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Inside Dentistry
December 2022
Volume 18, Issue 12

End-to-End Oral Health Enablement

The Straumann Group partners with DSOs on comprehensive solutions, training, education, and more

Operating dental practices on a large scale brings a number of advantages, but it is not without its challenges. Dental support organizations (DSOs) need to discover ways to ensure standardization, build meaningful relationships, and increase efficiency within highly fragmented workflows and diverse infrastructures. Acknowledging that, one partner has risen above the rest to help several DSOs in the pursuit of excellence across their networks: the Straumann Group.

Different DSOs have different needs. Some know exactly what they want from a manufacturer partner; others need a consultative partner as well. The Straumann Group strives to meet whatever those needs might be for each individual organization. "We want to be a partner rather than only a supplier," says Bruno Arnaud, DDS, the Straumann Group's head of clinical affairs, DSO, North America (Figure 1 through Figure 3). "We offer key elements beyond the single product, harmonizing and digitalizing end-to-end procedure workflows with comprehensive solutions along the entire patient pathway, combined with our internationally renowned educational excellence. We help our DSO partners become more successful. We are only successful if they are successful."

The Straumann Group helps sustain clinical excellence by benchmarking the delivery of care to identify which treatment solutions will improve outcomes. Moreover, DSOs can reduce variability by addressing all potential points of variation and standardizing treatment protocols with digital tools. If the goal is to increase case efficiency and throughput, as well as optimize workflows, the Straumann Group can help take an end-to-end view of workflows and business operations. They can also help generate additional consumer demand and address opportunities in existing patient cohorts.

In September 2021, The Aspen Group (TAG) announced a strategic partnership with the Straumann Group to offer dental implant solutions, abutments, and CAD/CAM options to more than 1,000 independent dentist-owned offices that they support across 45 states (Figure 4 through Figure 6). "We have experienced a large amount of growth in that category over the last several years, which led us to decide that it was time to look at who could be the best partner to help us continue to grow for the next 5, 7, or 10 years," says Sundeep Rawal, DMD, TAG's senior vice president, Implant Support Services. "We considered companies that could be true partners with us, not just from the standpoint of manufacturing a dental implant but also in terms of helping us to grow this initiative and improve how we deliver care to patients. We wanted to innovate in that endeavor with best-in-class products and services, training, and education at scale. It became clear that nobody could support us across all of those areas like the Straumann Group could." TAG worked with the Straumann Group to further build out their existing continuum, but just as important was utilizing the Straumann® BLX Implant System—an end-to-end solution that enables dentists to reduce chair time, increase efficiency, and deliver immediate placement—all while growing their practices. The BLX system offers a unique implant design featuring Dynamic Bone Management, along with a reduced neck diameter, Roxolid® high-performance alloy, SLActive® surface treatment, bi-directional cutting elements, a slim and fully tapered implant core, variable thread design, and deep apical threads. "From a consumer standpoint, today's patients want solutions that can immediately help them with efficiency and ease," Rawal says. "They do not want unnecessary procedures, and they want less invasiveness. Dentists need to be able to deliver on a promise not just at the end of treatment but throughout the process. Combining all of those concepts requires an implant system that garners the ability to achieve those goals through its properties. From that standpoint, Straumann BLX is a system designed for immediate protocols and processes. It is versatile enough to place in a variety of clinical situations, from single tooth to full arch, for both hard and soft bone, for maxillary and mandibular indications, across delayed healing sites and immediate extraction sites, and with delayed loading protocols and immediate loading protocols. For what we wanted to accomplish from a patient experience standpoint, utilizing such a robust system made sense, and it has helped us deliver to patients everything that we promise them."

The implant continuum that TAG developed in partnership with the Straumann Group gives the dentists they support the ability to capitalize on the benefits of the BLX system. "We start clinicians on diagnosis and treatment planning and train them to really leverage the technology to make the right clinical decisions for patients," Rawal says. "We then spend a lot of time on the robust nature of restorative implant dentistry, continuing through to the surgical placement of dental implants and then on to more complex and advanced procedures. We spent many years building out this robust continuum of training and education, and it was a great fit for a partner like Straumann that could easily integrate into that continuum because they have their own robust training and education program. We synergistically created a really unique learning journey that enables any clinician who comes into Aspen to comprehensively learn everything about implantology in the most innovative ways possible."

Another DSO, Guardian Dentistry Partners, was supporting approximately 40 practices when they partnered with the Straumann Group in 2020, implementing Straumann and Neodent implants and taking advantage of the company's extensive implant training opportunities (Figure 11 through Figure 12). "I was very focused on our dentists' education," says Hisham Barakat, DDS, Guardian Dentistry Partners' chief clinical officer. "We did not want to undertake that task alone, and the partnership with Straumann and Neodent provided us with an amazing resource of educators, expertise, and dedication. They helped our dentists learn more so that they could place more implants and help more patients, which has helped both companies to grow." Just 2 years later, Guardian Dentistry Partners supports more than 120 practices. In addition to utilizing customized online learning continuums from Straumann, Guardian Dentistry Partners dentists participated in training during a mission trip to the Dominican Republic and attended sessions at Brazil's ILAPEO  dental school, a Neodent partner. Those live surgery training opportunities have been particularly helpful for a DSO with practices in 11 states. "You can imagine how many dentists have licenses in specific states that do not allow them to participate in live surgeries in a different state," Barakat says. "So, thinking outside the box is necessary, and nobody thinks outside the box like this amazing partner of ours."

For other DSOs, streamlining operations has been a key challenge. Sage Dental, for example, which has 86 practices, was looking to deploy a clear aligner service as well as a pilot program with 3Shape TRIOS® scanners, and because the Straumann Group also includes ClearCorrect® clear aligners, the opportunity to work with only one partner for both of those projects as well as implants was attractive. "Having one point of contact rather than working with four to five vendors is so much easier," says Cindy Roark, DMD, senior vice president and chief clinical officer for Sage Dental (Figure 7 through Figure 10). "We have different academies that our dentists can opt into for implants, clear aligners, and other disciplines, and I love that I have not needed to re-educate different vendor partners about what I am trying to accomplish with the academies. The Straumann Group already knows my needs in terms of CE, in-person versus hybrid learning, etc. The infrastructure that they have added and their willingness to co-support us in any initiatives has really been phenomenal." Sage Dental took advantage of the ILAPEO dental school training opportunity as well; the school provides didactic courses, hands-on workshops, and live surgeries. "ILAPEO facilitates an expanded volume of direct patient experience when compared with what would typically be accomplished at a US-based training facility," Roark says. "This type of training, which includes direct placement of up to 50 implants, was crucial to our organization's successful launch of implant services."

Arnaud notes that developing a custom continuum for each partner requires versatility in the Straumann Group's entire platform. "Depending on their needs, we have something for everyone," he says. "They tell us what they want, and we can create that journey for them."

Roark emphasizes that that level of partnership is invaluable and that the vendor level of support and training is one of the main drivers for DSO partner selection, as opposed to cost or margin. "Without continuing education and support, you will not be able to effectively implement initiatives like this at scale," she says.

Barakat echoes those sentiments and adds that the Straumann Group has gone above and beyond to deliver what his organization needs. "They are a true partner, they are committed to continuing education, and they believe in a win-win-win scenario for the patient, our organization, and themselves," he says, noting that he has been particularly impressed with the Straumann Group's commitment to the Dominican Republic mission trip. Ten Guardian Dentistry Partners dentists and four dental assistants spent a week there, treating patients who had not seen a dentist in years and learning advanced procedures, such as sinus augmentation, ridge expansion, soft-tissue grafting, and immediate implant placement, from Guardian and Neodent trainers. They also taught local dentists the basics of implant restorations so that they could follow up with patients and restore their implants. "We wanted to have an impact, but we did not know how huge that impact would be," Barakat says. "This is becoming a signature trip for our dentists." Meanwhile, he describes the ILAPEO experience in Brazil as unique in the profession. "The level of organization, the facilities, the training, and the camaraderie were all one-of-a-kind," Barakat says. "It tells you a lot about the culture of the company and how invested they are in helping their DSO partners like us to better our dentists' skills."

Indeed, Arnaud affirms that the Straumann Group understands the importance of partnering with DSOs toward the greater goal of serving the overall patient population as well as possible. "The DSO market has grown significantly, and these organizations are setting a lot of trends," he says. "If I own my own private practice, I can be a great dentist, but I might not have much time for the business side of it. DSOs, especially those that are well managed, are tracking everything and trying to improve operational efficiency while sustaining clinical excellence. Ultimately, they activate additional growth potentials by not compromising on an outstanding patient experience. DSOs are leading the market, and we offer more than a transactional supplier relationship. We are a long-term, holistic partner."

For more information, contact:
Straumann Group • 800-448-8168

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