The Name Game

April 1, 2008
Finding a significant name for an online e-mail address or Web site is becoming more challenging as many distinct and logical names are already in use.

by Karen Kaiser, RDH

Finding a significant name for an online e-mail address or Web site is becoming more challenging as many distinct and logical names are already in use. So many names, especially generic ones, are taken, so users are forced to come up with unique variations. Combining words to create meaningful titles remains the objective. Programs called "name generators" generate domain names to help individuals and organizations come up with combinations that are unregistered. These name generators work with keywords, abbreviations, and mix words in a database to result in a usable name. Imagine then the difficulty marketing professionals face when selecting a name for a brandable dental product. Companies take on the naming challenge to come up with unique names that drive dental professionals toward their brand.

Naming dental products is a process that may take months to complete. Companies face a challenge to find a name that dental professionals can relate to and want, recognize the need for the product to be used in their practices, and then be moved to purchase the product. Product naming is a critical component, especially when one realizes the capital put into marketing the brand image. Target market testing and focus groups are a few ways companies develop a name. What"s more, names may be chosen from within the company itself.

SDI Company, which manufactures a wide range of products, has come up with some of my favorite names. Who could keep from smiling with a product name like "frog"? Frog is SDI's all-purpose self-etching adhesive, which bonds to both dry and moist surfaces. Naturally the container of etcher has a green label. Another etcher, "stae" is a fluoride-releasing, one-bottle adhesive. After all, having the adhesive "stay" where it is placed on the tooth is a goal. Would not a versatile, fluoride-releasing flowable composite be suitably named "wave" since it is injected into the prepped area? When it comes to SDI's esthetic line, the names are quite chilly. How about "ice" or "glacier," both radiopaque hybrid composite materials designed with the anterior teeth in mind. Perhaps the tooth whitening line "pola" channels the clinician's thoughts to white snow-capped mountains or maybe a huge, white polar bear.

Product names may be combinations of morphemes (smallest units of words), phonemes (smallest units of speech to differentiate one meaning from another), or words which can stand alone with meaning to correspond to the product. Product perspectives may be made depending on how the sounds and words are arranged.

For the Xlear Company, making a xerostomia product named Rain Dry Mouth Spray using one descriptive word like "rain" helps categorize the product vividly in the dental professional"s mind that the product is intended to add moisture to the mouth. Rain is a product made with natural saliva-increasing xylitol, and it also has a mode of calcium formulated into the spray to help improve enamel. Xlear is known for its Spry Dental Defense xylitol-containing line and alleviates dry mouth in an oral spray. Rain also has a handy take-along sprayer that gives the dry mouth sufferer on-the-go relief with just a spearmint spray.

Once a linguistic name is found, dental companies may incorporate the name into a complete product line. The EverEdge instrument by Hu-Friedy is the line name for a group of its hard-wearing hygiene scalers. The EverEdge technology features a durable stainless steel design that stays sharp longer. When the working edge of the instrument stays sharp longer, the clinician avoids the need for frequent sharpening to maintain the cutting surface.

When it comes to products for keeping operatory surfaces clean, a product line that states what it is about and is easily recognizable is ideal. Mydent International"s line for barrier protection is suitably named — Defend. This disposable line of barrier products includes masks, sterilization pouches, disposable lab coats, autoclave tape, and the like. This line has various barriers that defend against the germs we face in the dental office daily.

Some names are witty and require the buyer to think. One example is a fluoride varnish from Omni. The Vanish varnish (say Vanish varnish five times fast) is a 5 percent NaF varnish that is white when applied and blends into the tooth surface. Unlike other fluoride varnishes that leave the teeth a dingy yellow after application, Vanish varnish sodium fluoride virtually disappears seconds after being painted onto the surface. This fluoride varnish is available in individual foil units in melon, mint, and cherry flavors. The dose packets come with applicator brushes for quick application.

Sometimes names are plays on words. Kerr took the familiar alginate title and modified it ever so slightly to deliver the name AlgiNot. Alginate is a familiar product for impression taking for study models, bleaching trays, and mouthguards, just to name a few procedures in the dental office. The AlgiNot impression material is not an alginate, but an alginate alternative. Unlike traditional alginate materials, this product is automix dispensed and requires no hand mixing like traditional alginates.

When the name of the product states what the product is used for, how simple it becomes for the consumer purchasing products to select what will suit his or her home-care needs. Such is the case with StaiNo brand flosser, Floss 'n Toss. This individually wrapped ultra-handy flosser is designed to be used and then tossed in the trash just as the name states. With advanced stain removal technology, common stains are easily flossed away by the mint-flavored floss tab. Holding this flosser makes you feel like you are holding a guitar pick ready to strum on the gum.

For total moisture control, a product fittingly named All-Dri™ controls saliva, keeping an all-dry field which is especially needed for placing preventive sealants. AllPro Company offers a moisture pad that is flat or can be folded to fit under the tongue but resists sticking to tender tissues like traditional absorbents.

In product naming, names that are phonetically simple to say and well composed with vowels and consonants have a plus over those that are hard to pronounce. Manufacturers have a challenge to fit purpose to product title in the name game. Take another look around your dental environment and discover all the well-thought-out names.

The author did not receive compensation for the products mentioned. For more names, visit the Web at,,,,,,,,, and

About the Author

Karen Kaiser, RDH, graduated from St. Louis' Forest Park dental hygiene program in 1994 and currently practices at the Center for Contemporary Dentistry in Columbia, Ill. She has written several articles for RDH and other publications, sits on dental hygiene panels, and is an evaluator for Clinical Research Associates. She can be contacted at [email protected].