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Q&A: Ultraguide—What Goes Into a Product Launch?

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At the CDA Meeting in Anaheim, Convergent Dental announced the availability of the 8/400, 8/600, and 8/1200 hollow waveguides for its precision-engineered Ultraguide Solea handpiece. The new hollow waveguides expand the breadth of applications for Solea, enabling dentists to perform procedures in the periodontal pocket in addition to all of the other hard- and soft-tissue procedures for which the dental laser is becoming so well known.

DPS had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Convergent Dental CEO Mike Cataldo at CDA to find out what goes into launching a new product at a trade show that is associated with one of the best lasers on the market.

Q: How will this new product help practitioners?

A: Like any early stage of product development, the first question that has to be asked is, “Will it solve a problem people can perceive?” In the case of the Solea laser, it solves a real problem of cutting teeth without anesthesia. The fastest-cutting dental laser on the market has received significant traction within the dental community because of its ability to deliver consistently anesthesia-free and blood-free procedures. Without having to inject patients or wait for patients to get numb, practitioners perform multi-quadrant dentistry and significantly increase their production. Solea dentists report performing many additional procedures per day, which increases revenues in the tens of thousands of dollars per month.

The Ultraguide handpiece, which was just recently launched at Chicago Midwinter in February, is delivered with the industry’s first automatic alignment system, which detects the center point of the laser’s 0.25 mm beam and communicates wirelessly with Solea to precisely position it through the exact center of the hollow waveguide’s opening. The hollow waveguides are each 8 mm long and have 400, 600, and 1200 micron inner diameters, giving practitioners the ability to choose the right tool for the job anywhere in the oral cavity—from soft-tissue cutting to accessing the periodontal pocket.

Q: What’s an interesting tidbit or fact that the general public (dentist community) might not know?

A: Solea is the first CO2 laser system ever cleared by the FDA for hard- and soft-tissue ablation. When we were going through FDA approval, we went down to Washington and met with the FDA and exposed them to everything we were planning to submit  related to our product, the Solea laser. We reviewed the application with them the same way we sell Solea; with complete transparency. The result was valuable feedback from the reviewers that we used to modify the application. Because we operated in such a manner, the product was cleared within 90 days, which is a very short amount of time for FDA approval. 

Q: How has Solea been received up to this point?

A: Solea offers dentists with a seamless hard- and soft-tissue management with 1 tool and no anesthesia. Since launching, it’s been a 2014 Medical Design Excellence Awards Gold Winner, was featured in Popular Science’s “Best of What’s New” (December 2014 issue), was listed in BuzzFeed - 14 Amazing Technological Advances Invented In 2014, and was also an Edison Awards Gold Winner. Those awards and mentions found us; we didn’t submit anything to be considered for them. 

Q: What is unique about this product?

A: We developed a tool that can sense where the beam is and can auto-align to shoot through the new waveguides. Galvonometers are computer-controlled motors that move mirrors inside the handpiece. The mirrors manipulate the beam thousands of times per second, creating patterns that are perfect for the tissue you are cutting, be it enamel, dentin, or soft tissue. Galvonometers are a key component in Computer Aided Preparation (CAP), which gives you speed, accuracy and control unprecedented in a dental laser. If you’ve ever seen a plastic water bottle that has a date etched on it, that was done by  galvonometers. The bottle moves by the laser at 60 mph and the galvonometers laser etch the date in. This is the same technology Solea uses to optimize delivery of energy for the job at hand.

Featured in image is DPS Associate Editor Jason Schwartz and Convergent Dental CEO Mike Cataldo.

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