Sonendo® and transformative product development: an interview with Joseph Maggio, DDS
Company mission and history
Sonendo’s mission is to lead the transformation of endodontics through Sound Science®. At its core, Sound Science means that the company is committed to ensuring that its product development is based on sound scientific research and extensive proof source. Furthermore, Sonendo will continue to leverage its innovative approach to sound and its use in endodontics — as it works to bring this disruptive new technology to the endodontic community.
Sonendo is a privately held company located in Laguna Hills, California, that currently employs more than 100 people. Sonendo was founded in 2006 by life science focused accelerator Fjord Ventures, LLC. President and CEO Bjarne Bergheim collaborates with a scientific advisory board that includes Scott Arne, DDS, FAGD; Gerald Glickman, DDS; Markus Haapasalo, DDS, PhD; Asgeir Sigurdsson, Cand. Odont., DDS, MS, Cert. Endo (UNC); and Ove Peters, DMD, MS, PhD.
“Our goal is to transform endodontics by improving the clinical quality and business performance of practices performing root canal therapy,” said Bjarne Bergheim, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sonendo.
Q&A with Dr. Maggio
With more than 40 years of experience in the industry, Dr. Joe Maggio has dedicated his professional career to the field of endodontics. During that time, he has been an advocate of breakthrough technology as a way to improve clinical outcomes. In the following Q&A, Dr. Maggio, a former President of the American Association of Endodontics (1988-89), shares his lessons learned with freelance writer and editor Len Hall.
You’ve agreed to present SONENDO’s research at this year’s AAE meeting in Seattle. What inspired you to do so?
I’m inspired by the out-of-the-box, exponential thinking by the Sonendo team in the development of its technology, particularly its approach to product development and product refinement.
I’ve worked in endodontics for more than 40 years, and I’ve seen new technology develop in different stages. But over the years, while our tools have become progressively better, the conventional thinking in dental has been linear, and as a result, product development has remained mostly incremental. The changes in technology never went far enough to actually change our techniques.
For instance, we have seen a steady advancement in files. First they were made out of carbon steel, then stainless steel, and then nickel titanium, which allowed us to use them in a rotary fashion, which gave us the ability to turn them 360 degrees. After rotary came reciprocation, which allowed us to turn the files clockwise as well as counterclockwise.
That type of incremental development certainly improved the file itself, but we were still limited by our inability to remove tissue, bacteria, and to clean complex canal anatomies within the root canal system. The best we could do was to clean the main canals where the file and needle can reach, but we could not deliver adequate cleaning and disinfection elsewhere. Remember that a root canal is a system of complex anatomies.
For the first time now, thanks to Sonendo and the GentleWave™ System, we are thinking outside of the box. Sonendo has brought exponential thinking to its product development, and the result is a new technology that is truly disruptive and a product that is truly transformative.
With GentleWave’s Multisonic Ultracleaning™ technology, we can kill bacteria deep into the dental tubules and remove biofilm from root canal anastomes, and all of it needs to be cleaned and disinfected for proper healing to be achieved. Basically, all of the tissue from inside the entire root system is removed.
In terms of exponential thinking, a great analogy is the famous Fosbury Flop high jump in track and field. American high jumper Dick Fosbury, for the first time challenged the conventional thinking — he wanted to jump over the bar backwards, head first rather than feet first. He was challenging the conventional thinking, but he had to wait until there was a new kind of padding in the high-jump pit before he could move forward.
In other words, you have to have an open mind to challenge conventional thinking and technology. That’s what Dick Fosbury did, and it’s exactly what Sonendo is doing with the GentleWave technology.
What lessons have you learned over your career when it comes to evaluating technology?
Again, over 40 years in endodontics, I have seen new products come and go, but what’s also new with the GentleWave System is the company’s approach to bringing it to market. The GentleWave System has been in development since 2006, and Sonendo has adopted a “perfect and launch” approach through Sound Science®.
Typically, advances in dentistry have been made through what I call the “ship and test” method. You develop a new product and ship it to dentists who become the testers. But the problem was so many changes didn’t actually work in real practice. Once they were used on a real patient, they didn’t perform as they were designed.
Sonendo has taken an entirely different approach. They have worked diligently on perfecting the product first, using well-known researchers and institutions of higher learning to help them do the evaluating and testing, especially in terms of cleaning and disinfection, as well as, outcome. The GentleWave System is FDA cleared, and the testing has been done before the launch, which is the right way to bring a product to market.
The exciting thing about the GentleWave System is that it’s an entirely new technology — using Multisonic Ultracleaning energy to clean a root canal system. There is a learning curve, although not a difficult one. You need a little more of a technical sense to understand what Sonendo has done and a little time to think about how to approach it, but if endodontists have an open mind, and clearly evaluate the technology, I think everyone will be excited to see it succeed. Ultimately, I believe the results will be much better for the patients we treat.
Do you have any final thoughts?
I’m very excited that I’ve been given the opportunity to present the results of the research on the GentleWave System at the annual meeting of the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), which this year will be held from May 6-9 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. My corporate forum presentation, titled “A New Paradigm in Endodontic Therapy: GentleWave™, will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, May 8, in the Exhibit Hall.
Visitors should also plan on visiting Sonendo Booth No. 133 at the meeting. Anyone visiting will be able to view the GentleWave System, understand and see the science behind it, and take part in demonstrations. I look forward to the meeting and the opportunity to talk about the exciting innovations going on at Sonendo.
Sonendo has grown from a concept in 2006 to its selective commercial release today. The device is FDA cleared. For more information, visit www.sonendo.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.