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Inside Dental Technology
November 2017
Volume 8, Issue 11

The Shofu Way

A tradition of excellence and a century of experience

Nearly a century ago, Kajo Shofu, an entrepreneur from Japan, formed Shofu Industries, an organization concentrated on the research and commercialization of dental materials. Representing the third generation of his family ceramic venture, Kajo began the mass production of porcelain teeth in 1922. The company’s decision to invest in the dental laboratory business proved to be so successful that, over the years, Shofu Industries emerged as one of the leading suppliers of teeth to the global market.

Still, the denture niche represented only one aspect of the company’s thriving establishment. From 1925 to 1959, by combining its expertise in tooth manufacturing with research on porcelain, Shofu began the development of rotary instruments. The first breakthrough products in this category were green and white stones and diamond abrasives. In the dental industry, few products have achieved the trusted reputation enjoyed by Shofu’s Brownies, Greenies, Supergreenies, Dura-Green, and Dura-White Stones, which have set the standards for finishing and polishing procedures and become household names in the dental profession.

Encouraged by the rapid success and popularity of its rotary instruments, Shofu aimed for global expansion. In 1971, Shofu Dental Corporation, headquartered in the United States, became the company’s first overseas subsidiary.

During the 1970s, Shofu began experimenting with novel materials for direct and indirect use in dentistry. The cooperation of Makoto Yamamoto, an internationally renowned master ceramist from Japan, was instrumental in this process. Yamamoto established a comprehensive research protocol inclusive of rigorous studies on the color and wear of thousands of dental models. The implementation of the esthetic and functional principles pioneered by Yamamoto led to the creation of Vintage Halo, the world’s first dental porcelain with tooth-like opalescence. A decade later, Yamamoto’s research on Vintage would stimulate the introduction of Ceramage, a system of light-cured, syringe-formulated color composites indicated for extraoral restorations.

The development of award-winning products strengthened Shofu’s reputation as a prolific provider of high-quality products and helped the company build a loyal clientele.

Among the assortment of rotary instruments, noteworthy additions to Shofu’s catalog include OneGloss PS, a selection of aluminum-oxide polishers, Robot Diamonds, a wide array of multilayer diamond abrasives, and Super-Snap X-Treme, a complete kit of finishing and polishing discs with a proprietary 3D spherical grit coating. In 2006, Robot Diamonds achieved notable recognition in the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Professional Product Review. In a study on diamond instruments conducted by the ADA Council of Scientific Affairs, a panel of evaluators granted Robot Diamonds perfect scores across all assessed categories, including cutting ability and accuracy, durability, lack of clogging, cleaning and sterilization, corrosion resistance, and price.  

As technology and material science continued to evolve, Shofu continued to further expand its product offering. In 2007, after decades of research with dental materials and long before “bioactivity” became the industry’s buzzword, Shofu introduced Beautifil II, a system of universal nanohybrid composites with their proprietary Giomer chemistry. Incorporating the bioactive surface pre-reacted glass (S-PRG) technology, Beautifil II has become the first direct restorative to combine the biological effectiveness of glass ionomer with the physical, mechanical, and optical properties of hybrid materials.

With the proliferation of digital technologies and continuous integration of implants into treatment modalities, TRINIA CAD/CAM (an alternative to metal engineered to meet the broad indications of clinical use, including fixed prostheses, bridges, dentures, and partial dentures) and HC Block/Disk (Shofu’s first ceramic-resin hybrid material for CAD/CAM restorations) took the market by storm, providing functional and esthetic values at a lower cost than the competitors. 

The high flexural strength and Vickers hardness make the material a good candidate for posterior restorations, implant-supported cases, and long-term provisionals. Additionally, the evidence also indicates that restorations fabricated with HC Block/Disk achieve an ideal marginal integrity and less avulsion than those of traditional ceramics. When compared to other CAD/CAM materials, HC Block/Disk manifests better machinability in terms of milling time, damage tolerance, wear of CAD/CAM instruments, and the ability to be milled to a very low thickness.

Overall, Shofu’s assortment is comprehensive. It even includes a digital dental camera. A three-time recipient of the prestigious Cellerant Best of Class Technology Award, the EyeSpecial C-II features preset dental shooting modes for predictable, consistent, and operator-insensitive clinical photography. The camera exhibits numerous smart attributes to help streamline communication between patients, the staff (clinicians, hygienists, and assistants), and dental laboratory technicians. The latest model of this smart camera, the EyeSpecial C-III, incorporates a series of milestone upgrades that will help the entire dental team achieve their photography tasks more quickly, easily, and intuitively.

Shofu’s expertise in dentistry translates into delivering life-transforming products that help dental professionals increase their patients’ satisfaction and, ultimately, improve the growth and profitability in their practices and laboratories.

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