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Announcing the winners of the 2023 PDT/RDH Student Research Awards

Aug. 1, 2023
This annual competition for dental hygiene students seek to reward creativity, originality, and applicable information. The 2023 winners did not disappoint.

Paradise Dental Technologies is proud to sponsor the PDT/RDH Student Research Awards. This year six groups were recognized in both original and informational content (see sidebar).

So, how did PDT begin? Linda Miller started Paradise Dental Technologies (PDT) in her two-car garage in Missoula, Montana, in 2000. Now, 23 years later, PDT is the second largest instrument manufacturer in the United States and Canada and has the number one used sickle scaler on the market, the Montana Jack. PDT has experienced such tremendous growth by listening, observing, and being innovate.

Before Linda started PDT, she spent two to three weeks a month in dental clinics. She would watch hygienists, dentists, assistants, and even patients, observing body language and reactions. The clinicians were hurting, and the patient in the chair wasn’t comfortable.

Much of this was due to the instrumentation, angulation, and grip on the instruments. She could see they needed something better. So, she started PDT, naming it Paradise Dental Technologies because it should be paradise for the clinicians, patients, and everyone working with PDT to manufacture and design products.

What led to PDT's success?

When asked how PDT has continued to be innovative in the dental industry, Linda said, “By listening to the clinicians and watching them, we have been able to continue to improve products.” Linda loves that dentists and hygienists feel confident bringing PDT their pain points and telling them about their challenges.

Since PDT is about innovation at its core, Linda gets excited to brainstorm solutions to these problems with clinicians and then be a part of making them a reality. Many of PDT’s most popular products were designed with dentists and hygienists. Linda strives to create a comfortable space of collaboration so we can all look after each other to ensure clinicians have the products they need to do their jobs comfortably, effectively, and efficiently.

PDT did have some barriers to entering the dental instrument market. Distributors would only accept PDT once they had enough market share. PDT overcame this by placing their instruments into clinicians’ hands. Once clinicians tried the instruments, they could feel the difference.

One of the 2022 winners: Announcing the RDH Student Research Poster Award winner in original research

What sets PDT apart?

PDT instruments are all designed to be ergonomic, effective, and efficient. By focusing on clinicians’ comfort and ergonomics, PDT instruments provide increased tactile sensitivity and reduce the development of musculoskeletal disorders over time.

PDT’s solid, thermal resin-handled instruments weigh only 13 grams, providing the ideal weight to reduce the residual stress on tendons and ligaments. The handles have a special knurling that goes up to the shank of the instrument so that clinicians can get a better grip on their instruments and reduce pinch and hand fatigue.

PDT’s proprietary cryogenic and heat treatment process creates harder steel so their instruments hold their edge and can easily be resharpened. Anatomical color coding on the instruments allows faster setups and more efficient pick-ups. PDT’s attention to instrument blade size, angulation, curvature, and balance allows for blade designs that adapt anatomically to allow clinicians to be more efficient and promote patient comfort.

Outside of instrumentation, Linda also has a passion for growth in other areas of the dental industry. When asked, “If you could do one thing for the dental industry, what would it be?” Linda said, “I would like to bring greater recognition to the world about how the oral cavity is the gateway to your overall health because the dental profession saves lives, and we can save so many more if people understand the importance of it.”

As a Dental Trade Alliance board member, Linda actively participates in lobbying government officials to make changes within the government to recognize the dental health effects overall systemic health. Since this is one of PDT’s core values, and they believe everyone should have access to dental care, they also have a recycling program called EarthCare. Through EarthCare, PDT will give you one free instrument for every 12 you recycle. If these instruments can be reconditioned, they will be sent to non-profit organizations, annually serving approximately 400 missions worldwide.

What’s next for PDT?

The company is currently adding onto their manufacturing facility in Missoula. Did we mention it was all made in Montana? Linda has always believed that when you need an instrument, you need an instrument. PDT wants to ensure that when you place your order, they will send it to you within two business days.

So, to keep up with growth, they are doubling the size of their manufacturing facility. They are also increasing the size of their research and development facility and adding a metallurgy lab. This will create more space for innovation so that PDT can service the dental industry. Do you have innovative ideas that you want to make a reality? Reach out to PDT at [email protected].

And the winners are:

Original Research

1st Place: Sameen Dezfoli, West Coast University

2nd Place: Elizabeth Moreno Silva and Riley Tomek, Cerritos College

3rd Place: Kawthar Sami and Savannah Kobza, Univ of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry

Informational Research

1st Place: Cindy Saelee and Rachel Jamora, Sacramento City College

2nd Place: Jacqueline Thompson, Coastal Bend College

3rd Place: Hazel Goecke, University of Minnesota School of Dentistry

Editor's note: This article appeared in the July 2023 print edition of RDH magazine. Dental hygienists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.