Henry Schein launches prosthetics partnership

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A partnership between a Melville-based medical supplies giant Henry Schein and a foundation focused on an emerging American Dental Association specialty will help usher computer-aided design into dental schools.

Schein announced Friday that it will work with the American College of Prosthodontists Education Foundation and donate at least $1.25 million to the American College of Prosthodontists. The gift will help the college develop “a groundbreaking new curriculum” that makes heavy use of computer-aided design and manufacturing technologies, according to the company.

Focused on dental prosthetics, “prosthodontics” is one of nine specialties recognized by the American Dental Association. Dentists who specialize in this field must receive up to four years of additional education post-doctorate, zeroing in on cosmetic restorations and other treatments using prosthetics.

(Photo quiz: It’s not Jennifer Lopez, who was second.)

Computer-aided design and manufacturing was introduced to dentistry decades ago but is still used in just 15 percent of U.S. dental practices. A recent ACP study blames the slow adoption of digital dentistry not on the technology itself but on a relative lack of education and training options.

Henry Schein CEO Stanley Bergman said his company is a firm believer in the idea that CAD enhances dentistry – not only for patients but for practitioners.

“By rallying the industry to ensure that dental students are fully educated on the practice benefits and patient benefits of digital dentistry, we are helping the dentists of tomorrow succeed,” Bergman.

(Photo quiz: Julia Roberts? Nope, she was fourth.)

Lyndon Cooper, chairman of the ACPEF, said digital dentistry has the capacity to “transform patient experiences” while delivering improved workflow and productivity to dentists.

With more than 5,000 dental students graduating each year from 66 accredited U.S. dental schools, “the best patient care begins with the best educational tools,” according to Robert Gottlander, the Henry Schein vice president in charge of the firm’s prosthetic business.

“The partnership is vitally important to ensure that the coming generation of dental professionals has the training and confidence to derive all of the benefits that digital technology has to offer,” Gottlander said.

The initiative will be offered to dental students as a regular course of study and to practicing dentists through continuing education programs, with several dental schools expected to launch pilot programs in 2017, according to Henry Schein.

(Photo quiz: That’s right, Jessica Alba.)