February 13, 2020
by Linda M. Douglas BSc, RDH
According to CDHA, the key responsibilities of dental hygienists are health promotion, education, clinical therapy, research, change agent, and administration. The following five hygienists are amazing dental hygiene professionals who have definitely demonstrated their commitment to continuous improvement. They have also elevated the roles of researcher and change agent to new heights, by offering ideas for problem solving that enhance our practice and benefit our patients. These innovative colleagues are Mark Frias, Susan Wingrove, Patricia Blunden, Becky Logue, and Debi Dencek. Here are their stories of what motivated them to develop their product, how they accomplished this, and advice for hygienists everywhere who might be aspiring inventors.
Susan Wingrove, BS, RDH, is an innovator, writer, international speaker, and 2016 Sunstar RDH Award of Distinction recipient. Co-designer of the Wingrove Titanium Implant Set, ACE probes, Queen of Hearts instruments by PDT, Inc. Susan is a published author for multiple journal articles, Scientific Panel for ACP Clinical Practice Guidelines, as well as Implant Maintenance Textbook: Peri-Implant Therapy for the Dental Hygienist: Clinical Guide to Maintenance and Disease Complications. Contact: email@example.com or wingrovedynamics.com
We teamed up with Linda Miller to develop the Wingrove Titanium Implant Scaler Set; three instruments for all of your implant maintenance for restorations and prosthesis. It is a soft 28-30 Rockwell Hardness set that does not scratch and does not leave residue behind. Meeting and working with Linda Miller, CEO of PDT, Inc., changed my life. Linda truly understands ergonomics and wants to help hygienists last longer in the profession.
WHAT LED TO THE WINGROVE SET
As a hygienist, I wanted to expand my expertise to regeneration and implantology. I met my late husband Dr. Frank Wingrove, in 1995, and together we did over 13 years of regeneration research. He was a periodontist and implantologist who was tasked with resolving failing implant cases from all over Iowa. He recognized a pattern of debris left behind on implants, not related to cement but to instrument residue that was causing implantitis. Investigation into instrument residue led to our development of a set of implant scalers that did not scratch and did not leave residue behind. They were completed a month after he passed away and are dedicated to him: The Wingrove Titanium Implant Scalers by Paradise Dental Technologies, Inc. (PDT).
It is an exciting time to be a hygienist, and my advice to other hygienists is to take the leadership role in education on Biofilm and the Oral Systemic Link to heart. If you want to work on design of new products you feel would help our profession, begin by reaching out to a company that follows what you are striving for. Outline your idea in a proposal and set up a time to talk to their R&D department or product development division with your idea. The WHY is very important, such as how it differs from similar, existing products.
Becky Logue graduated from Idaho State University, Pocatello, Idaho in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Dental hygiene.
I have more than 30 years’ experience as a dental hygienist. In January of 2005, I founded Beckmer Products to develop and market my patented invention, a foot operated computer data entry peripheral that solves the problem of cross contamination during periodontal charting. The first commercial application of this new dental technology device, the Dental R.A.T. TM, is focused on providing dental hygienists with a tool that allows them to enter data without cross contamination or the assistance of other dental office personnel.
I invented and developed this new computer device, taking it from an idea on paper to a prototype, and then to a market-ready product, by creating and executing my research and development and commercialization plan. This computer input device is designed primarily to facilitate the work of dental hygienists and has gained wide acceptance in the field of dental hygiene in the U.S.
I field-tested the prototype in my dental hygiene office. That first prototype took the form of a sturdy corded metal unit that ran any dental software answering a common problem in dental offices. The next generation model, the wireless Dental R.A.T. 2.0, has a sturdy plastic construction and an audio playback feature.
Over the past three years I have travelled across the United States, training dental hygienists in offices, colleges and universities on use of the Dental R.A.T. with their specific software. Sales of the Dental R.A.T. 2.0. increased by 680% in our third year.
With the commercial success of this first application of the technology, I have expanded to develop a foot operated mouse for anyone who has a hard time using a hand mouse. The potential for this new foot mouse has so many applications for anyone running a computer while their hands are busy, or if they are one of the 11 million people that don’t have full use of their hands or arms but want to run a computer. Many dentists and medical doctors have seen the value of this new foot mouse. ‘Boomer The Foot Mouse’ has been a huge help for many people and who knew it would come from needing help with perio charting?
I graduated from the Dental Hygiene Program at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Canada in 1992. Dentistry has been my passion now for almost three decades.
The Clip Mirror idea came to me when I was working on a patient with a super strong lower lip and a protruding tongue. With Cavitron in one hand and mirror in the other, and the patients tongue pushing out the saliva ejector, I thought to myself, “Why does this need to be so hard?” I imagined having a mirror clipped directly onto the saliva ejector to free up a hand. Then I thought to myself, who better to invent a dental tool than a dental hygienist?
I decided I would learn everything I needed to know to become an inventor. I read all the books I could find on inventing, patents, licensing and intellectual property. I started by searching for prior art, which is just a fancy term for has anyone else who has made something like this. I learned to navigate the USPTO (patent and trade office) and read and researched every patent possibly similar to my own invention. I learned to proficiently write and file my patent application for the Clip Mirror.
I began to delve into manufacturing mode; I knew the design I wanted and learned about dental mirror manufacturing. The steel for the clip had to be medical grade 400 series so it would not rust, and the clip itself would be designed to snap securely to the saliva ejector, while still allowing a clinician to rotate it if they needed. The rolled clip ends would allow a line of floss to be secured as an added precaution. The Clip Mirror is now a size four mirror made with the Ultravision mirror by Hahnenkratt in Germany. I began the manufacturing process, building my website and all the small business essentials including a Medical Device Establishment License with Health Canada. I then began market testing and research for a few years until introducing the Clip Mirror by DH Essentials at home and across the globe in January of 2017.
ERGONOMICS FOR DENTAL HYGIENISTS
I designed the Clip Mirror to make the job of the Dental Hygienist/Clinician easier on the body and with greater ease and efficiency. As we all know, dentistry takes a huge toll on your body.
Advice for others: It’s super exciting to dream of something and then bring it to life through hard work and dedication. I would love to help others attain their dream; it is so important to believe in yourself and that anything is possible. I totally believe in paying it forward and helping others. I would not be where I am today without the help of others and the kindness of strangers. I invite anyone to contact me for advice through The Clip Mirror website at www.dhessentials.com.
In 2008, I purchased an Isolite System (now known as Zyris), which provides simultaneous evacuation, retraction and a bite block in one disposable mouthpiece. It’s an impressive product but it proved costly to equip multiple operatories.
In 2010 I decided to see if I could create something that would connect the disposable Isolite mouthpiece directly to the HVE valve. I used my new contraption for the next few months; even though it “worked”, I needed something better. I took a drawing of my prototype to a local small manufacturer in my city, and within five minutes, I was talking to the CEO. The next day, I had a quote for four prototypes. The product I had envisioned now existed!
After posting a picture of the prototype on a popular dental forum, my primary intention quickly switched from personal use to sales. My inbox suddenly filled up with requests to pre-order! So, I initially ordered 300 units from the manufacturer thinking that would be enough, but those quickly sold out. The product is still selling well.
Advice for others: For the hygienist who has a product in mind but doesn’t know where to start, here are a few recommendations to get you started. Check to see if your idea has already been patented: go to https://patents.google.com and look around. A patent for your idea, or something very similar to it, might already exist but the patent might already be expired, or you might be able to purchase it or obtain the rights to use it. On the other hand, if you find nothing, then you are free and clear to apply for a patent to protect your idea.
Create a drawing of your product, and create a prototype yourself. This will give insight into possible dimensional problems. Get advice from other hygienists; many dental products you see on the market today were created by hygienists. If you have a good idea and seriously want to create a dental product, just do it. We all doubt ourselves but ignore those doubtful thoughts and take action today!
My inspiration for CordEze was clear when I started working as a dental hygienist. I have always favored using the ultrasonic scaler during patient care but cord management was a struggle. I was taught in school to hold the ultrasonic cord with my pinky ﬁnger while scaling. After one workday of doing this, I knew that I had to ﬁgure out a better solution. Initially, my idea was to wedge the cord between my leg and the patient chair to reduce the cord drag (not too bright, I know). That put my body in even more of an awkward position: further increasing my risk for musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). I was then set on a mission to improve my ergonomics. I used the principles of fulcrum and decided that the wrist was close enough to the source of the handpiece, and would be the best place to relieve the undue stress of the cord drag: CordEze was born.
The motivation behind taking my product to market was to help fellow hygienists and other clinicians feel cordless too. It is beautiful soul food for me to hear from seasoned hygienists how CordEze has alleviated their wrist pain. Better still, new hygienists hope that by using CordEze they will never have to deal with managing pain. Hygienists are prevention specialists. It is important for us to apply those principals to ourselves. Self-preservation, and safety and comfort during patient care should be our top priority. The feeling of being cordless while still beneﬁting from the power of a corded handpiece is optimal. One of the bonuses that I learned while using CordEze was that I was able to adapt the working tip of the ultrasonic insert more accurately and thus, my efﬁciency was increased. This positively affected my time management and patient satisfaction through reduced chair time.
Advice for others: There is a ton of opportunity in the dental industry for improvement and advancement. Just look around you and listen to your inner voice that will lead you into your creative zone. Then, take the leap of faith; the process of developing a product and selling it is not easy, but if your intention is to solve a problem and help people, the process is rewarding. My hope is that dental hygiene programs around the globe continue to incorporate CordEze into their clinical instruction so that future hygienists learn early, then carry their best ergonomic practices forward into the workplace. I regularly give webinars on ergonomics and demonstrate CordEze products for students and staff. If anyone is interested in scheduling an online educational demo, they can go to: https://cordeze.appointlet.com/s/product-demostudent-wergonomics-education-1-hour/debi-dencek or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The stories and achievements of these colleagues are an inspiration. Especially for dental hygienists with a desire to contribute to our profession by developing problem solving innovations. If you have an idea which could enhance dental hygiene practice, take their advice, and go for it!
About the Author
Linda M. Douglas BSc, RDH graduated as a dental hygienist from the Royal Dental Hospital in London, England, and also graduated from O’Hehir University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Oral Health Promotion.. Linda worked in periodontology before moving to Toronto, where she has worked in private practice since 1990. She is also the Clinical Director for Hygienetown, a supportive online community and publication for dental hygienists. Linda’s desire to help anxious patients has instigated in-depth study of the issues faced by survivors of childhood trauma, and other individuals with dental phobia. Linda also writes and speaks on xerostomia management, saliva testing and caring for dental patients with eating disorders.