The Sasparilla Equipment Feud

Electrodental dental unit

By Larry Cohen/ Benco Dental Chairman and Chief Customer Advocate

Soon after the turn of the last century, the unit you see here emerged as the Cadillac of dental units (or, perhaps more accurately, the Duesenberg of its era). The brand carried a name that sounded modern for its time: ElectroDental.

It contained a warm-air syringe, a cold-air syringe, a cold-air cut-off (for attachment of a spray bottle), an electric cautery and a little electric flashlight that could be used to illuminate the inside of the mouth. The drill was a separate low-speed cable engine that hung on the wall next to the chair. The operatory light was called a cluster light: four frosted-glass globes that hung from the ceiling on a pulley that could be raised and lowered.

There’s a fun back story to this unit. At the beginning of my dental sales career a half-century ago, I called on a dentist in the twilight of his career. Surely in his late seventies, he had started using this unit sometime a little before World War I, and he practiced with his original equipment until the day he died.

Larry Cohen, Benco Dental Chairman and Chief Customer Advocate, has over the past half-century collected hundreds of unique dental artifacts, which reside at Benco’s world headquarters in Pittston, Pennsylvania.

Larry Cohen, Benco Dental Chairman and Chief Customer Advocate, has over the past half-century collected hundreds of unique dental artifacts, which reside at Benco’s world headquarters in Pittston, Pennsylvania.

This gentleman shared an office with his dentist brother, a relative youth in his late sixties. For their entire dental career, each brother had practiced in one operatory, at the same eastern Pennsylvania location, and shared a common waiting room. Both of them worked alone without a dental assistant. Each answered his own phone, booked his own appointments and called his patients into his operatory from the same waiting room.

And they had not spoken a word to each other in about 40 years!

I very much enjoyed my monthly calls on these characters, with whom I would freely talk, even as they refused to address each other. Slowly, the story behind their four-decade feud emerged.

On almost every visit, the curmudgeonly older brother would whisper the exact same words: “You know that equipment in my brother’s office? I bought that for him. And you know what he paid me? Sasparilla!

One day, I came in to find the older fellow gleeful: “His X-ray is broken!What’s he gonna do now?”

He then repeated his mantra: “You know that equipment in my brother’s office? I bought that for him. And you know what he paid me? Sasparilla!”

The broken X-ray was one of those old Ritter boxes with the exposed overhead wire. There was no way Benco would attempt to fix it, and the younger brother, already past standard retirement age, would not consider investing in a new machine. We eventually found an old, coral-colored floor-model Weber X-ray, which our service people were planning to junk. This big clunker would look ridiculous in the younger brother’s operatory alongside the original mahogany gear that this brother was still using. No matter — I made little brother very happy by offering it to him for free.

On my next visit, the older brother greeted me with the same line: “His X-ray is broken! What’s he gonna do now? You know that equipment in my brother’s office? I bought that for him. And you know what he paid me? Sasparilla!”

I informed him that his brother was getting a replacement X-ray the following week. Then I whispered a most audacious follow-up line — it just popped out: “Oh, by the way, your brother told me to send you the bill, since you always pay for his equipment.”

They don’t make ’em like they used to: Soft drinks. X-rays. Or dentists.

LARRY COHEN has over the past half-century collected hundreds of unique dental artifacts, which reside at Benco’s world headquarters in Pittston, Pennsylvania. Read Larry’s column quarterly in Incisal Edge dental lifestyle magazine:

The Most Contagious Thing in a Dental Office?


By Lisa Philp, RDH, President of Transitions Group North America 

Does simply being near, or watching, stressful situations make you uncomfortable?

Lisa Philp, RDH, President of Transitions Group North America

Lisa Philp, RDH, President of Transitions Group North America

A team at Saint Louis University recently created “secondhand stress” to study whether it could be as contagious as a cold. They had strangers observing a man nearby who was defending himself against a false accusation. The question: Would the stranger catch the accused man’s stress?

After measuring the stranger’s heart rates and cortisol levels, the researchers found that a person could catch another person’s stress, even if they had never met.

“To find that in some people, some of the time, you can elicit these responses just by sitting and watching someone else under stress was somewhat surprising to us,” said Tony Buchanan, associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Saint Louis University.

Researchers said that stress can be passed on through things like facial expressions, voice frequency, odor and touch, and that it’s often not good for you.

Over time, chronic stress can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and depression.

And while a person can catch stress from a stranger, studies have shown that you are four times more likely to get it from someone you KNOW…. coworkers, friends and family.

The key is to realize when your stress is someone else’s stress and find ways to let it go and not internalize it. In the dental practice, being a human capital business, each team member must be mindful of what stressors they may be projecting to co-workers and patients.

There is no workplace that is is immune to stressful situations. However, becoming responsive, rather than reactive, is crucial to handling and diffusing negative stress. Reaction is based in habit, response is rooted by choice.  A choice can be made with knowledge.



Two thumbs up from Sophia. But what does the teddy bear think?

A child in upstate New York offers two thumbs up to her dentist.

“It just felt like nothing,” said Sophia, a youngster who entered the  office of Lawrence A. Kotlow, D.D.S., P.C. with eight caries. She had never experienced a filling prior.

Dr. Kotlow credits Solea, the first FDA-approved, CO2 9.3 micron dental laser for hard and soft tissue ablation.

“There was no downside to what we did,” he said.

He refers to the fact that Solea enables anesthesia-free treatment.

An array of dental lasers have been on the market for the past 30 years, but Solea is the first to enable reliable anesthesia-free and blood-free procedures.

A new partnership will make the laser available to 35,000 dentists across the country.

Convergent Dental Inc., a privately held dental equipment and technology company, announced this week it has partnered with Benco Dental, the largest privately owned, full-service distributor of dental supplies, dental equipment, dental consulting & equipment services in the United States.

Effective immediately, Benco Dental will offer Solea, the first FDA-approved, CO2 9.3 micron dental laser for hard and soft tissue ablation, to its 35,000 customers nationwide. For more than 80 years, Benco Dental has established itself as a trusted partner to dentists, helping to recommend and integrate the industry’s latest technologies into dentists’ practices. Solea fits perfectly into the dental distributor’s portfolio of innovative products and services that empower practitioners to efficiently perform more procedures and facilitate revenue growth.

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Benco Dental Vice President of Marketing Paul Jackson

“We are thrilled to add an exciting new product to our portfolio with proven capabilities to greatly impact our customers’ bottom line and patient experience,” said Benco Dental Vice President of Marketing Paul Jackson.

Benco Dental’s tireless commitment to putting high-quality products in thousands of dentists’ offices throughout the country has made it one of the most trusted names in dentistry. The dental supplier provides strategic guidance and support on everything from cost management to the integration of high tech equipment aimed at enabling improved clinical outcomes and practice growth. Benco Dental’s role as a strategic partner to dentists is even more critical now as significant advances in science and technology introduce dozens of new tools to the market every year.

“Benco Dental’s decision to select Solea for its product portfolio speaks volumes about Convergent Dental and this dental laser,” said Dr. Hugh Flax, a Solea user and long-time Benco Dental customer. “Having replaced my erbium laser with Solea’s advanced CO2 technology, it is clear to me that Solea represents an entirely new paradigm in dentistry. Joining forces with one of the most trusted dental suppliers in North America is a tremendous union that will make it easier for more dentists to deliver an entirely new patient experience.”

Solea dentists save time from not injecting or waiting for patients to get numb, enabling four-quadrant dentistry and bloodless procedures that they would not have performed with traditional tools. They routinely perform six or more additional procedures per day as a result. Convergent Dental’s partnership with Benco Dental will help more practitioners increase their efficiency, decrease chair time and grow their revenues with the fastest-growing hard and soft tissue laser on the market.

“We are honored to partner with Benco Dental, one of the most respected, professional and knowledgeable dental suppliers in the country. Our corporate cultures are perfectly aligned, with the focus being squarely on delivering on our promises to our customers above all else,” said Convergent Dental CEO Michael Cataldo. “That priority is certain to drive ongoing success for Convergent, Benco Dental and the customers we have in common.”


Two days to join a texting challenge for Kids’ Healthy Mouths.

To coincide with National Children’s Dental Health Month, the Ad Council and The Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives are extending their successful Kids’ Healthy Mouthscampaign to encourage children to brush their teeth for two minutes, twice a day. Throughout February, the campaign announced the winners of a national video contest (one shown above). They also introduced a new SMS texting challenge (it takes less than a minute to sign up) and new characters for their popular mobile app, Toothsavers.

  • Toothsavers App Update: The widely popular mobile app Toothsavers got an update this month with three new characters (Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, and Rabbit). The new characters were announced on Kids’ Healthy Mouths social channels. Since its launch, more than 68,400 people have downloaded the app.
  • Texting Program Challenge:  Kids’ Healthy Mouths invites parents to join their free texting program which further supports the campaign’s main goal of encouraging parents to make sure their children brush their teeth for two minutes, twice a day. Texters can take part in a five-day family brushing challenge this month, and will also receive personalized tips and support. Text TOOTH to 97779 to join.

In December, the Ad Council kicked off its first ever video contest with Zooppa, the world’s leading crowd sourced marketing platform for producing creative content. The Kids’ Healthy Mouths contest called on Zooppa’s community of over 27,000 amateur and professional video makers to leverage the existing campaign strategy to create their own videos showing parents trying to give important advice in just two minutes. The final videos were reviewed by creative directors at ad agency Grey New York and the Ad Council.

The Ad Council is pleased to announce the following videos as contest winners:
Eyes on the Ball (Sam Benenati), How To Weed The Garden (Joseph Binetti), Mime (Jason Kraynek), Birds and Bees (Jason Kraynek), Children’s Oral Health Career (Sean Tracy), Big Boy Time (Justin Pinder) and Sharing (Terrence Jones) with Let’s Change the Oil (Cynthia Bravo) and The Talk (Allen Baldwin) as early entry winners.

Created pro bono by Grey New York, the Kids’ Healthy Mouths PSAs stress that while most parenting is difficult to do in two minutes, such as learning how to cook or ride a bike, making sure kids brush for two minutes, twice a day is something a little simpler. The contest winners capture the spirit of the original PSAs and feature a lighthearted look at parenting today. The videos were highlighted on the Kids Healthy Mouths social pages throughout the month of February.

“This contest and our Kids’ Healthy Mouths campaign celebrate the dedication of parents,” said Ad Council CEO and President Lisa Sherman. “This is one of our most successful campaigns because the message is simple and succinct, and the creative strategy is compelling and fun – while parenting can be challenging, this simple daily task is a bit easier.”


Kids need oral healthcare yearround

2014 LCCC Kids' Cavity Prevention Day

February is Dental Health month, but the Benco Dental Clinic helps service the community all year long.

According to, Luzerne County Community College’s Benco Dental Clinic in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania is a state-of-the art facility where, through the year, patients can visit for an intra- and extra- oral exam. This includes: oral cancer, blood pressure screening, and a complete tooth cleaning.

Students provide desensitization procedures such as:

  • Application of agents designed to reduce tooth sensitivity associated with gum recession
  • Digital X-rays, which use less radiation, are taken based upon patient need
  • Topical fluoride treatments that help strengthen teeth and prevent dental decay
  • Maintain oral health with toothbrushes, etc.

Members of the community are charged the minimal fees of $5 for children, $15 for adults and $10 for senior citizens. This service can be especially helpful to those without dental insurance.

On Saturday, March 28, the Luzerne County Community College Benco Dental Clinic will host the annual Kids’ Cavity Prevention Day, from 9 a.m. to noon. The program is for children ages three to 16, and will include dental exams, sealants, dental X-rays, oral hygiene instruction, and fluoride treatments. All services and activities are free of charge. Table clinics will be on display providing dental health information for parents and children.

From 9 a.m. to noon on April 11, the clinic will host an oral head and neck cancer screening in conjunction with the Head and Neck Alliance. Oral, head and neck cancer refers to many types of cancers but includes those that arise in the nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth, thyroid glands, salivary glands, throat or larynx (voice box). The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 121,790 new cases of cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, throat and thyroid, and 14,240 deaths from these cancers in 2015. Cancers of the oropharynx (tonsil and base of tongue) are increasing in incidence, particularly in younger non-smokers, and these cancers alone will account for over 40,000 cases per year in the U.S.

To learn more about this events, visit: