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Inside Dentistry
March 2024
Volume 20, Issue 3

A Discussion With 2024 Innovative Company of the Year Kuraray Noritake

Kuraray Noritake was named the 2024 "Innovative Company of the Year" by Dental Advisor last month. Company representatives spoke with Inside Dentistry in an exclusive interview about what the honor means and how it was earned.

Inside Dentistry (ID): What key innovations and product developments contributed to Kuraray Noritake being named Innovative Company of the Year?

Kuraray Noritake Dental (KND): Kuraray originally developed and patented the unique adhesive monomer MDP (10-methacryloyloxydecyl dihydrogen phosphate), which has since influenced dentistry dramatically. The original MDP has been the key ingredient in almost every CLEARFIL adhesive and PANAVIA resin cement since 1983. Different formulations of it are now used in most adhesives due to its unique, insoluble chemical bond to dentin, enamel, zirconia, and other materials and substrates. Kuraray also developed the first caries detecting dye and the first adhesive that etches dentin, both in 1978. Continuing its innovative legacy, Kuraray recently introduced the first silane monomer (LCSi) to be incorporated into a resin cement (PANAVIA SA Cement Universal). It provides a fresh, activated silane mixture for every restoration and is extremely stable. In addition, the Noritake division was the first to patent translucent layered zirconia (KATANA) because of its unique and proprietary zirconia powders. Noritake may still be the only ceramic manufacturer with its own proprietary powder.

ID: How do Kuraray's innovations, particularly in dental adhesives and materials, impact the dental industry and professional practice?

KND: MDP creates a unique chemical bond to dentin and enamel that is insoluble. Chemically, this is known as a calcium salt. This provides excellent bonding with any etching technique but especially with mildly acidic self-etching. In the 1990s, the creation of mildly acidic MDP-based adhesives with filler gave us dramatically higher-strength dentin bonds. Researchers began to see dentin bonds as high as the tensile strength of the dentin-enamel junction (DEJ) of natural teeth. The company also started a desensitizing revolution in 1999 with the release of CLEARFIL SE BOND. With many composite placement techniques, CLEARFIL SE BOND provided clinicians with consistent and predictable desensitizing for posterior direct composites. Furthermore, MDP has been in the self-adhesive PANAVIA resin cements since 1983, and they were among the first resins tested to have a durable bond to zirconia (circa 1997). This allowed clinicians to provide minimally invasive Maryland bridges with more predictable outcomes.

ID: What are the biggest challenges Kuraray Noritake faced in achieving this level of innovation, and how did the company overcome them?

KND: Our biggest challenges have been when introducing a completely new technology (ie, etching dentin, self-etching, bonding zirconia, incorporating silane into a resin cement, etc). It can take time for these new technologies to be adopted into clinical dentistry. In 1978, when we introduced the first CLEARFIL adhesive system (CLEARFIL BOND System F) in conjunction with Dr. Takao Fusayama, the etching dentin protocol was rejected by Western dentistry and journals. It wasn't until 1980 when Fusayama's book, "New Concepts in Operative Dentistry" was published, that attitudes began to change about etching dentin. It took until the early to mid 1990s to have this concept fully accepted. 1978, from our perspective, was the beginning of modern, minimally invasive adhesive dentistry with these important changes.

ID: How does Kuraray collaborate with dental professionals to ensure their products meet their evolving needs, and has customer feedback influenced the development of new products or improvements to existing ones at Kuraray Noritake?

KND: We receive clinical feedback from a network of several clinicians throughout the world and try to apply new technologies as needed. The challenge is to have a new technology/product that can be used internationally even with many different economic systems throughout the world. Not all technologies are inexpensive to implement and include in products.

ID: Can you share insights into Kuraray Noritake's research and development process and how you balance innovation with practical application?

KND: Kuraray is an international specialty resin manufacturer that is very well respected in and outside of dentistry. We put a significant effort into research and development and quality control. This will continue to be our balance and approach in the future.

ID: Following this recognition, what are the company's future goals in terms of product development and technological advancement?

KND: Kuraray Noritake will continue to improve its products and technologies to enhance dental treatments just as it has for the past 45 years. We will continue to innovate and provide new products and technologies that simplify procedures without reducing quality or durability. Better chemistry means better dentistry!

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