Monday, December 12, 2011

Consequences of talented craftsman leaving the dental laboratory industry

Workmanship already extinct
Properly constructed partial frame soon to become extinct

Partial constructed out of thermoplastic material

Thermoplastic partial after settling in the patient’s mouth

Thermoplastic single tooth replacement

Consequences of talented craftsman leaving the dental laboratory industry

With the disappearance of talented craftsman from the dental laboratory industry, anything that makes dental appliances initially acceptable to patients has became welcomed by dentists. With partial dentures, this first started out by replacing the metal used in its construction with extremely soft metal. When the frame of the partial does not fit right, soft metal allows dentists to perform excessive adjustments to it with reduced risk of fracture. It also allows dental laboratories to increase production while paying less attention to precision during the stages of design and construction.

Unfortunately, once put into active use by the patient, the disadvantages of such metal flexibility become apparent.  Soft metal clasps loosen easily and fail to provide adequate retention.  A delicate major connector (the major part of the frame that connects all the parts together) constructed out of soft metal bends easily and develops a rock. Soft metal construction also carries other disadvantages.  Because of its relative lack of resilience, the frame must be constructed thicker and as a result reduces comfort and increases metal exposure.  Since soft metal is not exempt from fracture, the advantages of its passivity are overcome by its shortcomings and problems it creates.

As I explained in an article that was published on February 21, 2003 in the Chicago Sun-Times, entitled Brain drain threatens dental health, “If the experienced talent continues to leave the removable sector of the industry at the same rate, soon there will be no one left to teach the next generation of technicians.” Just think how many baby boomers are in need of partials and providing them with state of the art removable appliances would improve the quality of life for many. I used to construct partials for professional hockey players who took them out for the game. Most of them get their knocked out teeth replaced with implants or bridges only after they retire from the sport. Their quality of life is being compromised as well.

Today, dental manufacturers know that soon there will be no quality dental technicians left and are doing everything possible to improve computer-generated automation.  In the meantime, profits must be maintained and the push for mega labs with employees with no experience that are hired off the street is on the rise. Dentists are also sending out their appliances to be constructed in China, where as reported by NBC, “There are concerns that the lead found in Chinese toys may also be showing up in implants, crowns and dentures from China and India.”

With the disappearance of partial denture framework technicians, today the metal that is used in partials  is being replaced with flexible thermoplastic material which requires even less accuracy than partials constructed out of soft metal. Flexible partials made out of thermoplastic material are extremely bulky and affects comfort and speech. In addition, because flexible partials lack metal rests and clasps that are needed to prevent the partial from settling, in time the denture teeth loose contact with the opposing dentition, the flexible clasps fail to provide retention and these types of partials become non-functional appliances. Today, some dentists are even beginning to sell single tooth replacements made out of thermoplastic material that can be chocking hazards.
Besides what has been exposed by NBC, where’s Fox news or the rest of the media whom I’ve contacted numerous times about problems in dentistry. It’s either that the dental industry invests a lot of money to keep things hush or investigative journalism is dead?

By Arvid Saunaitis

Friday, December 10, 2010

Health Alert: Snap-on teeth- NBC News

(Chicago) Aug. 17, 2004 - Money can buy just about anything, including a movie star smile. But, that mouthful of pearly white caps and veneers loses some of its shine if it costs tens of thousands of dollars.
Now there's a new alternative that costs only a fraction. Chicago dental technician Arvid Saunaitis invented a new smile for himself first. He says his upper teeth were so bad his wife said he talked like a ventriloquist without moving his lips, "I did not smile. I was embarrassed with my teeth."
Arvid works from a dental impression, and the custom models he creates actually snap on to the back teeth. He says it took a while to get used to, but now he wears it all the time.
This is how it all began. After the appliance that I invented was broadcasted on NBC local news stations around the country and on MSNBC, (Video URL: became an instant hit, (Figure1-Overlay Cosmetic Appliance).
Figure 1. Overlay Cosmetic Appliance

Soon after, few dentists determined to cash in on the popularity of my appliance presented a plastic appliance that has been around for thirty years and mostly used in movies to create various characters. My appliance has metal chewing surface, is very durable and it took me ten years to develop. Their so claimed invented appliance showed up a month after mine, (Figure2-all plastic snap on appliance that they claim is better because it has no metal reinforcement).
Figure 2. All plastic snap on appliance

They also claimed that the acrylic they used is newly invented and flexible. If such new acrylic did exist, it would have other dental applications and would be widely publicized in dental journals. However it is not.
Confused? Read the following and be your own judge:
The Overlay Cosmetic Appliance by Arvid Saunaitis
The following is brought to you by Forum for Prosthetic Dentistry
People who have worn and discolored teeth are embarrassed and do not smile much. The corrective procedure that involves opening the vertical by crowning the back teeth and placing porcelain veneers or crowns over the anterior teeth is expensive and too invasive for some patients. Personally having dark and worn teeth, I devoted many hours to find an alternative. After my dentist took the impressions, I constructed an aesthetic and functional bite opening appliance that restores the vertical and length of teeth by covering the worn and discolored dentition. The first appliance (Figure3-Appliance designed allows any section to be replaced in the future), was designed to allow any section of the appliance to be removed and replaced with crowns or veneers in the future.
 The completed appliance (Figure 4-My new look) changed my appearance instantly. The only part of the appliance that took longer to get accustomed to was the anterior bar extending into the lingual palatal areas. Even though it was thin and in perfect contact with the tissue, it took two weeks for the tongue to get accustomed to the bar. Two weeks after wearing the appliance, my speech became better with the appliance in place than without it. At that time I decided not to proceed with my original plan to have my vertical and aesthetics restored with porcelain crowns and veneers. Instead, I constructed a new appliance by changing its design and eliminating all palatal coverage. The result of my effort I called the Overlay Cosmetic Appliance seen in Figure 5-(Overlay Cosmetic Appliance). With no palatal coverage (Figure 6-Occlusal-incisal view), the appliance was very comfortable, did not interfere with speech and it did not bulk out the lip or cheeks. The appliance also did not expose any metal.
Figure 3. Design allows any section to be replaced in the future
Figure 4. My new look

Figure 5. Overlay Cosmetic Appliance
Figure 6. Occlusal-incisal view

Other Uses and Benefits:
Less expensive and invasive as compared to crowns and porcelain veneers.
Does not require long numerous appointments to perform tooth preparations.
Can replace missing teeth and share the shock of mastication with the overlaid abutments and saddle areas.
Repairs can be performed to accept additions.
Be utilized with implants, crowns and attachments.
The restored vertical prevents TMJ problems.
Can correct malocclusion.
Unlike porcelain crowns, the metal onlays do not fracture.
Wear resistant to opposing porcelain crowns or denture teeth.
Shade can be modified at any time.
Can close diastimas and make crowded teeth look straight.
So far I have been wearing my appliance for eight years and did not have any cavities or gum related issues. The following slides are of my appliance:
Figure 7. My dark and abraded dentition
Figure 8. My maxilla
Figure 9. Metal onlays covering occlusal surfaces
Figure 10. Uniform appearance at the gum line
Figure 11. My new look

Slides of different patient:
Figure 12. Patient’s before look
Figure13. Patient’s over closed vertical
Figure14. Restored lower
Figure15. Restored upper
Figure16. Patient’s new look
After the news story about the Overlay Cosmetic Appliance was aired and published in various dental journals and newspapers, over a thousand dentist showed interest in my appliance. However, because I could not find anyone I could train to make the appliance, (the ones that I attempted to work with were to uncooperative to train), and all the dental manufacturers I contacted refused to alter their existing dental equipment and supplies to ease the construction process of the Overlay Cosmetic Appliance, I decided that I had enough, sold my dental lab and left the dental industry. The clincher was when attorneys representing the plastic appliance contacted me on the phone and told me that there’s a patent out and I can no longer continue to further construct or promote my appliance. The Overlay Cosmetic Appliance is no longer available and no one since was able to replicate the appliance.