An Interview with Northeast Dental Laboratory
Terry Stern, President
INSIDE DENTISTRY (ID): What do you see as the most significant changes in the oral healthcare arena over the past 5 to 10 years?
Terry Stern (TS): In the 34 years since Northeast Dental Laboratory’s inception, we have recognized an increase in patients who suffer from temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, grinding, and excessive wear on their dentition. As a result, dental professionals are beginning to recognize the need for preventive dentistry by incorporating nightguards and TMJ appliances into their practices. Many offices are training their hygienists to identify the wear characteristics in teeth that dictate the need for a nightguard. As more dental practitioners diversify their practices to incorporate these appliances, they experience a sudden increase in business during these challenging economic times. By using these appliances, patients can retain their dentition for longer periods of time and mobility/periodontal disease is less likely to occur. Over the last 34 years, our laboratory has introduced the dental community to various appliances that significantly reduce migraine pain, thereby minimizing the need for medication. Our appliances protect the natural dentition and serve to preserve any prosthetic bridges or veneers against breakage and dislodging.
ID: How, internally and in the broader marketplace, has your company responded to these changes?
TS: We have responded to the rise in TMJ dysfunction by specializing in neuromuscular and bruxism appliances. In furthering our commitment to preventative dental care, we have developed several high-quality, economical products that address the changing face of TMJ dysfunction. For example, we recently launched the DAY GUARD, which provides relief for patients suffering with stress and clenching during the workday. This appliance allows patients to speak comfortably, produces minimal saliva and is virtually unnoticeable. The DAY GUARD provides an attractive option to the dental practitioner in that it can be used in conjunction with a nightguard in the evening. Additionally, our laboratory has also fabricated numerous migraine preventive appliances (MPA) over the last 20 years that have been extremely effective in addressing the rise in migraine headaches among the general population. Dental professionals can build and diversify their practices by promoting this impressive range of appliances to existing and prospective patients.
ID: What do you see as your biggest responsibility to the marketplace, and why does your choice rank as your top priority?
TS: Our primary mission is to introduce dental practitioners to the latest advancements in neuromuscular appliances, which furthers our larger goal of preventative dentistry. We recognize that today’s dental professionals are faced with the challenge of maximizing chairtime while providing patients with high-quality, comfortable appliances. In response to this need, we educate dental professionals in impression techniques and freeway space bites, which enable us to manufacture consistent quality appliances with minimal chair time adjustment.
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?
TS: We take great pride in developing products that advance the goal of preventative dentistry. These products provide dental professionals with the opportunity to diversify their practices while educating the patient around the benefits of removable appliances. By introducing these patients to such appliances, both dentist and patient benefit from fewer re-occurring problems. We feel responsible for developing appliances that promote patient comfort, are easily adjustable, inconspicuous, and allow for easy wear. The DAY GUARD, MPA, and THERMO-FLEX NIGHTGUARD are among several appliances that enhance patient compliance, resulting in increased use and benefit.
ID: What do you think is the best approach to research, development, and ultimate delivery of needed advancements?
TS: We value open communication with our dental professionals to properly address and remediate problems that they have incurred with previous laboratories. We are readily available to offer suggestions on effective ways to take bite registrations and make minor adjustments to appliances, thereby reducing the dentist’s valuable chairtime at insertion. We are constantly assessing patient satisfaction to further refine our manufacturing process. In further educating and meeting the needs of the dental community, we have developed a comprehensive website and offer free promotional materials for the operatory and reception area that provide an in-depth description of our products.
ID: How is your company helping to resolve the challenges facing dentistry and oral healthcare today?
TS: Dental practitioners are faced with many options concerning which appliance is appropriate for the patient. At Northeast, we actively communicate with our dental professionals in assessing which neuromuscular appliance best meets the patient’s diagnostic needs. Additionally, our laboratory technicians educate dental practitioners around the latest advancements in neuromuscular appliances and how to maximize their benefits. We value and seek input from the dental community regarding product satisfaction and the changing needs of their patient population. Such feedback is invaluable in that it directs the development of future products.