Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Nanodiamonds Show Promise for Aiding Recovery from Root Canal Therapy

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For years now, in fact for well over 100 years here in the US, the go to material to fill root canals has been a rubberized form of a tree sap found in the Amazon jungle called Gutta Percha.  The material was melted, had radiopacifiers added (to make it visible on an x-ray) and was then rolled into long thin cone shaped fibers.  These fibers are then placed into the cleaned root canal space.
 
One of the problems of GP is that it is SO flexible.  Sometimes the little fibers are difficult to place as they want to bend before going exactly where you want them.
 
Now comes word that placement may become much easier and GP may become stronger due to the inclusion of nanodiamonds.  This is a pretty intriguing discovery from UCLA where it was developed by their dental school and their engineering school.
 
 
This could turn out to be a nice improvement for dentistry.  However, everything *always* looks good on the lab bench, but sometimes once it gets to clinical use… not so much.  Over the years, dentistry has seen more than a few discoveries that promised to replace GP, but after a period of time, always returned to the tried and true standard.
 
I’m very excited about the possibility of GP that has more stiffness and would therefore be easier to handle & place.  My biggest concern at the moment is that the clinical trial of this new material only includes 3 patients.  While the results are promising, I’m waiting for further results.  Give the paper a read and I think you will be guardedly optimistic too.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Dental Pharmacology Expert Tom Viola, RPh, CCP Launches New Informational Website

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“Pharmacology Declassified” Web Site Specifically-Designed to Simplify the Increasingly Complex Pharmacology Landscape for The Entire Dental Team

 

Columbus, NJ – October 24, 2017 – Tom Viola, RPh, CCP, a world-renowned authority on dental pharmacology, recently launched a new web site (www.TomViola.com) to support and expand his popular “Pharmacology Declassified” educational platform.

 

According to Viola, “Dental professionals are tasked with the safe and effective management of medically-complex patients – especially with the aging of baby boomers and as we evolve into an oral-systemic health model. However, they are faced with a seemingly overwhelming amount of information.”

 

The new “Pharmacology Declassified” web site is easy to navigate and puts a wealth of information at the fingertips of dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants and office managers. Some valuable online resources include:

 

  • Live CE Courses
  • On-Demand CE Webinars
  • College Curriculum
  • Lecture Calendar
  • Archived Articles

 “The intent of this web site is to be a go-to resource to help dental teams keep up with the latest trends in pharmacology and disease state management, added Viola.” I believe it will also ensure positive patient outcomes from a total health perspective and hopefully, be an important catalyst for increased dental-medical collaboration.”

 

For more information, visit www.TomViola.com. Contact Tom Viola, RPh, CCP at Tom@TomViola.com.  Meeting planners click here. Follow Tom and “Pharmacology Declassified” on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

About Tom Viola RPh, CCP:

 

Knowledge of pharmacology has never been more essential to patient care! With over 30 years’ experience as a pharmacist, dental educator and author, Tom Viola, RPh, CCP has earned a reputation as an international authority on dental pharmacology. 

 

As a clinical educator, Tom is on the faculty of ten dental professional degree programs. In this role, he has instructed students in chemistry, anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and local anesthesia. In addition, Tom has instructed hundreds of practicing dental hygienists in local anesthesia certification courses.

 

As a published writer, Tom is well known nationally and internationally for his contributions to many dental journals in the areas of pharmacology, pain management and local anesthesia. In addition, Tom has served as a contributor, chapter author and peer reviewer for several dental pharmacology textbooks and national board exam review books.

 

As a professional speaker, Tom has presented continuing education courses to dental professionals throughout the world. Meeting planners agree that Tom is their choice to educate audiences within this specialty.

 

Tom can be contacted at Tom@TomViola.com.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Silent Epidemic of Cancer Is Spreading Among Men

 

 

 

The title of this post is also the title of a very well written article by Maggie Fox that is on the NBCNews.com website.

Maggie does a great job of discussing and explaining the tragedy that oral and pharyngeal cancer (usually noted as oropharyngeal cancer) is creating.  This information, as I regularly state, should be front page news and looping on the news channels.  Unfortunately this isn’t happening… yet and until then it’s up to others to get as much information out on this as possible.

For several years, experts have been noting that the age that oropharyngeal cancer shows has been younger and younger.  At first they were baffled as to why.  Now the experts have determined that the culprit for that is HPV 16.   From Maggie’s article:

A team at the University of Florida, Baylor College of Medicine and elsewhere found that 11.5 percent of U.S. men were actively infected with oral HPV between 2011 and 2014, and 3 percent of women were. That adds up to 11 million men and 3 million women, the researchers report in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

It’s a sexually transmitted infection and the more sex partners someone had, the bigger their risk. But the study found smoking also increased the danger of a high-risk infection, and, perhaps surprising to some, that men and women alike who smoked marijuana were far more likely to develop a cancer-causing strain of HPV.

This information along with the fact that there are now more HPV related throat cancers in men than there are cervical cancers in women, means that the word absolutely needs to get out.  People need to be screened for the disease and every dentist needs to be screening for it.  Any cancer is a horrible tragedy, but when combined with the potential to also be disfiguring, oropharyngeal cancer is double trouble.

For the full article, here is the link.  I highly recommend you read it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Information from the ADA and MD Anderson Cancer Center's Symposium on Oropharyngeal Cancer

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I’m going to be focus on oral cancer a lot in the foreseeable future.  First because I’m very passionate about helping prevent it or detect it early and second because there is a lot of information that has suddenly become available.  Last week at the ADA Meeting in Atlanta, the MD Anderson Cancer Center and the ADA had a joint symposium dealing with this terrible disease.  Here is just a little of the information from that meeting:
 
Erich Sturges, M.D., a head and neck surgeon at MD Anderson, focused his discussion on the importance of ensuring boys receive the HPV vaccine, which can prevent the infections that can lead to cancer.  According to the CDC, HPV is thought to cause 70% of oropharyngeal cancers in the U.S.  He also stated oropharyngeal cancer is “nine times more common in men than women.”
 
Dr. Melinda Wharton, acting director at the National Vaccine Program Office within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, also presented and discussed the HPV vaccine, highlighting that only about 60 percent of adolescent boys and girls nationally have received one of more doses of the vaccine.  The CDC recommends children receive two doses of the HPV vaccine at ages 11-12.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

HPV Vaccination of Adolescent Boys May Be Cost-Effective for Preventing Oropharyngeal Cancer

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Everyday in my practice we perform Oral Cancer Screenings as part of our oral hygiene recare program.  This horrible and potentially disfiguring disease kills one person per hour every hour of the day and night.  We don’t charge for the screening, I do it because I think it is the right thing to do, pure and simple.  
 
Most people don’t realize it, but the majority of oral and pharyngeal caners are caused, not be smoking and alcohol, but by infection with HPV 16 which is just one of many human papilloma viruses.  HPV is transferred to partners during oral sexual contact and there really aren’t clear clinical symptoms that someone actually has HPV 16.
 
However, since cervical cancer is caused by the same virus, the same vaccine will help protect both male and female patients.  Here is some really fascinating info on why vaccinating adolescent boys is important:
 

A new study indicates that vaccinating 12-year-old boys against the humanpapilloma virus (HPV) may be a cost-effective strategy for preventing oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer, a cancer that starts at the back of the throat and mouth, and involves the tonsils and base of the tongue. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study provides important information about HPV vaccination, which has proven effective against HPV-related disease in both sexes but remains controversial, especially in males.

Many western countries have established female HPV vaccination programs for preventing cervical cancer. Little is known about the cost-effectiveness of male-HPV vaccination, however. Donna Graham, MB, BCh, MRCPUK and Lillian Siu, MD, FRCPC, of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, in Toronto, led a team that compared the potential costs and effectiveness of vaccinating adolescent boys in Canada against HPV for preventing HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer. When the investigators applied a statistical model to a population of 192,940 Canadian boys who were 12 years old in 2012, they found that HPV vaccination could save from $8 million to $28 million Canadian dollars over the boys’ lifetimes. Factors that could impact the cost savings of HPV vaccination in boys include, among others, vaccine cost, vaccine effectiveness, costs of cancer treatment, and survival of patients with HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers.

“We believe this study is important because HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer has increased significantly in incidence, especially in developed countries,” said Dr. Graham. “It is projected that by 2020, HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer will become the most common HPV-related cancer in the US, surpassing cervical cancer.”

Policy makers in many countries such as the United States, Canada, Austria, and Australia have recommended HPV vaccination in boys, but it is unfunded and is excluded from national immunization programs in many countries worldwide, notes Dr. Siu. “We hope that results from this study would raise awareness and lead to further assessment of this important public health issue,” she said.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Ultradent Products, Inc., Named 2017 International Company of the Year At Utah Global Forum Meeting

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Salt Lake City, Utah, October 17, 2017 – Today at the Utah Global Forum Meeting, held at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah, Ultradent Products, Inc., accepted the award for 2017 International Company of the Year, presented by KeyBank and the World Trade Association. Each year business and political leaders from around the state gather at the Utah Global Forum meeting to present and learn about developing international business and export strategy, as well as tap into new markets. The International Company of the Year Award honors one company and one individual each year for excellence in these areas, as well as global citizenship and humanitarianism. Nominations for International Company of the Year are submitted only by parties not employed or affiliated with the nominee.

 

Accepting the award on behalf of the company, Dr. Dan Fischer, Ultradent founder and CEO, said, “Ultradent wasn’t just founded by me, it was founded by family, and we’re proud to have maintained that family feeling as the company has grown throughout the decades to include 1,600 employees in offices in ten countries around the world, including our home office in South Jordan, Utah.” He went on to say, “We believe in the opposite of outsourcing. We do our own R&D, our own machining, our own injection molding, and our own primary and secondary packaging and mailing. We’re proud to say that 95% of what we sell, we manufacture ourselves, and we’re also proud to say that 70% of what we manufacture is exported beyond our U.S. borders to over 100 countries.” 

 

Special guest speakers at the Utah Global Forum meeting event included Utah Governor Gary Herbert; CNN, ABC News, and Telemundo Political Contributor and GOP Strategist, Ana Navarro; as well as many other influential business and civic leaders throughout the country and state. 

 

To learn more about Ultradent Products, Inc., please visit ultradent.com or call 800.552.5512.  

***

About Ultradent Products, Inc.

Ultradent Products, Inc., is a leading developer of high-tech dental materials, devices and instruments worldwide. Ultradent’s mission is to improve the level of dental health care and to make dental procedures more predictable and hassle free. Consistent with its mission, Ultradent works to improve the quality of life and health of individuals through financial and charitable programs. For more information about Ultradent, call 800.552.5512 or visit ultradent.com.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Issues SDF Guidelines

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For the last couple of years, dental professionals have been hearing more and more about SDF (38% Silver Diamine Fluoride) to help treat caries in susceptible patients.  Applying SDF  can arrest carious lesions.  However, the drawback is that the areas treated are rapidly stained dark brown or black.  While not a miracle cure for dental disease, SDF shows great promise to help many people, especially children in impoverished areas or those with special needs.  
 
Recently, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry released a paper containing guidelines for SDF use in clinical practice.  The full paper can be accessed here in pdf format.  The abstract appears below:
 
Abstract

Background:  This manuscript presents evidence-based guidance on the use of 38 percent silver diamine fluoride (SDF) for dental caries management in children and adolescents, including those with special health care needs. A guideline workgroup formed by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry developed guidance and an evidence-based recommendation regarding the application of 38 percent SDF to arrest cavitated caries lesions in primary teeth.
 
Types of studies reviewed: The basis of the guideline’s recommendation is evidence from an existing systematic review "Clinical trials of silver diamine fluoride in arresting caries among children: A systematic review." (JDR Clin Transl Res 2016;1[3]:201-10). A systematic search was conducted in PubMed®/MEDLINE, Embase®, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and gray literature databases to identify randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews reporting on the effect of silver diamine fluoride and address peripheral issues such as adverse effects and cost. The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) approach was used to assess the quality of the evidence and the evidenceto-decision framework was employed to formulate a recommendation.
 
Results: The panel made a conditional recommendation regarding the use of 38 percent SDF for the arrest of cavitated caries lesions in primary teeth as part of a comprehensive caries management program. After taking into consideration the low cost of the treatment and the disease burden of caries, panel members were confident that the benefits of SDF application in the target populations outweigh its possible undesirable effects. Per GRADE, this is a conditional recommendation based on low-quality evidence. Conclusions and practical implications: The guideline intends to inform the clinical practices involving the application of 38 percent SDF to enhance dental caries management outcomes in children and adolescents, including those with special health care needs. These recommended practices are based upon the best available evidence to-date. A 38 percent SDF protocol is included in Appendix II.
 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Taking Alexa for a Drive

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Like a lot of you, I have become a big fan of Amazon’s Echo Devices with the built in Alexa personal assistant.  I have become such a diehard, in fact, that I even went so far as to get an Echo Dot for my office.  It’s nice to have the device connected to my Bose Bluetooth speaker and simply tell Alexa what to play.
 
Lately though, I got to thinking that the place it would really make sense to have Alexa was in my vehicle.  I mean, it’s the ultimate hands-free device, right?
 
The problem was, my Chevy Tahoe is a 2009.  It has Bluetooth for a handsfree phone experience, but no Wifi like the newer models now have.  The workaround for that was my old Netgear hotspot that I used to use a lot while traveling.  Now with Wifi so ubiquitous, I don’t use it nearly as much as I used to.  So I configured Alexa to access the Netgear device and presto!  Alexa is online!
 
The second problem I faced was actually getting the Echo Dot running in the Tahoe.  The Echo Dot is pretty picky about its power needs and would not run via a USB micro cable connected to a power port in the vehicle.  No, I needed a full blown AC connection for that.  The workaround for that was this device pictured above.  This is the Foval 300W Power Inverter DC 12V to 110V AC Converter with 4.8A Dual USB Car Charger.    This nifty device plugs into a power port and then provides the AC power needed to power the Echo.
 
The Tahoe has a fairly good sized and deep console which even has a power port inside of it.  The electronics are all inside the console and the Alexa power cord snakes out of the lid.  The Dot itself sits on the console and is held in place with adhesive backed velcro so I can take it off the console when necessary.
 
I also paired Alexa with a Bluetooth converter I have plugged into the Aux port.  Since my Bluetooth in the Tahoe is fairly limited and will work for handsfree phone calls but does not work as Bluetooth headphones for my iPhone 6 Plus.  Hence the need for the Bluetooth converter.  The good news is now I just have to say, “Alexa, play Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes” and it all happens just like at my desk.
 
Just a little geeky DIY that I thought might be of interest for some of you.  If you have a newer vehicle with builtin Wifi and a 4G signal, you can forgo the hotspot & the Bluetooth converter as both of those items are making up for my out of date vehicle technology.  All you would need was the Focal unit above & a place to hide the Echo Dot.  The ultimate in handsfree is not that hard to create!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Activated Charcoal: Teeth-Whitening Secret or Total Scam?

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Since my post yesterday was on the scientific aspects of a literature review on charcoal toothpastes, my thinking today is to look at the information from a more “mainstream” point of view.  I mean all of that science stuff is fine, but what are concerns with this subject from the court of public opinion?  In short, it’s pretty much the same.
 
Here are a couple of paragraphs from an article I located on The Daily Beast:
 

You brush your teeth and floss on the reg. You’ve tried everything from the latest toothpaste to whitening strips, gels, and trays but nothing seems to give you that 100-watt smile. So what’s the best way to get gleaming pearly whites?

According to Pinterest and YouTube, the path to whiter teeth is covered in a pitch-black paste. Bloggers and vloggers claim that brushing with activated charcoal is an all-natural way to remove surface stains caused by coffee, tea, or red wine without bleach or abrasives. To prove it, they’re flaunting soot-covered teeth straight out of a horror movie. The result? Fluorescent white teeth after as few as one use, proponents say.

 
The article is well written and doesn’t, in my opinion, show signs of bias.  It just wants people to know the facts.  Those facts are that this stuff doesn’t seem to work and could even be harmful.
 
Of course, don’t just take my word for it.  Go to The Daily Beast and read for yourself.  It’s a great article about the newest fad.  

Monday, October 16, 2017

Literature Review: No Scientific Evidence To Support Oral Health Claims Of Charcoal Toothpastes

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For a while now, we’ve all been seeing some pretty outrageous claims about toothpastes containing charcoal and how much of a benefit they have.  Usually these appear in ads that say something like “the toothpaste your dentist will never tell you about” implying some conspiracy or the fact that they work so well, they will put dentistry in a pine box.  Unfortunately, neither of these are the truth.  The reason you don’t hear much about charcoal from your dentist is because there is no proof that it works.
 
JADA (Journal of the American Dental Association) recently published a literature review that showed no scientific evidence.  The review states:
 

Conclusions

The results of this literature review showed insufficient clinical and laboratory data to substantiate the safety and efficacy claims of charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices. Larger-scale and well-designed studies are needed to establish conclusive evidence.

Practical Implications

Dental clinicians should advise their patients to be cautious when using charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices with unproven claims of efficacy and safety.

 
Note that they are not saying it does not work as advertised.  They are simply saying there is no PROOF.  More scientific studies need to be done.
 
That being said, I’m not using or recommending anything in this category for the foreseeable future.
 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Bluephase Style Curing Light - Polywave AND Pink!!!

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 Curing is perhaps the most important part of adhesive dentistry and yet it is the part that most dentists pay the least attention to.  The prevailing thought tends to be, “if it’s blue, we’re good!”.  Yet nothing could be further from the truth.
 
A good curing light is just as important to your clinical success as good materials and good technique.  That’s why I’m so passionate about curing.
 
I’m also passionate about breast cancer awareness and the fight against this terrible disease.  My sister is a tremendous fighter and a survivor!!!  during her treatment, I truly learned what it means to “fight like a girl”.  Because of my sister’s brave fight and her ultimately prevailing I’ve become very in touch with my inner pink and I support companies that support the fight.
 
Because of that, I want you to be aware of the Bluephase Style from Ivoclar,  It’s a broadband light that cures everything that uses a photoinitiator, and has several other nice features such as (direct from the company website):
 

Bluephase® Style

Bluephase® Style is on an ergonomic mission. Whilst it is grounded in the proven technologies of the Bluephase® range, it incorporates optimized features.

It offers a light output of 1,100 mW/cm2, which is comparable to that of the existing Bluephase® light. Additionally, the new Bluephase Style features a compact and ergonomic shape that fits the hands of women and men even more comfortably than its predecessor.

Advantages

  • Comfortable to fit every woman’s and man’s hand
  • Polywave LED with halogen-like broadband spectrum of 385 to 515 nm
  • Suitable for all materials
  • Large treatment field due to 10-mm light probe
  • Shortened light probe, enabling access to all tooth surfaces without extreme opening of the mouth
  • Click & Cure for battery-independent emergency corded operation
  • Available in 3 colors (grey, pink and blue)

For all the pertinent info, check out the Bluephase Style page on the Ivoclar Vivadent webpageo  

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

FDA Looking Into Faster Generic Drug Development to Help with Rx Prices

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The only way you wouldn’t know that prescription drug prices are spiraling into the stratosphere is if you haven’t needed a prescription in the last 5 years.  Many patients are faced with financial dilemmas such as “food or medicine” simply because their monthly prescription prices are so high.  Of course, the one way to fight that problem is with generic medications.  Generics are frequently many orders of magnitude less than their name brand counterparts.
 
What has always been the case in the world of pharmaceuticals is that big pharma spends a huge amount in developing a new drug.  The costs associated with this are astronomical.  There is research and development, FDA approval, and clinical testing, just to name a few.  Due to these huge expenditures, the big pharma companies have been able to recoup their costs by having a patent lasting about 7 years.  During that time, only the original name brand drug is available and the price is high to give the company a return on their huge investment.  Once the patent expires, generics come on the market and profitability for the drug’s developer drops accordingly.
 
Now comes word from the FDA that they are working to expedite the development of generics on a faster track than ever before.
 
In a FDA blog post last week, FDA Chairman Dr. Scott Gottlieb made the following statement:
 
Our plan has a number of different domains. Among them is a compilation of efforts to improve the efficiency of the generic drug approval process; and another is a group of policies aimed at closing loopholes that allow branded drug companies to game our rules in ways that forestall the generic competition that Congress intended. One important group of policies is aimed at making it easier to bring generic competition to a category of branded drugs known as complex drugs. Today we’re announcing a major new set of policies to advance these goals.
 
The full blog post can be seen here, but you need to scroll down to the post from October 2 titled “Reducing the Hurdles for Complex Generic Drug Development”.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

GC Announces MI Paste One

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One of things that dentistry considers a founding principle is prevention.  Since I use several advanced caries detection devices in my practice like CamX Spectra, CariVu, Sopro LIFE, and Sopro CARE, I’m able to find decay at its earliest stages.  Even if you aren’t yet using those types of devices, all practices still see patients who experience accelerated enamel breakdown whether it’s from a diagnosable problem or not.  For small reversible lesions and/or for patients who are caries prone, we’ve been recommending GC’s MI Paste for years now.  From an acceptance point of view, the only problem with MI Paste is getting people to remember to use it as they should.  However, almost everyone remembers to brush their teeth!!!  Hence I was pretty excited to hear about GC’s newest product MI Paste ONE.  Now the benefits of MI Paste are available in a toothpaste.  Here are all the details:
 

MI Paste ONE is the newest member of the MI Paste® Family as a two-in-one application (toothpaste and MI Paste Plus®) containing RECALDENT™ (CPP-ACP) and fluoride, in a cool mint flavor. This product presents another way to treat sensitivity, remineralize tooth enamel and prevent white spot lesions. Imagine a simple, single step for treatment and cleaning. As a replacement for your current toothpaste, it gives you the same power of MI Paste Plus®, but in a single application. Now, rather than brushing first then applying MI Paste® and/or MI Paste Plus®, you'll simply brush with MI Paste ONE.

  • Use MI Paste ONE:
    • For hypersensitivity
    • For remineralization
    • For tooth erosion and wear
    • For sensitivity from whitening
    • For preventing caries and white spot lesions

Monday, October 9, 2017

Deloitte - One of the World's Four Largest Accounting Firms - Confirms Hack

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As a techie, a technology editor, and The Technology Evangelist, you’ve had to have figured out by know that not only do I *LOVE* technology, but that I pretty much immerse myself in it 24/7/365.  Technology is something that we’ve all become dependent on in one way or another.  Some of you are like me and depend on it for almost everything, while others may simply enjoy their smartphone.  Either way, technology provides gifts that keep on giving the whole year ‘round.
 
Unfortunately as technology has spread into  all the nooks & crannies of our lives, something else has come along with it.  That would be our dependence on security to protect our dependence on technology.  I think it is a sad (but unfortunately expected) aspect of human nature that anytime something good comes along, someone with dishonest motives has to come along and ruin it for the rest of us.  
 
As regular readers of the blog and Followers of my Twitter Stream know, I’ve become much more focused on security as of late.  The reason for that is simple, security has become a much bigger issue  in technology for the general user.  It used to be that hacking, data theft, compromised data servers, and/or Ransomware were the concern of corporate IT departments.  However, over the last 2-3 years, there has been an explosion of these types of breaches for both small companies and private individuals.  Because of that simple change in the demographics of who is affected, I’ve felt compelled to try and keep readers that fall into those categories better informed on the risks they might face and perhaps ways to combat them when I discover them.
 
One of the biggest problems we face as small businesses is we just do not have the resources of large corporations.  Let’s face it, I do not know one private dental office that employs an IT department.  However, it is also looking more and more like small businesses *might experience a degree of safety based solely on their size.*  What I mean by that, is why would a hacker want to steal 2000 patient records when they can steal millions from a larger target?  A couple of weeks ago, Big Four accounting from Deloitte announced they were hacked for about 6 months before the realized it and hackers may well have gained access to an incredible amount of confidential data.  Deloitte provides auditing, tax consultancy and high-end cybersecurity advice to some of the world’s biggest banks, multinational companies, media enterprises, pharmaceutical firms and government agencies.

And while I think we might be more safe than big companies due to our relatively smaller number of records, we are at just as much, if not more, risk for attacks like Ransomware.  That’s because the crooks using Ransomware make their money holding you data ransom so the more databases affected, the greater the potential payoff.  In that scenario, everyone is equal and fair game.

Getting back to Deloitte, one of many services they offer clients is “high-end cybersecurity advice”.  When you think of the security experts experiencing a security hack, that in and of itself is frightening.

We are living in interesting times and the best way to keep these corrupt gangs out of your data is to implement and execute a tight security plan.  While no plan is perfect, having one will put you miles ahead of those who don’t have one.

If you’d like to read more about the Deloitte situation, The Guardian has put together a very thorough article with lots of investigative details.  
 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Dentsply Sirona Announces Program to Benefit Dentists Affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

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Relief program designed to support dentists in the states of Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Georgia focuses on long-term recovery of their practices.

 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (October 10, 2017Dentsply Sirona announced that it is offering an extra 10 percent discount on MSRP pricing through the end of the year on all equipment sales to dentists affected by Hurricane Harvey in the states of Texas and Louisianaas well as dentists affected by Hurricane Irma in areas of Florida and Georgia. The program facilitates the donation process for distributors who want to offer financial support to storm victims in affected areas.

“Dentsply Sirona is committed to helping those affected by these tragic events,” said Senior Vice President of the U.S. Commercial Organization Michael Augins. “Our organization, along with our dealer partners, are committed to helping dentists in the affected areas rebuild their businesses and communities throughout the months to come.

Orders must be placed and goods delivered by Dec.31, 2017, except for treatment centers, which must be delivered by March 31, 2018. The offer is on top of all promotions by Dentsply Sirona.

The company will also offer special savings programs designed to help dental offices restock products for consumable materials. 

Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Aug. 24 near Corpus Christi, Texas, as a Category 4 storm. It is on track to be one of the costliest hurricanes in U.S. history. The storm produced up to 50 inches of rain in some areas, causing historic flooding and wreaking havoc on communities throughout Southeastern Texas and Southwestern Louisiana. On Sept. 10, Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida as a Category 4 storm, producing disastrous storm-surge flooding, tornadoes and forceful wind gusts across the state.  This is the first time in recorded history that two Category 4 storms made landfall in the U.S. in the same year.

For more information on this relief program and to learn more about Dentsply Sirona, visit www.dentsplysirona.com or speak to your preferred dental products dealer.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Interested in a Drone Company You Can Invest In On the Ground Floor? Check Out Flifli!

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As many of you know, I’ve been flying drones for a few years now.  When I first started out, the hobby was very primitive and I ended sort of building my hexacopter from scratch.  I enjoyed that immensely, but not everyone has a geek gene like I do.  That’s why the DJI company out of China has been so successful in the field of drones.  DJI took much of the DIY and guesswork out of assembly and also learning to fly.  As they innovated and simplified the hobby, more and more people spent the money and jumped on board.
Over the last 2-3 years drone popularity has grown by leaps and bounds.  It used to be that when I went flying, people would stop and watch.  now a barely get a glance.  The improvements we’ve seen are in looks, handling, and some basic things like preventing fly-aways, electric fences, preventing flying in restricted areas, etc.  However, the basic premise of drone flight really hasn’t changed.  We’re still using radio frequency (RF) and remote control systems.
Now along comes Flifli.  This company has the idea of improving drones by improving the user interface & controls.  The idea is a virtual-reality headset and voice commands similar to the Amazon Echo (“Alexa, what is the weather?”)

The company is seeking funding via Indiegogo.com and I’d be less than truthful if I said I wasn’t considering investing, because, honestly, I just may invest. Last week I received the following in an email from the company…
In 2014 the world came into contact with Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the home with the release of Amazon Echo. This type of personal AI had been introduced previously in the mega-hit movie “Iron Man’ with the AI system called “Jarvis.” The main character Tony Stark uses Jarvis for anything he needs executed: lighting, television, phone calls, dinner orders, simple chores and computer data analysis. Up to a few years ago, people thought this was only possible in movies and fiction. Today, we know better. The future is here.
One start-up company in New Jersey attempted to reinterpret and repurpose existing leisure drones with an added benefit of AI. Right now most drones use a joypad/joystick style controls to operate the drone, by contrast, this company is developing its drone (called “ORCA”) to utilize open networking/the Internet. This will enable greater flexibility in control and operations. The benefit of using an open network (Internet) is users are not required to have all the resources available to operate and control the device, instead they can rely upon sharing those tools and resources via the open network. Using an operating environment based on the Internet with an LTE communication module in the drones creates greater freedom for the user, enabling them to control their drone via the Internet rather than through RF(Radio Frequency) signal. The company is currently looking for investors using crowdfunding campaign.
Contributing to the crowdfund campaign will allow the development team to fully develop this model so that more people can benefit from AI based drones. In fact, it will allow for AI technology provided by Amazon AWS to be used by drones. Typical AI services provided by AWS include: Lex, Polly, Rekognition and so on. The impact of this would mean that a drone could be 100% controlled with voice-only command. That opens up a whole additional field of possibilities. The AI system in the drones will be able to work off of other models besides the mandatory command: autonomous flight, navigation, obstacle recognition, phone calls, and even listening to music. Their drone will allow voice recognition to perform almost all functions provided by a mobile phone during flight.
The team explains that the possibilities and potential goes beyond just picking up pizza or playing music in the home. Recently, services for 360-degree VR have become active in YouTube and Facebook. VR became a big part of how people enjoyed the Wimbledon tennis tournament in July 2017. This tournament that has the longest history among the four major tennis competitions in the world which are ‘the US Open’, ‘the French Open’ and ‘the Australian Open’. During Wimbledon Matches, they provided a 360-degree wide angled video or augmented reality (AR) technology so that people could enjoy the game and actual tennis court more realistically anywhere in the world. People had come to experience moments when the past and future met and became reality. That experience can also have been applied to this drone. The 360 degree lens mounted on the drones and the separately provided goggles gives the experience of seeing the sky like as if in actual flight. In addition, the goggle applies head-up-display (HUD) which has the effect of doubling the pleasure of the drone flying.
One of the other advantages is the easy software applicability through the internet. Since it is an Internet-Based drone, drone users do not need to buy or think of getting a new drone for new technologies and software systems. With the update over the internet, Users can easily experience the new performance simply by making the update.
Investors who assist in the research and development of this software are not only helping themselves by receiving the functionality once it’s ready to go, but also they will be a part of the launch of another revolutionary software (AR) with this drone in the second half of 2018. Unlike the World’s best drone producing company DJI who focuses on hardware, this start-up company, FLiFLi, prefers to spend their energy in internet-based software R&D that can be applicable with drones rather than hardware development.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Garmin Encourages Kids with Vivofit Jr

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Our world is a never ending potpourri of screens.  Due to that, now more than ever, parents are always encouraging their kids to “get outside and do something!”  To help with that process, Garmin has released the Vivofit jr.2.  The device helps encourage kids to get active and stay active as well as allowing parents to monitor that activity.  The devices come in different kid themes of Star Wars, Disney, and Marvel.  
 
The devices come with a user replaceable battery that lasts for more than a year.  This means no charging!  It also tracks your kids daily activity and offers advancement in themed adventures on the free mobile app.  It also tracks steps and sleep.  Cost?  $99.99 from the Garmin website.  
 
Here are more details from Garmin:
 

vĂ­vofit jr. Parent-controlled App

Inspire kids to stay active every day with magical adventures. Every day that kids meet their 60-minute activity goals, they advance in Mickey’s Birthday Surprise: A Disney Adventure, uncovering adventures featuring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and all their pals. The app experience matches the style of band you choose. Get access to new adventures and more fun by purchasing additional bands and pairing them with the free parent-controlled mobile app.

Parents manage the kid’s activity tracker by using the app. Add multiple children, and see their steps, sleep, daily activities and chore data when it syncs6 to your mobile device. Assign tasks and chores, set schedule alerts, find out how many reward coins each child has, access adventures, and even invite the whole family to compete in daily step challenges together — all from your mobile device.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Big, Big Shake Up in the Dental Industry as Dentsply Sirona Announce Sweeping Leadership Changes

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On the heels of the “highly successful” Dentsply/Sirona World that concluded less than a month ago, comes new of a huge shakeup in the leadership of the world’s largest dental company.  Dentsply/Sirona announced on Monday October 2 the resignation of Bret Wise, Executive Chairman, Jeffrey Slovin, Chief Executive Officer and Director, and Christopher Clark, President and Chief Operating Officer.
 
Here is the press release:
 

YORK, Pa., Oct. 02, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- DENTSPLY SIRONA Inc. (“Dentsply Sirona”)  (NASDAQ:XRAY), The Dental Solutions Company™, today announced that its Board of Directors has implemented leadership changes intended to better position the Company to achieve its potential.  The leadership changes include the appointment of Mark A. Thierer as Interim Chief Executive Officer and Bob Size as Interim President and Chief Operating Officer.  Additionally, Eric K. Brandt was elected as Non-Executive Chairman of the Board.  The Company also announced that as part of its leadership changes, the Board has accepted resignations from Bret W. Wise, Executive Chairman; Jeffrey T. Slovin, Chief Executive Officer and Director; and Christopher T. Clark, President and Chief Operating Officer.  The Company noted that its leadership changes and resignations of Mssrs. Wise, Slovin and Clark were not related to any issues or disagreements regarding the Company's financial disclosures, accounting policies and practices.

Dentsply Sirona is well-positioned to benefit from the attractive demographics in the growing global dental market. Dentsply Sirona is the largest global manufacturer of professional dental products and technologies with:

  • Leading platforms in consumables, equipment and technology with comprehensive end-to-end solutions;
  • A strong R&D pipeline and track record of delivering innovations to the industry that advance patient care;
  • A world class sales and service infrastructure well positioned to capitalize on key industry trends and drive growth.

“Dentsply Sirona’s Board of directors strongly believes that the Company is well-positioned to achieve its business objectives and deliver value for its shareholders, and that new leadership is critical to achieving success,” said Mr. Brandt, Non-Executive Chairman of the Board.

Mr. Brandt continued: “We are pleased to have someone of Mark Thierer’s caliber to lead Dentsply Sirona.  He is a proven healthcare executive with a successful track record both in driving organic growth and transaction execution on a comparable scale to our Company.  In addition, as interim President and COO, Bob returns to our Company with direct operational experience, having served as part of the senior leadership of Dentsply Sirona for fourteen years.” 

Mr. Brandt concluded, “On behalf of the Board, I want to thank Bret, Jeff and Chris for their years of service to Dentsply Sirona. We wish each of them the best in their future endeavors.”

1Non-GAAP adjusted EPS is a non-GAAP financial measures that exclude certain items.  Please refer to the disclosure at the end of the release.

“I am excited about the opportunity to lead Dentsply Sirona, the recognized market leader in the dental industry,” said Mark A. Thierer, Interim Chief Executive Officer.

Mr. Thierer continued: “We have a significant opportunity to create value for our shareholders, distribution partners and the dental professionals and patients that use our products every day.  Our dedicated employees have an unwavering commitment to high quality products, innovation, and best in class customer support helping us empower dental professionals to provide better, safer, faster dental care.”

The Company is also reiterating its adjusted earnings per share guidance for 2017 announced on August 9, 2017 of $2.65 to $2.75 per diluted share.^

Dentsply Sirona’s Board of Directors also approved an amendment and restatement of Dentsply  Sirona’s by-laws that, among other things, eliminated certain of the governance provisions adopted in connection with the merger that created Dentsply Sirona, including the supermajority voting requirements related to adopting certain amendments to the by-laws and corporate governance guidelines/policies and taking specified actions with respect to executive officers, and removed the position of lead independent director.  In addition, the Board of Directors approved the reduction in the size of the Board of Directors from eleven to nine directors.

The Board of Directors has also initiated a search process to identify a permanent CEO and COO.

About Mark A. Thierer:
Mark A. Thierer has more than 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry. Mr. Thierer most recently served as CEO of OptumRx and oversaw all Optum pharmacy care services, including the management of pharmacy benefits, pharmacy network, home delivery pharmacy and specialty pharmacy programs. Prior to this role, Mr. Thierer served as chairman of the Board and CEO of Catamaran, which was one of the nation’s largest pharmacy benefit management companies and merged with OptumRx in 2015. Earlier in his career, Mr. Thierer served as president, CEO and Chairman of SXC Health Solutions, which merged with Catalyst Health Solutions to create Catamaran. During his time as CEO of SXC Health Solutions, the Company posted a compound annual growth rate of 50 percent and had a 50-fold increase in shareholder value. Mr. Thierer earned a Bachelor of Science degree in finance from the University of Minnesota and a Master’s in Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University.

About Bob Size
Bob Size served as Senior Vice President of Dentsply Sirona Inc. from January 2007 through June 2017, with operating responsibilities over both manufacturing operations and selling organizations located in the United States and Europe, as well as the Dentsply North America (DNA) sales organization. Prior to that, Mr. Size served as a Vice President (2006) and as Vice President and General Manager of Dentsply’s Caulk division beginning June 2003 through December 2005. Prior to joining Dentsply, Mr. Size served as Chief Executive Officer and President of Superior MicroPowders following a 16-year career with the Cookson Group PLC, where he held various cross-functional and international leadership positions. Mr. Size has B.S. in Marketing from the University of Buffalo and an MBA in Finance from the Canisius College, Buffalo.
^Our guidance is presented on a non-GAAP basis, as it does not include the impact of prospective acquisitions, acquisitions announced but not yet closed and other non-GAAP items, including restructuring costs, many of which are difficult to predict. Therefore, we cannot provide a full reconciliation of these measures.  The Company is unable at this time to address the probable significance of all of the unavailable information.

About Eric K. Brandt
Eric K. Brandt has served as a Director on the Company’s Board of Directors since 2004.  Mr. Brandt served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Broadcom Corporation, a Fortune 500 high-tech company from 2007-2016.  From September 2005 until March 2007, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer at Avanir Pharmaceuticals. Beginning in 1999, he held various positions at Allergan, Inc., including Corporate Vice President and Chief Financial Officer until 2001, President of Consumer Eye Care from 2001 to 2002, and 2005 until his departure, Executive Vice President of Finance and Technical Operations and Chief Financial Officer. Prior to joining Allergan, he was Vice President and Partner at Boston Consulting Group (‘‘BCG’’), and a senior member of the BCG Health Care and Operations practices. Mr. Brandt served as a director of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. from 2002 to 2009 and as a director of Avanir Pharmaceuticals from 2005 to 2007. He serves on the Board of Directors for LAM Research Corporation as the Chair, Audit Committee. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Altaba Inc. (formerly Yahoo! Inc.) as Chair, Audit and Governance Committees and Board Chairman. Further, he serves on the Board of Directors for MC10, Inc., a private medical device manufacturer.

About Dentsply Sirona:
Dentsply Sirona is the world’s largest manufacturer of professional dental products and technologies, with over a century of innovation and service to the dental industry and patients worldwide.  Dentsply Sirona develops, manufactures, and markets a comprehensive solutions offering including dental and oral health products as well as other consumable medical devices under a strong portfolio of world class brands.  As The Dental Solutions Company™, Dentsply Sirona’s products provide innovative, high-quality and effective solutions to advance patient care and deliver better, safer and faster dentistry.  Dentsply Sirona’s global headquarters is located in York, Pennsylvania, and the international headquarters is based in Salzburg, Austria. The company’s shares are listed in the United States on NASDAQ under the symbol XRAY.  Visit www.dentsplysirona.com for more information about Dentsply Sirona and its products.

Forward Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. These statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology, including "may," "believe," "will," "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," "plan," "intend," "project," "forecast," or other similar words. Statements contained in this press release are based on information presently available to the Company and assumptions that the Company believe to be reasonable. The Company is not assuming any duty to update this information if those facts change or if the assumptions are no longer believed to be reasonable. Investors are cautioned that all such statements involve risks and uncertainties, and important factors could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements. These risk factors include, without limitation; risks that the new businesses will not be integrated successfully; risks that the combined companies will not realize the estimated cost savings, synergies and growth, or that such benefits may take longer to realize than expected; risks relating to unanticipated costs of integration, including operating costs, customer loss or business disruption being greater than expected; unanticipated changes relating to competitive factors in the industries in which the Company operates; the ability to hire and retain key personnel; reliance on and integration of information technology systems; international, national or local economic, social or political conditions that could adversely affect the Company or its customers; risks associated with assumptions made in connection with critical accounting estimates and legal proceedings; the ability to attract new customers and retain existing customers in the manner anticipated; the continued strength of dental and medical device markets; the timing, success and market reception for our new and existing products; uncertainty regarding governmental actions with respect to dental and medical products; outcome of litigation and/or governmental enforcement actions; volatility in the capital markets or changes in our credit ratings; continued support of our products by influential dental and medical professionals; our ability to successfully integrate acquisitions; risks associated with foreign currency exchange rates; risks associated with our competitors' introduction of generic or private label products; our ability to accurately predict dealer and customer inventory levels; our ability to successfully realize the benefits of any cost reduction or restructuring efforts; our ability to obtain a supply of certain finished goods and raw materials from third parties; changes in the general economic environment that could affect the business; and the potential of international unrest, economic downturn or effects of currencies, tax assessments, tax adjustments, anticipated tax rates, raw material costs or availability, benefit or retirement plan costs, or other regulatory compliance costs. The foregoing list of factors is not exhaustive.

Non-US GAAP Financial Measures

In addition to the results reported in accordance with US GAAP, the Company provides adjusted net income attributable to Dentsply Sirona and adjusted earnings per diluted common share (“adjusted EPS”).  The Company discloses adjusted net income attributable to Dentsply Sirona to allow investors to evaluate the performance of the Company’s operations exclusive of certain items that impact the comparability of results from period to period and may not be indicative of past or future performance of the normal operations of the Company and certain large non-cash charges related to purchased intangible assets.  The Company believes that this information is helpful in understanding underlying operating trends and cash flow generation.

The principal measurements used by the Company in evaluating its business are: (1) constant currency sales growth by segment and geographic region; (2) internal sales growth by segment and geographic region; and (3) adjusted  operating income and margins of each reportable segment, which excludes the impacts of purchase  accounting, corporate expenses, and certain other items to enhance the comparability of results  period to period.  These principal measurements are not calculated in accordance with accounting  principles generally accepted in the United States; therefore, these items represent non-US GAAP  measures. These non-US GAAP measures may differ from other companies and should not  be considered in isolation from, or as a substitute for, measures of financial performance prepared in accordance with US GAAP.

The Company defines “constant currency sales growth” as the increase or decrease in net sales from period to period excluding precious metal content and the impact of changes in foreign currency exchange rates. This impact is calculated by comparing current-period revenues to prior-period revenues, with both periods converted at the U.S. dollar to local currency foreign exchange rate for each month of the prior period, for the currencies in which the Company does business.

The Company defines “internal sales growth” as constant currency sales growth excluding the impacts of net acquisitions and divestitures, merger accounting impacts and discontinued products.

Management also believes that the presentation of net sales, excluding precious metal content, provides useful information to investors because a portion of Dentsply Sirona’s net sales is comprised of sales of precious metals generated through sales of the Company’s precious metal dental alloy products, which are used by third parties to construct crown and bridge materials. Due to the fluctuations of precious metal prices and because the cost of the precious metal content of the Company’s sales is largely passed through to customers and has minimal effect on earnings, Dentsply Sirona reports net sales both with and without precious metal content to show the Company’s performance independent of precious metal price volatility and to enhance comparability of performance between periods. The Company uses its cost of precious metal purchased as a proxy for the precious metal content of sales, as the precious metal content of sales is not separately tracked and invoiced to customers. The Company believes that it is reasonable to use the cost of precious metal content purchased in this manner since precious metal dental alloy sale prices are typically adjusted when the prices of underlying precious metals change.

Adjusted net income and adjusted EPS are important internal measures for the Company.  Senior management receives a monthly analysis of operating results that includes adjusted net income and adjusted EPS and the performance of the Company is measured on this basis along with other performance metrics.

The adjusted net income attributable to Dentsply Sirona consists of net income attributable to Dentsply Sirona adjusted to exclude the following:

(1) Business combination related costs and fair value adjustments.  These adjustments include costs related to integrating and consummating mergers and recently acquired businesses, as well as costs, gains and losses related to the disposal of businesses or product lines.  In addition, this category includes the roll off to the consolidated statement of operations of fair value adjustments related to business combinations, except for amortization expense noted below.  These items are irregular in timing and as such may not be indicative of past and future performance of the Company and are therefore excluded to allow investors to better understand underlying operating trends.

(2) Restructuring program related costs and other costs.  These adjustments include costs related to the implementation of restructuring initiatives as well as certain other costs.  These costs can include, but are not limited to, severance costs, facility closure costs, lease and contract terminations costs, related professional service costs, duplicate facility and labor costs associated with specific restructuring initiatives, as well as, legal settlements and impairments of assets. These items are irregular in timing, amount and impact to the Company’s financial performance.  As such, these items may not be indicative of past and future performance of the Company and are therefore excluded for the purpose of understanding underlying operating trends.

(3) Amortization of purchased intangible assets.  This adjustment excludes the periodic amortization expense related to purchased intangible assets.  Amortization expense has been excluded from adjusted net income attributed to Dentsply Sirona to allow investors to evaluate and understand operating trends excluding these large non-cash charges.

(4) Credit risk and fair value adjustments.  These adjustments include both the cost and income impacts of adjustments in certain assets and liabilities including the Company’s pension obligations, that are recorded through net income which are due solely to the changes in fair value and credit risk.  These items can be variable and driven more by market conditions than the Company’s operating performance.  As such, these items may not be indicative of past and future performance of the Company and therefore are excluded for comparability purposes.

(5) Certain fair value adjustments related to an unconsolidated affiliated company.  This adjustment represents the fair value adjustment of the unconsolidated affiliated company’s convertible debt instrument held by the Company.  The affiliate is accounted for under the equity method of accounting.  The fair value adjustment is driven by open market pricing of the affiliate’s equity instruments, which has a high degree of variability and may not be indicative of the operating performance of the affiliate or the Company.

(6) Income tax related adjustments.  These adjustments include both income tax expenses and income tax benefits that are representative of income tax adjustments mostly related to prior periods, as well as the final settlement of income tax audits, and discrete tax items resulting from the implementation of restructuring initiatives.  These adjustments are irregular in timing and amount and may significantly impact the Company’s operating performance.  As such, these items may not be indicative of past and future performance of the Company and therefore are excluded for comparability purposes.

Adjusted earnings per diluted common share is calculated by dividing adjusted net income attributable to Dentsply Sirona by diluted weighted-average common shares outstanding.  Adjusted net income attributable to Dentsply Sirona and adjusted earnings per diluted common share are considered measures not calculated in accordance with US GAAP, and therefore are non-US GAAP measures.  These non-US GAAP measures may differ from other companies.  Income tax related adjustments may include the impact to adjust the interim effective income tax rate to the expected annual effective tax rate.  The non-US GAAP financial information should not be considered in isolation from, or as a substitute for, measures of financial performance prepared in accordance with US GAAP