One of the most striking facets about the rapid pace of innovation in dentistry is just how much of it is driven by doctors themselves.

WHEN MOST PEOPLE think about innovation, technology usually springs first to mind. Yet despite an unprecedented recent explosion of dental tech, what’s most compelling is how human ingenuity is driving the latest advances. So many innovations are sparked not in research labs but, rather, by doctors themselves.

At Benco Dental, we see this firsthand. Our customers are passionate early adopters in a profession relying largely on basic, unchanging staples. About one in every four dollars they spend is on products introduced over the last three years. It’s just one strong indicator of how the profession is happily embracing change.

That’s why, for our second annual “Year in Innovation” issue of Incisal Edge, we go beyond technology and tell the stories of how people are transforming dentistry through forward thinking and novel ideas. Take our cover story on artificial intelligence, for example. Doctors are fueling adoption of AI at increasing speed, and their uses are guiding a new generation of tech entrepreneurs to shape dentistry’s clinical future.

Even practice models themselves are being disrupted from the inside. On page 28, we report on how some powerful players are reinventing the business of dentistry for independent practitioners, groups and DSOs . . . and what that means for you. We also take you behind the scenes for a closer look at how the world’s most innovative labs are leveraging new machines, materials and automation to deliver precision results at extraordinary scale and speed.

Then there are the big ideas in brand innovation. While established names such as Invisalign, Byte and Smile Direct Club dominate the ortho space, there’s still room for challengers like Dr. Misee Harris. Could her company, Str8, or one similar to it, successfully take on the Goliaths to become the Dollar Shave Club of ortho? We’ll be watching.

Finally, we couldn’t celebrate dental innovation without honoring the lifetime achievements of its most influential change agents. On page 34, we welcome two new honorees into our Dental Innovators Hall of Fame. Dr. John A. Molinari is dentistry’s most prolific infection-control researcher. His fellow inductee, Dr. Edward F. Rossomando, capped his legacy as a respected educator and researcher by founding the Center for Research and Education in Technology (CRET), fiercely dedicated to advancing the adoption of new technology at dental schools nationwide.

Meanwhile, don’t miss our 2022 Design Competition. For the ninth year in a row, we bring you practice designs that are leading the way in esthetics, functionality, patient friendliness and, of course, sheer wow factor.

We hope you find inspiration and motivation in this issue—and also pause to appreciate your own accomplishments during these exciting times.