By Danny Chan
In the 1960s, the US Military came up with the acronym “KISS” (Keep It Simple Stupid) as a design principle for manufacturing jet aircrafts. Interestingly, visionary thinkers from Leonardo Da Vinci to Albert Einstein to Elon Musk have all pretty much espoused the same theory at some point, minus the acronym.
The KISS principle basically advocates keeping a workflow or system totally devoid of unnecessary complexity. The idea may be old but not redundant. It can obviously be applied to many aspects of dentistry and the implant process is no exception.
Without mentioning the acronym once, that concept kept hovering over my conversation with Matt Smith, General Manager of Andent. We were discussing about the Genuine Implant Package offered by the Melbourne-based dental laboratory.
All in the package
Explaining the idea behind their offering, Smith may as well have been extoling the tenets of the KISS principle.
The implant package, he enthuses, stems from an effort to help dentists unclutter their entire implant workflow by delivering all the required components in a single bundle.
“All that’s required from the client is for him or her to choose the material for the restoration and tell us their preferred implant modality,” says the GM.
“They can choose between a bundle that uses genuine components or one that includes a generic range.”
The Andent Implant Package includes the Titanium Base (including screw), Analogue and Andent Crown. The bundle also comes with the soft tissue model and a choice between screw-retained and cement-retained implants. The non-genuine bundle is priced at $499 and the genuine components bundle at $699.
Customers can choose from a comprehensive list of brands: Ankylos®, Astra Tech Implant System™, BioHorizons, Biomet 3i™, Blue Sky Bio, Dentium, Encode, Implant Direct, MIS®, Nobel Biocare®, Neoss™, Osstem Implant, Southern Implants, Straumann®, TRI®.
No hidden costs
Even the pricing, which basically covers everything with zero hidden costs, is designed to keep things simple.
“We’ve set the price for an all-inclusive bundle, so you know how much it's going to cost you upfront – meaning no add-on costs along the way,” Smith attests.
“When you’re seeing a patient, you would know exactly how much the lab fee is going to be. Otherwise, it can easily go into the thousands, especially if we start using precious metals and other products that we don't tend to use anymore.
“We tend to use everything that's CAD-ready, and then actually custom design it for the patient rather than just using stock abutments.”
Genuine vs non-genuine: We do both
As to why Andent is offering two versions of the bundled deal – an option between genuine and non-genuine components – Smith says it boils down to giving the customer freedom of choice.
“Some dentists will look at the cost factor, and see how they are able to reduce the cost burden for their patients. They can reduce that bill a bit using non-genuine components.
“And some people like to use the actual implant brand. Certain implant companies will only cover a warranty if you use genuine components.
“To help simplify the dentist’s decision-making process, we offer both.”
The right component
Implants are considered the elite class of tooth replacement, so patient expectations are understandably high. In addition to the quality of the final product, patients also expect a speedy turnaround with minimal delays.
To produce the desired outcome for each individual case, Smith shares, would require intimate knowledge of a plethora of different branded products and associated componentry. The time it takes to source for and select a suitable body, abutment or crown must also be factored into the efficiency of the process.
With 20-plus years of experience working at Andent, the veteran dental technician is convinced that dentists are better served when they leave the experts to choose the components for them.
“Some dentists would supply the components with the job. After sending the impression, they would order the analogue and abutment. However, what we have found is that a lot of the componentry are not suitable for the case,” he says.
“In some cases, we may have to re-order or even charge them for a new one, which would result in time delays and extra costs.
“If the dentist insists on us working with the components that they supplied, there is a risk they may not end up with the best product.”
Signed, sealed and delivered
By offering an implant package, Andent is assuming the responsibility of choosing the correct product, which they do with the help of a computerised system that trawls an extensive in-house library of neatly categorised implant components.
“We carry all the stock for all the main implant companies. That’s really important because there are like 50 different components that you could actually choose for one implant,” Smith continues.
“Dentists can find assurance in the fact that we have a highly trained team of technicians that are focused on implants. All of them are experienced and able to determine what the best product is.”
To further give dentists a peace of mind, Andent’s warranty would also cover the jobs in which the bundled products were used.
Equipped for every task
Smith’s confidence also stems from the lab’s extensive equipment set-up and Andent’s ability to manufacture all the different brands in-house. That not only speeds up production but also provides more flexibility in the outcome of the cases.
“If you wanted to mill a Straumann custom abutment, for example, you need to have the correct machinery and the correct holders to be able to do that. And you also need to be able to design and manufacture it,” he elaborates.
“Not all labs have the ability to mill titanium or cobalt chrome but we have the machines for that. We also have industrial machines that can actually manufacture for a large portion of the genuine implant companies, and obviously the expertise to use them.”
Easier way out
The all-inclusive package is about giving dentists a hassle-free and worry-free customer experience.
“One of the hardest thing with implants, especially in the lab business is that you have to learn a lot of the different systems, and what's available,” he surmises.
“We've got people that specialise in the implant area. So instead of looking for different products and having to select from a plethora of confusing options, dentists can simply use our Implant Package and tap on our knowledge and expertise.”
Once again, what Smith is trying to convey here harkens back to what the US Army and some brilliant minds have been saying all along.