Ready to Mbrace ergonomics to support wellbeing at your dental practice? Check out this design tip.

Today, successful organizations — especially dental practices — are often the ones that can generate the best ideas the fastest.  Practices rely on technology to fuel the process — sharing information on monitors, using videoconferencing to connect with colleagues, and developing content using touchscreens. But problems arise quickly when the systems and devices in use […]

Electrifying & Deadly Developments

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An early Ritter X-ray unit from the 1920s, courtesy of the museum at Benco Dental, Pittston.

The first American book on X-rays (discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen of Wurzburg, Germany) appeared in 1896 and by July of that year the intraoral fluoroscope was invented by William H. Rollins. Also in July of 1896, Dr. Charles Edmund Kells, Jr. (1856-1928) taught the first clinic on the use of X-rays in dentistry. He would go on to be fascinated by the science of X-rays and also electricity. His passion for X-rays would cost him dearly. Kells became one of the most noted of a handful of “X-ray Martyrs”.

Meet the most noted of “X-ray Martyrs”

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Photo courtesy of Jeff Sengstack

Dr. Kells, born in New Orleans, was the son of a successful dentist. In 1876 he enrolled as a student at the New York Dental College. There he met and became friendly with technicians from Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory. He started to spend time in the lab and was fascinated by Edison’s efforts in early incandescent lighting and his experiments in electricity. He could already see the applications for dentistry. It was a whole new untested frontier and he wanted to be at the forefront of it. When the Edison Electric Light Company began to supply power to major industries in New Orleans, Dr. Kells signed up for service, becoming the city’s first dentist to use street current to power his dental equipment. Kells wired his office himself and connected it to the power grid outside his office.

High hopes for the uses of electricity

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An advertisement of some of the many early dental equipment that was electrically powered.

Dr. Kells had high hopes for the uses of electricity, both in the dental office and elsewhere. Like Edison, his mind began to whirl with all sorts of new inventions, not the least of which was for an automatic electric suction pump which drained saliva, a wonderful invention that did away with using surgical sponges in both dentistry and general surgery. He also registered patents for other items powered by electricity, including an electric thermostat, a fire extinguisher, and a drinking fountain.

Between early electricity and early X-rays, the dental office was a minefield of dangers, some of which were recognized and others which had yet to appear.

While Dr. Kells’s ordeal with X-rays took time to be realized, he understood the dangers of electricity almost as soon as he hooked up his office. He was so worried about it, he sent a letter to the editor of the “Dental Cosmos”, the leading professional dental publication at the time, asking him about the risks in using electricity in the dental operatory. Even as he did so, at the same time he sent a letter to S.S. White Dental Manufacturing Company, asking if they could make electric dental instruments for him.

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A 1915 S.S.White ad, featuring electrified equipment.

The editor, Dr. Grier, responded:

“The use of commercial lighting current, as shown by the apparatus exhibited by you, their employment to give the light and heat needed and to actuate the motors employed in the dental office, opens up a fascinating and almost unlimited field of application.… Unfortunately, these currents, especially the light arc, possess an electromotive force and strength far beyond the needs of the case, and therein lies the risk of their employment.… THE POSSIBLE TRANSFERENCE OF THE CURRENT FROM THE APPARATUS TO THE PERSON OF THE OPERATOR OR THE PATIENT.…”

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An illustration of the freak accident that occurred in New York City many years earlier. This just compounded people’s fear of electricity.

There had been a scare over electricity in New York City several years earlier and people were still not over it. Eventually though, people came to accept electricity in the dental office. Harder to overcome, was the deadly repercussions of all the X-ray experiments Dr. Kells had done, using his own hands.

Now, of course, we understand what happens to repeated exposure of body parts to X-ray, cancer.

In 1913 Kells installed the first commercial X-ray unit made especially for use in dentistry. Dr. Kells, in developing his groundbreaking use of X-rays in dentistry, had developed malignant growths on his left hand. It was the beginning of years of agony. He later noted the dangers of radiation had been recognized even before then, and no knowledgeable doctor would hold a film in the mouth of his patient or in any way expose his hands to the direct rays. Eventually, he had to have the tips of his fingers of his left hand cut off. After more years of exposure, he had to have several fingers removed. That still did not stop the cancerous growths and eventually he had to have his left arm amputated.

Early X-ray machines could be dangerous for more than their radiation. As Dr. Grier had indicated in his response to Kells in “Dental Cosmos”, the electricity that powered these contraptions could also be hazardous. The exposed high-tension wires of these devices caused several serious accidents and a few fatalities by themselves.

Still, today we are indebted to Dr. Kells and other “X-ray Martyrs” like him, who helped make modern dentistry what it is today, despite the early dangers.

About the blogger

Guest blogger Jenn Ochman, Database Publishing Production Specialist in the Branding and Communication Department at Benco Dental, dedicates her time outside work to historical reenactment. She shares knowledge of dental history with TheDailyFloss.com readers on a monthly basis.

Gold! Silver! Bronze! Dental Innovations bring home the Edisons.

10 nations. 500 senior executives and their guests. More than 3000 judges. Five award-winning dental innovations.

Edison Awards announces 2019 honorees

On April 4, at the Capitale in New York City, the 2019 Edison Awards™ winners of game-changing new products and service were announced. Proving innovation has reached into all categories, the winners covered AI, robotics, consumer electronics, consumer goods, medical and dental, and social innovation.

With more than 500 senior executives and their guests in attendance, the awards were announced at a Gala dinner. The diverse group of attendees represented many nations including Australia, Canada, Philippines, Israel, Japan, China, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Dubai, and the United States.

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Dentistry: Innovation at its finest

Five dental discoveries earned awards at Thursday’s celebration. Read about them here and hear from the inventors who brought them to life at: https://www.incisaledgemagazine.com/mag/article/the-2019-edison-awards/

CATEGORY: DENTAL TREATMENTS

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Invisalign treatment with mandibular advancement is the first clear aligner solution for Class II correction in growing tween and teen patients. This new offering combines the benefits of the most advanced clear aligner system in the world with features for moving the lower jaw forward while simultaneously aligning the teeth.

  • SILVER AWARD

Bond Apatite® by Augma Biomaterials®

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Augma’s innovation is based on a patent which revolutionizes bone grafting procedures before placing implants. The material completely transforms into a patient’s own bone without using additives. Placement is immediate, allowing less invasive procedures with far better results. Healing time shortens tremendously with high predictability and a 95% success rate.

  • BRONZE AWARD

Airway Armor™ by Zirc Dental Products Inc.

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Dental objects are the second most common object that are ingested or aspirated in adults. Airway Armor is an easy-to-place, comfortable device designed to protect patients from aspirating or ingesting unwanted dental materials. It is a unique product in the dental industry because there is nothing like it on the market. Not only does it protect the patient, but also protects the Dr. from potential malpractice litigation.

 

CATEGORY: DIAGNOSTICS

  • SILVER AWARD

Goccles® by Pierrel Pharma S.r.L.

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GOCCLES is an FDA approved medical device with patented lenses that allows the observation of the fluorescence of the healthy mucosa and the detection of suspicious pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions, which appear as dark areas on a green background and are sometimes barely or totally invisible to the naked eye.

  • BRONZE AWARD

 

CS 9600 cone beam computed tomography system by Carestream Dental

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Highly intelligent and innovative, the CS 9600 delivers outstanding precision at every exam, for every user. This customizable five-in-one system gives doctors the flexibility to meet every clinical need and provide their patients with the best care, from examining the minute details of a canal to planning for orthognathic surgery.

WHAT DOES AN EDISON AWARD SIGNIFY?

Being recognized with an Edison Award has become one of the highest accolades a company can receive in the name of innovation and business. The awards are named after Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) whose inventions, new product development methods and innovative achievements that changed the world, garnered him 1,093 U.S. patents and made him a household name around the world.

“After 32 years, it never ceases to amaze us how innovations that we could only dream about become our reality. Once again, the winners created innovations that are revolutionizing industries and becoming indispensable,” said Frank Bonafilia, executive director of the Edison Awards.

The ballot of nominees for the Edison Awards was judged by a panel of more than 3,000 leading business executives including past award winners, academics and leaders in the fields of product development, design, engineering, science and medical.

One of the evening’s many highlights was the presentation of the prestigious Edison Achievement Award to Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of IBM. The award honors innovation leaders and business executives who have made a significant and lasting contribution to innovation throughout their careers. Over the past seven years, Ms. Rometty has led IBM through the most significant transformation in its history. The company has become the world leader in AI and cloud computing for business and garnered the most patents in history.

In addition to the Awards Gala, the annual Edison Awards program encompassed a full-day Meet the Innovators Forum and the Innovators’ Showcase, which offered guests a hands-on experience with many of the winning products including IBM Q (quantum), DropKey Studio in a Bag, Power Dolphin and more.

Benco Dental acquires Dart Dental

Nation’s largest family-owned dental distribution company announces first acquisition in 2019 Benco Dental, the nation’s largest family-owned dental distributor in the United States, today announces plans to acquire Connecticut-based Dart Dental Supply (shown) on April 29, 2019. This is Benco’s first significant acquisition in the Northeast region in the past several years. Dart Dental was […]

#ie40Under40 From teeth to chickens — how Dr. Wenfei Wang’s art skills benefit patients, kids … and her mother-in-law!

At her Endodontics practice in Chicago, Dr. Wenfei Wang uses her clinical skills to relieve patients from pain and her artistic abilities to ease their mind. Sometimes she’ll just pick up a notepad and create a quick sketch to illustrate how a procedure will benefit their oral health or to help them better understand the […]