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The Group Dentistry Now Show: The Voice Of The DSO Industry – Episode 25

The special markets team from Air Techniques address how the COVID-19 crisis has clinicians concerned with not only with fluid and debris removal, but also capturing aerosols. Ideally it is best to safely evacuate aerosols before they even leave the mouth. Now, there is a way to do that – it is a dry vacuum option that provides the best of both worlds –fluid and debris removal, as well as aerosol removal. If you want to learn how to manage aerosols in today’s stringent infection control environment, this podcast is for you!

Our podcast series brings you dental support and emerging dental group practice analysis, conversation, trends, news and events. Listen to leaders in the DSO and emerging dental group space talk about their challenges, successes, and the future of group dentistry.

The Group Dentistry Now Show: The Voice of the DSO Industry has listeners across the North & South America, Australia, Europe, and Asia. If you like our show, tell a friend or a colleague.

Watch the entire video podcast with Shaun Taylor, Steve Aaron and Deb Bridges below. 

Review the Air Techniques Aerosol Management video

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FULL TRANSCRIPT

Bill Neumann:

I’d like to welcome everyone to the Group Dentistry Now Show. I’m Bill Neumann. We actually have three guests here today. I think this is a first for us having three. We normally have one or two, but we’ve got pretty much the entire representation for Special Markets for Air Techniques. A lot of veterans that we have on today, and they’re going to talk about their experience in the DSO space and the dental industry and how COVID has really been effecting dental practices and some things that dental practices, DSOs and emerging groups can do really as you start to reopen and really reopen safely and effectively. So thanks.

Bill Neumann:

I’m going to do a quick intro to everybody here. I think most people know Air Techniques, but if you don’t know who Air Techniques is, they are a market leader in air, vacuum and digital imaging. They’ve got a lot of insight into a lot of different areas in the dental space right now. We’re going to dig deep with Steve Aaron, Shaun Taylor and Deb Bridges. Quick introduction for those of you that don’t know these folks, because you’ve certainly seen them at a lot of DSO events when we used to have them. It’s great to have you on this podcast.

Bill Neumann:

Shaun Taylor; Shaun resides in Jupiter, Florida with his wife. He has four children. He’s been in the dental industry … so these are things that I didn’t know … for 23 years. I thought I was around for a long time; Shaun’s 23 years. And then I think actually Steve’s longer than that, and Deb is as well. So we really have veterans here. 23 years. First 20 years, Shaun was on the distribution side of the business, and then the last three years he’s been with Air Techniques and he’s fortunate enough to earn the spot of Associate Director of Special Markets at Air Tech. Shaun, welcome to the Group Dentistry Now Show.

Shaun Taylor:

Thank you.

Bill Neumann:

Just to give you a little background; what is an Associate Director of Special Markets? He’s responsible for DSOs, dental institutions and government sales throughout North America.

Bill Neumann:

Next up we have Deb Bridges. Deb joined Air Tech in 2020, this year. She is with the Special Markets division, like everybody else here. She’s been in the dental industry for 40 years, all on the manufacturing side. She spent 10 years in special markets, spent a lot of time with DentalEZ, also with Centrix, and then just recently, besides Air Techniques, she was with Paradise Dental Technologies. A lot of people know them as PDT. She serves on the board of ADEA, the Corporate Council and the Chair for CRET, which is Centers for Research in Education and Technology. She’s not too far away from our corporate headquarters. She’s in Philadelphia, a suburb of Philadelphia, Westchester. She enjoys spending free time with all of her extended family, nieces and nephews, swims, biking, golf, cooking, and apparently she likes Japanese restaurants. Welcome, Deb.

Deb Bridges:

Thank you so much, Bill. Thanks for having me.

Bill Neumann:

Good to have you here. This is the second time you’ve been on the show.

Deb Bridges:

Yeah, it’s always a pleasure. Thank you.

Bill Neumann:

Last but not least, we have Steve Aaron. Steve is also a veteran. He’s based in Northern California and he is responsible for DSOs and special market customers that have their home offices, their support centers based out of the Western and Southwestern United States. Steve has over 30 years of dental manufacturing and distribution experience, focused really on not just equipment and technology sales, but also operations, facility design and leadership, so a vast array of experience. Thanks Steve. He holds a degree in aquatic biology … I think that’s like a pre-req if you’re from California; you have to have that … from UC Santa Barbara. Steve, welcome.

Steve Aaron:

Yes. Thank you. Great to be here.

Bill Neumann:

Okay. That was a lot of information, so there’s a quiz at the end of this for everybody. No, I’m just kidding.

Bill Neumann:

Let’s get into the questions now. There’s obviously a lot going on with COVID and I think it’s really important to realize at the time of this recording a lot of practices and DSOs have either opened most of their locations up or just about all of them. I think a lot of them, depending on the state you’re in and maybe the clinicians in those particular practices all have opened up differently. Some might not be completely open; some may have a lot of questions around certain things. I really want to tackle one issue, big issue in particular, which is aerosol management. Let’s discuss that.

Bill Neumann:

Shaun’s going to help us with this one here. Discuss aerosol management, and then let’s talk about Air Tech and how your position really to help these DSOs and emerging groups deal with aerosol management.

Shaun Taylor:

Okay great. Yeah. Thanks for having us Bill.

Shaun Taylor:

When we speak about aerosol management, the number one factor we need to address is the amount of air flow required to effectively remove those aerosols in question. There really are two important characteristics to a robust evacuation system. The first is its ability to create high levels of negative pressure. That negative pressure created by vacuums allows the practitioner to remove all the fluids and debris from inside the oral cavity. But the second characteristic, and just as equally important, is the vacuum’s ability to maximize airflow, or what our engineers call CFM; cubic feet per minute. Flow created with the vacuum unit, allows the system to move air through the suction lines and capture those airborne pathogens that everyone’s concerned about today.

Shaun Taylor:

I am very proud to say for the last 57 years Air Techniques has manufactured wet and dry systems that are engineered to provide the perfect balance of both negative pressure and flow.

Bill Neumann:

So for 57 years, that’s amazing. It seems to be all of a sudden that’s become top of mind, even though you’ve been doing it for almost six decades now.

Shaun Taylor:

Yes exactly. We’re proud to say that. It’s really interesting to see the evolution of the products over those 57 years. We’re constantly improving the product lines and coming out with new technologies.

Bill Neumann:

Let’s talk a little bit, since you’re a leader in the industry, what do you see as the biggest issues facing dental offices as they begin to reopen? Like I said, some are beginning to reopen; some have been open maybe for only a couple of weeks now, all at different stages. As you talk to your DSO Customers, you’re merging group customers, what are you hearing? What are you seeing?

Shaun Taylor:

Yeah, another good question. We believe many of the offices already are experiencing increased demands on the suction system. For example, we know hygienists are beginning to replace the saliva ejector with an HVE, and they’re choosing to use an intraoral device or extraoral suction device that will require definitely more power and more flow.

Bill Neumann:

Why would this be really an issue?

Shaun Taylor:

Well I think it all goes back to when that office opened up. When vacuum systems are initially sold to dental practices, they’re sized on the total number of simultaneous HVEs and saliva ejectors being used. An HVE is considered one user; a saliva ejector is only half of a user. So my concern, our concern is that some offices may not be able to support that increased demand on their systems.

Bill Neumann:

This is something that practices, DSOs are really just discovering now. It’s happening as they have that increased demand all of a sudden. What are the options? What do they do? Where can they go? It seems like this is going to be something that’s going to be ongoing and maybe they’ve never experienced before because of that increased demand.

Shaun Taylor:

Right. I would recommend starting with consulting with your local dental dealer and equipment specialist. They should be able to provide you with a comprehensive evaluation of not only your evacuation lines, but your vacuum system in general. After that inspection, you’re probably going to have two choices; expand your current capabilities by adding additional motors to the system, or you might have to explore other options to upgrade that utility room to meet those new demands.

Bill Neumann:

Okay so … Go ahead.

Shaun Taylor:

Yeah, no problem.

Shaun Taylor:

I think the good news is if you’re a current Air Techniques’ customer and the practice owns either a VacStar or Mojave system, they are engineered that they have the option to expand these systems without full replacement of motors or tanks in case of a dry backing scenario.

Bill Neumann:

So check with your local dental dealer, and then they’ll do an evaluation. And then from an upgrade standpoint, you talked about an upgrade. Deb, why don’t you help us out a little bit? What are the options? Tell us a little bit about that need to upgrade. Just take us through that scenario.

Deb Bridges:

Well if in fact the office does need to upgrade, that would depend on the type of vacuum system currently installed. That could include, as Shaun had mentioned one or two types; a wet-ring system, like our VacStar or dry system, like our Mojave. When you couple this with an assessment or evaluation of the vacuum needs of the practice, the best solution will be determined and recommended for that practice going forward. So that should help assess all the needs and address all of the needs of that particular practice at any given moment in time.

Bill Neumann:

Okay, so there’s a couple of different options. Can you give us advantages one over the other? What are the differences?

Deb Bridges:

Sure. Well first let me start with saying that the primary focus of the practice today in today’s environment coming out of COVID or whatever we’re coming into that new norm, the practice should be focused on containing aerosols where they begin in the oral cavity. Air Techniques has identified this and called it zone one. That is in the oral cavity where all aerosols emanate from. That’s where they begin.

Deb Bridges:

Wet-ring systems, as Shaun mentioned, have a high vacuum rate, but current dental environment is not only concerned with fluid and debris removal, but also capturing aerosols, and these systems will be less efficient at doing that. Only our Mojave dry vacuum system uses a regenerative side channel blower, and that technology offers the best balance between vacuum and flow rate that is needed in the current dental environment. So a practice will now get what I call the best of three worlds; fluid and debris removal, as well as aerosol containment.

Deb Bridges:

Maybe we should call this the trifecta of vacuum capability; a nod to horse racing season. You know I love those analogies Bill, especially sports. So there you go.

Deb Bridges:

Having said that, words are great, but in our lab, we have tested and proven that our system can remove aerosols from zone one, where it starts at a greater rate than any other wet or dry dental vacuum system currently available. In addition, the flow rate stays consistent across the widest range of vacuum demands, sustaining high levels of flow with multiple users without compromise.

Bill Neumann:

That’s great to hear Deb. It sounds like with this type of system or this type of upgrade, if you need it, that you’re not only going to make the patients safer and feel safer, but then also your hygienists and your assistance and the staff as well.

Deb Bridges:

That is correct. And we’re all about containing it where it starts. Not when it gets into the atmosphere and into those additional zones, but where it starts is zone one and that’s what we’re concerned with. We’ve upped our game, and at the top of it with that Mojave system.

Bill Neumann:

Well that’s great, Deb. Thank you, Deb.

Bill Neumann:

Steve, this one’s for you. I actually have a couple of questions for you. Let’s talk a little bit about the advantages you see, and the practices the DSOs that you work with are seeing when they’re using the Mojave system in particular.

Steve Aaron:

Thanks Bill. Really not only does the Mojave give the best combination of vacuum and flow, but as Shaun has mentioned, the Mojave’s able to grow and expand as the demands of the dental practice have changed, especially with additional HVEs to control aerosols and even adding more operatories to the facilities. Because the Mojave again is modular, facilities just can add an additional motor, up to four, to expand, so you don’t have to remove the entire system as you do with some manufacturers’ products. You can stack the motors on top of each other, or place them side by side if you have room in the mechanical room, but there’s also some awesome other advantages when it comes to cost savings, both with water and energy as well.

Bill Neumann:

Steve, let’s talk a little bit more. Let’s expand on the cost savings. Talk a little bit more about that please.

Steve Aaron:

Yeah. Thank you. Wet-ring pumps can use as much as two to three gallons of water per minute at a cost of several thousands of dollars per year. The Mojave’s a dry vacuum and the only water that’s used is a little bit of water that automatically rinses the collection tank at the end of the day. The Mojave also does help with energy savings. Many vacuum systems, it’s interesting, they run continuously full speed throughout the day. The Mojave has a couple of really unique features to help save energy. One is called the variable frequency drive, or VFD, and the Mojave master control, or MMC.

Steve Aaron:

Now the variable frequency drive it’s used to take the motor from idle to higher speeds. It ramps up the CFM and suction when the demand is requested by the office. I kind of think of it as a car when it’s idling at the stop sign, and then the VFD is to gas pedal, it speeds the motor up when it’s time to go, when we actually need it. The MMC is the brains of the vacuum, and it’s basically an onboard computer that controls turning on additional motors when needed. And it really is a best practice for DSOs to have redundancy in their motors, but the MMC will balance the multi-motor usage to extend the system life. It actually runs self-diagnostic cycles every four hours at nighttime, provides the diagnostic information back to the office and even manages the tank rinse cycle to keep the collection tank clean.

Bill Neumann:

Wow. I never realized the difference between the wet and the dry. I knew they existed. I didn’t realize the difference, especially when it comes to water usage. That’s really amazing. And also the variants and you have the pump running full speed all day, versus the variable. Thanks, Steve.

Bill Neumann:

Shaun, if you want to kind of tie off everything together here. I think this is really an important topic when we talk about aerosol management. I think, as you mentioned earlier all three of you, as practices start to reopen these are going to be issues that are going to come up and they’re coming up now and they’re going to continue to come up, and I think DSO, merging groups, they need to be aware of what these practices are going to encounter as they put that added strain on their back systems.

Shaun Taylor:

Yeah. Bill, we’re extremely honored to be here with you today and to speak to the group of DSOs around the country. I just say to wrap things up; at Air Techniques we’re just very proud to support many of the national, regional and local DSOs. The air compressor dental vacuum are often referred to as the heart and lungs of the practice. Working side by side, they’re both very important to a safe and productive practice. And especially during this critical time, we’re honored to be your trusted advisor, providing clients with the most reliable cost-effective and highest performing utility solutions in the industry. So again, thanks for your time.

Bill Neumann:

This has been really enlightening for me personally, and I’m sure our audience is, like I said, probably running into some of these issues or concerns right now. I’ll end this podcast with this note; we recently did a survey of DSOs and asked them some questions. Two of the questions were COVID related. The last one was what products were you looking for? What solutions were you looking for to help some issues that you may encounter or may help you better serve your patients in a safe manner during the COVID crisis and after? Aerosol management and products related to that were one of the many, and PPE as well, one of the things that a lot of the DSOs, and we had 37 North American DSOs, and 20 that responded, and that was high up there on the list. So this is going to be an important podcast.

Bill Neumann:

I want again to thank the Air Techniques folks here. Deb Bridges, I appreciate you being here again, second time. Shaun, thank you very much for taking the time with us. And Steve, thank you as well. Wealth of knowledge here. Until next time we appreciate everybody being part of the Group Dentistry Now Show. Thanks again, Air Techniques.

 

 

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