“Minimally invasive driven practice led product development of Ultradent of today”
“The value of doing the right thing is the philosophy of life I've lived so far”
“I am lucky. In the 1970s, I was the first and one of the only children in my family who was able to go to university. I then got the opportunity to go to Loma Linda dental school and that was one of the greatest opportunities of my life. I did a very good in dental school. I loved dental school but I saw some problems that we dentists had some problems that had not been corrected yet and that's what engaged me in research. I’ve worked and studied from eight in the morning until midnight to 1 am.
Bleeding occurs when we cut for filling preparation for dental restoration or crown treatment. Even in the 1970s, there was no way to control bleeding. If bleeding is not controlled, dental treatment will not be effective. This was the beginning of the development of dental hemostatic agents. I’ve developed a dental hemostatic agent and applied for a patent. I met companies who would buy the patent rights, but none of them recognized the value. My family started at home, feeling that if we didn't, we wouldn't be able to enjoy the benefits of that technology in dentistry. It was the starting point for Ultradent, which has grown into a company with close to 2,000 employees today.”
Dr.Dan Fischer, the founder of Ultradent, is a clinician who created the brand to realize the clinician's wish for what is needed in dental treatment and to practice it. When asked whether he would choose between a clinician and an entrepreneur himself, he said, 'It would be nice to do both. However, if we do business based on clinical trials, we will be able to make more things,” he said, revealing that the starting point of the business is also from the perspective of clinicians.
“Discover the value of doing the right thing for the right reasons”
Ultradent is a specialized manufacturer of dental restorative equipment that was established in Utah, USA in 1978. There are 1,775 employees (US: 1543, overseas 232) in 120 countries around the world. Nearly half of them were long-term employees for nearly 10 years and more, and the stable bond between companies and employees and the family-oriented corporate culture were also noted, and were selected as the ranked #5 “Best Workplace in Manufacturing and Production in 2022” by Fortune magazine in the United States.
The US market accounts for 35% of total sales, and the remaining 65% of sales are generated in the international market. As part of the global leader series, Miyong Yun, ceo & publisher of DenfoLine met Dr. Dan Fischer, the founder of Ultradent, who has a corporate philosophy that starts with a hemostatic agent and goes beyond tooth whitening and restorative materials to take responsibility for the happiness of mankind through oral health.
Q. How was Ultradent started?
“I am lucky. In the 1970s, I was the only one in my family to go to university, especially dental school, and loved everything about dentistry. As I developed a passion for restoring the entire restoration, I realized the importance of hemostasis in order to make a good impression.
At that time, realizing that the role of hemostatic agents was not sufficient, after graduating from Loma Linda Dental College in 1974, I returned to Utah and set up a laboratory in the basement of my house. Seeing that iron ions immediately coagulate blood, I thought I should commercialize ferric sulfate.
At the time, I found major companies with this technology, but it was not easy to commercialize it, so I decided to set up my own company. The family became employees and developed the first product, Astringedent™. In the early days, the blood was drawn by itself at an exhibition to immediately prove the hemostatic effect of Astringedent. This is the beginning of Ultradent, a company founded in 1978 and located in South Jordan, Utah, USA.”
Q. Ultradent's Corporate Philosophy and Corporate Culture
“Ultradent's mission is to improve oral health globally through science, creativity and education. We always strive to provide clinicians with progressive and reliable solutions while respecting patients and promoting their wellbeing.
Ultradent's core values are integrity, care, quality, innovation, and hard work, and we believe that these values are reflected in corporate decision-making and all products. These core values and commitment to continuous improvement have made Ultradent a world-class dental distributor and manufacturer.
And the root is inclusiveness and a sense of belonging within the company. We value the individuality of all employees and strive to foster a collaborative culture that encourages new ideas and encourages and supports creativity. In addition, we know that diversity is a strength and have a corporate culture that values social responsibility through volunteering and contributing activities for the socially underprivileged.”
Q. Why Ultradent stays as family owned business
“Ultradent is still family owned. Since the early 1970s, we have not considered going public at all. This is because we saw that if the company loses control, its employees and R&D may also suffer. We determined we didn't need a big pile of gold. Instead, companies need to continue to do a good.
And we strongly believe in our vision that we are passionately driven to improve oral health globally.
First, the patient minimal invasion preserving the natural tissue.
Second, clinician trustworthy and progressive solution.
And lastly, humanitarian for finding discoveries of tooth decay and gum disease, the two most common diseases on the earth to find preventive solutions and get in front of that problem.
I think there are solutions that will be discovered. There are solutions we have been working on inside of us as we went to the moon a number of times, and we should be able to find a solution for these two problems. I don't know if it'll be five years from now or 10-20 years from now but I think somewhere in that time it must come.
Q. If you choose between a clinician and an entrepreneur
"I've been asked a lot of similar questions. If you quit clinical practice and choose business, you have to find someone to replace you. The answer is 'always one hand washes the other' (It was an insightful answer showing Dr. Fischer's mind.)
Q. An advice to young clinicians suffering from competitions
“What is more precious to us than human life? In our society, most of us humans with the luxury of freedom in free societies, we have the opportunity to create our future or destroy.
I believe it is critical that we all of all ages, learn the importance even for money reasons, the importance of respecting humans. In the case of dentistry, respecting the intraoral tissue the gateway to help for disease occurs through the mouth as dentists.
We are doctors, and we must remind ourselves that the patient, their health triumph if we do the right thing, the money comes but not as a driving force, but as a natural side benefit to doing the right thing.
I believe that the more young people can discover high tech, adhesive, high tech residents even learning how to place direct bondable restorations that preserve more of the tooth structures that are more affordable for the patient, the more we can get our image back and dentistry, but certainly we can discover the value of doing the right thing for the right reasons.
It is I mean, what is more valuable to us than human life? Every time a pediatric dentist enters the oral cavity, I have a little four year old, or six year old, they should envision that that child is their child and treat them as such. And for the older patients that you're talking about, every time they look at entering the oral cavity of that 60, 70, 80 year old, I say to them, hi grandpa, hi grandma."
Q. If you could take profession again instead of being a dentist, what would it be?
“You asked a very good question. I must confess I've never thought about that because I've been so busy with the two jobs that I have. As a teenager, I had a job I wanted to be in, but now I know oral care, the value of protecting and caring for people.
I often tells my wife that we want life to be precious. We extend people's lives through oral health. That is what I want to do. In that respect, I am a lucky person. I stand on the shoulders of my 2000 employees a major contributor. They are colleagues they are part of the Ultradent family.”
Q. What would be the representative products of Ultradent?
“If you look at them in ascending order, they are products that can preserve tooth structure.
First, I would like to mention natural teeth whitening (Opalescence whitening). By preserving enamel, it can be done without damaging enamel, which is important in improving the oral health of patients worldwide.
Next is Astringedent for bleeding control. Predictably controlling bleeding prior to the application of bonding agents prior to crowns or composite resin restorations can dramatically improve oral health worldwide.
The No.3, most important it's not been invented yet. I will not share all my strategies because there are already many competitors among DenfoLine readers (laughs).
If I had to pick one thing, I'd like to pick a cool device called 'Umbrella'. It took 10 years to complete this product as a product that simultaneously retracts the tongue, lips and cheeks. It allows you to control without saliva.
In addition, we must and will continue to strive to have the world's best and most effective products to help improve oral health worldwide, such as new resins and light curing leader Valo. That's part of the direction we're going and need to go.”
Q. What does digitalization of dental products mean?
“The digital is exciting and the digital has gotten better every couple of years. But until we see that digital can provide the precision of fit of kindness to the gingival tissues that minimal invasive restorations can we won't be jumping on board.
We don't want to have a device that is there looking for a need in dentistry as the saying goes, ' don't let the tail waggle the dog', we want to have a need that the appropriate device becomes perfected and worthy of placing in the human's oral cavity.
Concluding the interview...
Since started his own practice in 1974, Dr. Fischer has developed dental hemostats and established Ultradent as a family company in 1978, conducting both clinical and business operations. Astringedent™ (later known as Viscostat™), the dental hemostatic he developed 45 years ago, was born out of his insight and determination to use his own blood to create exactly what he felt the market needed.
As a clinician, Dr. Fischer, who practiced part-time at his daughter's dentistry until 2017, has been committed to “improving oral health globally” throughout her life, hoping to discover a cure for caries. To pursue this goal, he is a social philanthropist who regularly donates time, money and products to organizations such as Sealants For Smiles for children who are unable to access preventive care. He has supported diversity foundations that provide educational opportunities for the underprivileged and vulnerable and have helped transform the lives of many young people who are victims of FLDS polygamy in the region. When not working, he tends the garden and enjoys spending time with his family, including his wife, children and 30 grandchildren. He has built Ultradent into a company with the same values, guided by his own strong moral codes that he has upheld throughout his life.
“Companies are not made of concrete, glass, and steel, they’re made of people.”
–Dr. Dan Fischer, Founder and CEO of Ultradent Products, Inc.