As Dürr UK celebrates 20 years in UK dentistry, Seb Evans visits the head office in Kettering to find out why it has become so popular.

‘The best for you – worldwide’ is Dürr Dental’s slogan. Although a little ambiguous it’s a lot to live up to. Competition in dental manufacturing is fierce and Dürr Dental is competing across a number of different areas making ‘The best for you’ even more ambitious.

Based in Kettering, Dürr UK has a huge warehouse stocked high with new products, spare parts and staff on hand to speak to customers. ‘We started from zero and it’s been a steady expansion over the last 20 years,’ Ian Pope, managing director of Dürr Dental UK, said when explaining how Dürr UK had grown to where it is now. ‘In 1998 we went from having no base in the UK, to employing staff. We started in a small factory unit in Wellingborough. Then we grew and took over the unit next door after a couple of years. Finally, after further growth, we decided to buy the warehouse where we are based now.’

There have been many reasons for the growth, but the one Ian is most proud of is the after sales service. At the Dürr warehouse is a support technician, who can solve all software-related issues, some of which can be done remotely. Using a programme called Team Viewer, customers can call in to Dürr UK and the technicians can access the practice’s computer solving any software problems there and then, minimising downtime in the practice. ‘We’ve even installed a complete network of software on one of the Scottish islands remotely, from Kettering’, Ian proudly boasts.

On the rare occasion it might be a hardware fault, Dürr UK has a fully-equipped workshop downstairs for the team to repair faults. ‘We also have a loan service,’ Ian explains. ‘So, if a scanner goes down for example, the practice can phone in to say they’ve got a problem. If we find it’s not software, it’s a hardware issue, we’ll send out a loan scanner in a special transport case, which the practice only has to plug in. Once plugged in our technicians can initiate it all from here and get it working. The practice then puts their scanner back in that transport case, we’ll arrange for it to be picked up. Once it comes back to us we’ll fix it and send it back. There is minimal down time.’

One of the more recent moves from Dürr UK has been into the imaging sector, launching its own range of X-ray machines in 2012.

‘We’ve traditionally been associated with processing X-rays for almost as long as the company has existed,’ Ian explained. Leading the way, Dürr Dental started to develop digital imaging plate technology in 2002, which offered clear advantages such as:

  • Being much more comfortable for patients
  • All intra and extraoral formats
  • Excellent image quality
  • High greyscale range
  • Reusable
  • Flexible and thin as film
  • Use of standard image plate holder systems.

The processing of X-rays took a huge leap forward from wet-film processing to digital plates, but X-ray machines have been slow to fulfil this potential. So Dürr decided to launch its own digital X-ray technology.

‘We developed a technique and a product called the Vistascan (Figure 1), which totally changed the way X-ray processing was done with phosphor plates,’ Ian explained. ‘When it first launched, phosphor plate imaging systems were a very poor relation to the sensor-type digital system. With the help of some very clever development engineers in Germany, we basically turned this system on its head and now, instead of becoming the poor relation, it’s actually the industry standard. We developed the Vistascan to be capable of providing high quality X-rays. Now we’ve even surpassed that and we have the highest resolution on the market.’

Figure 1: Vistascan

The Vista range now includes:

  • Vistacam – high quality intraoral cameras that can detect caries lesions and plaque formation
  • Vistaintra – a sleekly designed, intraoral X-ray arm, which is easy to handle for ergonomic positioning (Figure 5)
  • Vistapano – a slim, extremely fast, panoramic X-ray machine with a 7” touchscreen display (Figure 4)
  • Vistascan – a compact, fast and flexible digital X-ray viewer with internal memory, flexible PC connections and image plates
  • Vistaray 7 – the seventh generation of X-ray sensors, which includes an imaging iPad app for mobile working.

One of the big advantages with the Vistascan in particular, is that it has a memory. If, for example, a practice network goes down, the dentist can continue to work, even using the inbuilt screen for diagnostic possibilities, and then when the network comes back up it will synchronise with the practice software.

‘Many end users like everything to be from the same manufacturer,’ Ian said. ‘It means your panoramic X-ray and the scanner all talk to the same software on the same computer, rather than having messy interfaces with lots of different computers. It was a logical way to go, for Dürr to create the whole concept. We’re almost a one-stop shop and it means only dealing with one supplier, making life a lot easier.’

Figure 2: Dürr’s hygiene range

Vacuums and compressors are the unsung hero of many surgeries (Figure 3), if they stop working – the practice stops working. It’s in this area that Dürr made its name and so you’d expect it to be leading the field here too.

Dürr Dental was the first to create the dry line system. ‘Compressors are used in lots of different industries, but the air expelled isn’t dry, it’s not hygienic enough for medical use,’ Ian explained. ‘Dürr pioneered medical-grade compressors.’

In dentistry it’s very important air is clean and dry. Many traditional compressors are oil based and some of this oil goes into the air which dentists are using to dry cavities before they fill them. This moisture can also help to grow bacteria. So, Dürr Dental pioneered oil-free, dry air, which it now calls dental air. On top of this, Dürr’s compressors are registered as medical devices, meaning they undergo a lot more rigorous testing, but this ensures dentists know they are getting the most optimal machine for their practice.

‘Compressors are probably one of the few products where the dentist can go away from dentistry to purchase the product if they don’t fully understand what they are buying,’ Ian says. ‘You might wander into Halfords and see something that looks remotely similar to one of our compressors but costs 10% of the price. This will then lead to further issues, for example, many dentists might not realise their composite is failing because they’re using non-dental air and then they’re blaming the composite manufacturer.

‘As a family we used to go to a dentist in Mowbray. A few years ago, their compressor went down. The dentist at the time came to me for a compressor. He basically came to me because I was a patient and he wanted it cheap. About a year later I went to see him, he was a straight-speaking person. He said: “Ian, I never used to believe that bull**** you used to say about clean and dry air, but my composite failure level in this practice has gone right down since we’ve had your compressor”.’

The latest, and probably most impressive, compressor in the Dürr range is the Quattro Tandem. This is an eight-surgery compressor with an electronic interface. With most of the latest compressors, Dürr can ‘talk’ to them remotely, so they’re set up perfectly for the practice. They will also now remind the dentist when they need servicing, so the dentist can forget about upkeep until they receive an email.

Another innovation from Dürr is the ability to connect two compressors to one line. Traditionally this couldn’t be done, the compressors would fight with each other and not provide any air to the surgery. Dürr has developed a system where a practice can have two compressors connected on one line, a master and slave. This could be useful if a practice has recently expanded, it can add a second compressor to the same line rather than buying a whole new compressor for the practice, or it could simply provide an extra back up.

Figure 3: Dürr’s latest compressors and vacuums

The Vector Principle is the latest in ultrasonic care from Dürr Dental. Sonic and ultrasound instruments have become well established with periodontal treatment. However, ultrasonic instruments have one major disadvantage – often they move elliptically, meaning that even vibration-free work is not always possible on every tooth surface.

This can cause irritation for the patient and potentially undesirable substance loss on root surfaces.

The Vector Principle deflects ultrasound energy in a linear direction, parallel with the root surface. This offers clinical efficiency and low-trauma treatment even when working with ultrasonic energy. Benefits include:

  • Targeting the causes of periodontitis
  • Gentle and effective removal of bacteria and biofilm
  • Efficient removal of concentrations without irritation
  • Retention of as much regenerative tissue as possible
  • Cleaning of root surfaces down to the bottom of the pockets
  • No damage to soft tissue or root surfaces.
Figure 4: Vistapano and Vistavox

Dürr Dental helped to develop one of the first disinfectant for suction units back in 1965. Now dentists worldwide use the Dürr System Hygiene (Figure 2) for comprehensive protection of their surgeries.

Dürr offers four colours to cover four different areas:

  • Blue for instruments
  • Green for surfaces
  • Pink for skin and hands
  • Yellow for special areas.

It’s products are all up to date with legal regulations and amendments and contain only biological degradable products. Alongside the hygiene range, Dürr offers training courses, staff training sessions and on-site consulting.

Figure 5: Vistaintra

‘We’re very much a German company, very forward thinking, very organised, very environmentally friendly. Things you would associate with German engineering and cars, I’d associate with Dürr,’ Ian explains.

The best for you – worldwide is a difficult slogan to live up to, particularly if, like Dürr Dental, you cover so many different fields. With the continuous development from the German-based team, Dürr ends up not only leading the way across the board, but also innovating new ideas to help stay ahead of the curve.

So, if you’re looking for imaging equipment, a new compressor or vacuum or a new hygiene supplier, ‘the best for you’ might just be the German manufacturer based down the road in Kettering.

Figure 6: Vistascan

For further information visit www.duerrdental.com.