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Inside Dental Technology
November 2015
Volume 6, Issue 10

Shofu Continues a Tradition of Excellence

Industry leader offers new innovations in addition to tried and true products

Shofu Incorporated, headquartered in Kyoto, Japan, is a world-renowned manufacturer of dental materials and equipment, providing superior products and services for more than 90 years. Shofu Dental Corporation, headquartered in San Marcos, California, is an award-winning company recognized for its top-notch products and exceptional customer service. From its inception in 1971, Shofu Dental has been changing dentistry by delivering innovative, smart solutions that enhance dental practices around the world.

Founded in 1922 by Kajo Shofu III, a researcher and entrepreneur who was well versed in ceramics, Shofu Incorporated’s first breakthrough into dentistry was the development of high-quality porcelain teeth for dentures. Over the decades, Shofu has become one of the leading suppliers of teeth to the global market. However, the denture market is only one facet of the company’s presence within the dental industry. Shofu is known for its excellent abrasives as well as its restorative and laboratory materials. The company’s “Brownies” and “Greenies” have become the industry standards for finishing and polishing procedures. Furthermore, Shofu’s proprietary bioactive Giomer technology has made a noteworthy contribution to advancements in minimally invasive, patient-specific restorative dentistry. Overall, the company’s catalog is rather broad and includes everything from abrasives, diamonds, cements, and direct and indirect restoratives to finishers, polishers, and most recently a dental camera. Although the development of a camera may be perceived as a step in a different direction, in Japan, Shofu has been selling its branded dental cameras with success for nearly a decade. In fact, the current model of the Shofu’s camera, the award-winning EyeSpecial C-II, represents the fourth generation of the original camera and the second in the EyeSpecial line.

Emphasis on R&D

With everything it has to offer, Shofu is not afraid of losing its identity as a core abrasives and porcelain manufacturer, but the company is aware that it needs to maintain a certain focus on its product development.

While Shofu Dental Corporation has a high degree of freedom to adapt to cultural and market differences—separating it from the parent company—the US group is working closely with the research and development team in Japan. The company’s corporate R&D teams travel worldwide, spending time with dentists and dental technicians from every part of the globe. They visit universities, attend trade shows, and speak directly with local dental offices, dental laboratories, and customers. When a new product is developed but not yet launched, samples are sent to local markets for customer feedback. Sometimes these evaluations indicate that the company will hit the mark, and other times they suggest that further changes may be necessary. The current focus of the R&D efforts is to become a global player in bioactive direct restorative dental materials and new technologies.

Unlike some other publicly traded corporations that tend to laser-focus on quarterly results, Shofu, which is traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, bases its philosophy on quality with long-term goals in mind. Extensive, careful planning goes into product development and the manufacturing processes, both of which are the essence of Shofu’s remarkable legacy.

Household Names

Shofu’s expertise in abrasives is unmatched. In the dental industry, few products have achieved the trusted reputation enjoyed by Dura-Green and Dura-White Stones, the high-performance abrasives designed for contouring and finishing of amalgams, precious and non-precious alloys, porcelains, composites, and enamel. Dentists stopping by the Shofu’s booth at tradeshows often share anecdotes about how they began training with Shofu’s legendary abrasives, the Brownies, Greenies, and Supergreenies. These systems have become household names in the dental profession.

Another award-winning product from the Shofu’s laboratory selection is Veracia SA, a semi-anatomical denture tooth that consists of micro-filled hybrid composite reinforced with layered glass for beautiful and natural esthetics. Veracia’s tooth composition yields excellent homogeneity, outstanding durability, and exceptional bonding strength with the denture base. These unique teeth are designed with specifically placed fissures and wear facets that provide patients with smooth lateral and protrusive movements to minimize abrasion. The Veracia line also includes a smart Quick Quality Quadrant, or Q3 PACK, tooth placement system that consists of 4 individual posterior teeth set into an occlusal template for each side of the arch to facilitate a quick and precise setup. This template can easily be placed for balanced or lingualized occlusion. The Q3 PACK is a tremendous time-saver that greatly improves production and accuracy even for an inexperienced laboratory technician.

Yet another ingenious laboratory material from Shofu is Ceramage, an indirect restorative that is approximately 70% zirconium silicate. Since its inception, Shofu has worked with a world-renowned master ceramist to develop and refine its porcelains—with a strong focus on colors. The entire range of colors for all of the company’s porcelains, including Ceramage, undergo comprehensive research and analysis with a high-tech colorimeter and extensive studies on thousands of teeth by Master Dental Technician Makoto Yamamoto. No porcelain product goes to market unless it meets Yamamoto’s demanding standards. Like Shofu’s other ceramics, Ceramage’s natural light transmission and fluorescence properties allow restorations to exhibit a vivid brilliant appearance. This unique system virtually replicates the esthetics and light diffusion of dentin and enamel, making it an excellent choice for superior anterior and posterior restorations.

Latest Innovations

Traditionally, working with ceramics involves labor-intensive, time-consuming processes. Shofu’s new One Shot Uni-Layer Porcelain system, a next-generation ceramic material, effectively streamlines the whole restoration process. It delivers strong zirconia, metal, or all ceramic-based restorations for crowns and large-span bridges in the anterior and posterior regions without limitation. The technician applies this proprietary blended powder and fires it. This is followed by the selection of a shade opaque, which is applied over the base opaque and fired again. The full-contour build-up is completed with the One Shot Uni-Layer Porcelain, completed by a final firing. The finished restoration is achieved in significantly less time with exceptional esthetic results.

With the proliferation of digital technologies and continuous integration of implants into removable treatment modalities, new esthetic denture materials are now being introduced to the market. Specifically, with the rising costs of alloys, the trend toward non-metal restorations has been gaining momentum. Today, clinicians and laboratory technicians have access to many such alternatives with improved physical and mechanical properties. One of those alternatives is Trinia—a CAD/CAM fiber-reinforced composite. Engineered to meet the broad indications of clinical use, including fixed prostheses, bridges, dentures, and partial dentures, this resilient and ultralight biocompatible resin material provides a more efficient and cost-effective alternative to metal bars cast in semi-precious and precious metals or milled in titanium. Trinia is not only an excellent metal-free solution for a vast variety of applications; it also works extremely well with the Ceramage indirect restorative for optimal characterization of the restoration, and like other Shofu’s award-winning products makes an excellent contribution at the bench, in a laboratory.

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