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At EuroPerio10, Dental Tribune International met up with Dr Robert Gottlander, who took over the position of CEO and president of Neoss at the end of 2020. In this interview, he shared his vision for the future of his company and how dentistry is changing and with it the demands for manufacturers and explained what makes Neoss’s new high-precision intra-oral scanner unique.
Dr Gottlander, this year, Neoss is celebrating 20 years of intelligent simplicity. You invited the dental community to join your company from 9 to 11 June in Gothenburg in Sweden for Integrate 2022. Can you tell us a bit more about the event?
Neoss is in a period of change. We are building on strong product lines and strong research and increased communication. We had over 600 participants, and from what I heard from external and internal participants, they really enjoyed it. The goal for us was to integrate, educate and celebrate. Our basic feeling is that education “only” is no longer sufficient, because people are used to getting new information on the Internet, especially since the pandemic. What is lacking is exchange. Our event offered short lectures and the opportunity to engage with speakers and other participants by asking questions and having discussions. In addition, we offered evening events, like themed dinners. We thought that this mixture would attract participants, and it really did. The meeting as such exceeded our expectations, and we are very happy with the outcome.
Other big news, which we announced at the meeting, is that we are moving our corporate headquarters to Zurich in Switzerland.
You called the meeting “Integrate 2022”. Does that imply a further integration process in the coming years?
The basic plan—which has not been officially confirmed yet—is to have five to seven small meetings in different countries next year and to have another Integrate meeting in 2024. That’s the plan, but we will have to see whether it works out.
I really like the name “Integrate” because for a lot of dentists daily work is about integration. I think that what we have learned during the pandemic is that we really have to integrate all parts of the dental community, including clinicians and manufacturers. The dental community works better if it’s integrated and when we all work together.
Choosing Gothenburg as the location for the meeting was probably no coincidence, considering that Neoss has its origins in the city and Gothenburg is very closely connected with Per-Ingvar Brånemark, who was central to osseointegration research.
Neoss is based on the tradition of implantology from Gothenburg. We try to stick to the basics, to follow Brånemark’s principle, which was to always think about the patient. Therefore, as a company, we think about what we need to do for the clinician in order to get the best outcome for patients.
The office in Gothenburg is very close to the University of Gothenburg’s dental school, and we are in the same building as the Department of Biomaterials. I think that Neoss is more focused on science than other implant companies are—although, I don’t know if we are an implant company. I don’t think so. I don’t want us to be.
What do you want Neoss to be, if not an implant company?
I think we would like to be a company that helps dentists treat patients in the best possible way, in an ease-of-use way but with predictable results. Today, implants are very different from what they used to be 40 years ago, and I think that implants in the coming 20 years will be different too. The tools being used—such as scanners and software—are also being used in many other treatments. Three decades ago, an implant crown used to be made completely differently from a crown for a tooth. Today, there is no difference. In this way, implant dentistry has come closer to other fields of dentistry. This shift is evident in all of the traditional implant companies because they are different from what they were 20 or 30 years ago. At Neoss, we want to offer technology that is easy to use and to stick to our intelligent simplicity. Simplicity has always been important, but I think it is becoming even more important.
In my opinion, this development has to do with today’s dental education system. When I went to dental school, we learned a lot about very few things. Today, there are so many different dental specialties; however, the time students spend in dental schools has not been expanded. Therefore, today’s students learn, I don’t want to say little, but less about a lot. As a result, when they leave dental school, they need to find a way to get more education. In addition, students and clinicians have changed their view of life. When I graduated, the main goal was to become a specialist or to have one’s own private practice. Today, a lot of dental students want to be employed, and that means that the requirements for manufacturers are changing. We have to develop products and handle education in a different way. At Neoss, we aim to back up our products with an immense effort in training and education because I believe manufacturers have to take responsibility for showing dental professionals how our products are supposed to be used.
I really believe in intelligent, simple use built on science
So, with regard to your question about what I think Neoss should be—these are the topics we try to think about. We are not a large company, and I think that the biggest advantage of that is that we do not have to adhere to a strict traditional structure and this flexibility gives us the possibility of doing things that will make a difference in the future. Legacy implant companies need to concentrate on how to manage their business. At Neoss, we have the luxury of being able to be more forward-oriented.
Many implant companies are branching out into areas that are not part of their core business—such as aligners and intra-oral scanners. Neoss just launched the NeoScan 1000. What was the rationale for this product?
We have had the ScanPeg for five years. It is the smartest digital workflow product currently on the market, offering the combination of a scanning abutment and a healing abutment. I thought: this is really smart, but we cannot really sell it unless we also offer a scanner.
What makes your scanner unique?
We stuck to the easy-to-use approach. I really believe in intelligent, simple use built on science. When developing the scanner, we did not focus on multiple software features but on it being fast, precise and really easy to work with. It’s very lightweight—it only weighs 198 g—so basically the weight of a smartphone. The mirror is a bit lower, so the captured image is larger than usual. If something is missed while scanning, the user can go back and the scanner will pick it up quickly, which really reduces the scanning time. It has one button for the upper jaw and another one for the lower jaw, so actually the user can’t do anything wrong.
So, it’s idiot-proof?
Yes, that’s my point! [laughs] This scanner is for dentists who want a simple scanner that takes a precise picture at a very competitive price. I think that at the moment it’s the scanner with the best price–performance ratio on the market. Most other scanners in the same price range don’t have a colour mode or don’t work at the same speed. The speed of our product is the same as that of high-end scanners. We just don’t have all the different modules for the software. However, it’s truly open. The dental professional can incorporate the scanned data into other design and scanning software. It’s for dental professionals who want to focus on their clinical work. We presented data at Integrate 2022 which shows that the precision of our scanner is at least as good as the leading brands on the market today.
EuroPerio10 is one of the first major shows to take place since the COVID-19 pandemic began. How does it feel to be back?
I think that it’s great to be back and to be able to communicate and see people again. I personally really enjoy it. I think that it is different to before COVID-19 because now shows are more about getting together and socialising. Our coffee machine at the booth is constantly running. [laughs]
To come back to Neoss at EuroPerio, we have another product which we wanted to highlight: NeoGen, which is a non-resorbable PTFE titanium membrane. These membranes are actually not easy to work with, but if used correctly can achieve vertical bone growth in a way that is amazing. We have had this product for five to six years, and it has been well researched.
I joined Neoss because of its great implant product line, including its easy use and predictable, well-researched outcomes—and because of its novel products, such as the ScanPeg and PTFE membrane. Very few companies have such an offering.