, making it more comfortable for the patient. And as we all know, creating an atmosphere of comfort in your practice is one of the keys to patient retention.

Dr. Beck: In your opinion, what are the indications and benefits of air polishing?

O'Connor: Air polishing accomplishes biofilm and stain removal efficiently and ergonomically for the clinician. It is incredibly versatile in that it can be used for a range of preventive procedures, and our Air-flow line also offers the advantage of providing both subgingival and supragingival biofilm disruption.

Our team of expert artisans handcraft the highest quality instruments, work with the best materials, and employ state-of-the-art processes to ensure every instrument meets a high standard of excellence.

Dr. Beck: With the variety of products currently available for air polishing, what materials do you recommend and why?

O'Connor: We offer three different types of powders to support all air-polishing treatments. Our Classic powder can be used on all supragingival air-polishing procedures. The standard larger-grain sodium bicarbonate powder efficiently removes heavy stains and supragingival biofilm. Our Classic Comfort powder offers the cleaning efficiency of sodium bicarbonate with increased patient comfort due to a smaller average grain size than standard sodium bicarbonate powders. Both Classic and Classic Comfort powders are primarily used for supragingival removal of biofilm and stain, but can also be used for surface preparation before dental treatments. Finally, our Perio powder's extra-fine grains remove harmful biofilm and bacteria subgingivally. Because it is formulated with glycine rather than sodium bicarbonate, Perio powder is gentle on the tooth surfaces and surrounding tissues, making the air-polishing experience more comfortable for the patient.

Dr. Beck: I am a big supporter of using high-quality products. Specifically, what is different in the Hu-Friedy manufacturing process and how is the quality ensured?

O'Connor: Hu-Friedy has been in the instrument-making business for 106 years. Our team of expert artisans handcraft the highest quality instruments, work with the best materials, and employ state-of-the-art processes to ensure every instrument meets a high standard of excellence. The same holds true for our strategic alliance partner, EMS, who is respected worldwide for their Swiss precision manufacturing.

Quality starts well before the manufacturing process. We work closely with clinicians, dental educators, and key opinion leaders to understand what the opportunities are to help make them more effective, efficient, and comfortable while achieving the best clinical results. Our robust new product development process ensures that every product we introduce is uniquely designed to address clinicians' needs.

Dr. Beck: Clinicians have a lot of choices when purchasing equipment and instruments. In your opinion, what are the considerations in manufacturing periodontal scalers that make Hu-Friedy instruments different than other alternatives?

O'Connor: Hu-Friedy's line of hand scaling instrumentation includes more than 1,000 designs in a variety of metal and resin handle options for every type of scaling procedure. Our hand-scaling instruments are designed to meet the specific clinical needs and preferences of our customers.

For example, our EverEdge scalers and curettes are made with a special blend of high quality stainless steel which stays sharper longer. This allows for less frequent sharpening and less hand fatigue, all of which means more productive scaling. Only Hu-Friedy features EverEdge Technology in the metal throughout the entire working end, instead of a coating. This means the scalers can be resharpened throughout the life of the instrument for the most efficient procedures and greatest value.

When a clinician chooses Hu-Friedy instrumentation, they also receive our commitment to service and support. We stand behind our products and are committed to being there for our customers. Educational offerings such as free CE courses and hands-on training, professional sharpening services, equipment service and repair, instrument processing assessments, and infection prevention resources allow us to provide greater value to our customers. One example of this is our Environdent recycling program, in which customers recycle 12 instruments of any brand, and receive one free Hu-Friedy instrument. This allows participants to receive value for their old instruments, and is our way of promoting environmentally responsible actions.


Tina Beck, DDS, MS, is a board-certified periodontist practicing in her hometown of San Diego, Calif. Dr. Beck is a Diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology, the highest academic achievement to be obtained in the specialty of periodontics. She can be reached at tmbeckdds@me.com.

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