It was just after the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic – for its industry and those who depend on it for their healthcare – when Prima Dental was asked to take on a ‘radical project’ to help make dentistry safer for all.
According to the British Dental Association (BDA), there were 19 million fewer dental appointments in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and the impact on oral health and the economic viability of the sector was dramatic.
It prompted Innovate UK to award the pioneering Gloucestershire-based Prima Dental £472,000 and challenge it to improve and help futureproof the safety of patients and dentists across the world by reducing the risk of virus transmission.
Currently in development, that ‘game-changing’ technology remains top secret, but the company has been able to give its first update.
Dr Marilyn Goh, head of research and innovation at Prima Dental, a manufacturer of dental burs that exports to more than 90 countries, said: 'The project is going well so far. We are making good progress and seeing interesting and positive results.
‘We have also learnt much and I believe more knowledge is to be gained during the course of the project.'
Prima Dental (which turns over £30 million-plus annually, employs 230 staff and has been busy investing £3 million in 2022) is partnering with King’s College London on the 14-month project.
Professor Owen Addison, from King’s College London, said: ‘Success will lead to a new low-cost product that can be rapidly manufactured and deployed worldwide, increasing patient and staff safety and helping to improve public oral health provision and patients' confidence in the dental sector.’
In July this year, the world-leading manufacturer confirmed it had not just returned to pre-pandemic sales, but was exceeding them by 20 per cent.
Its growth also triggered a recruitment drive for the Quedgeley-headquartered firm, which has already seen it hire 70 new staff, while it remains on the lookout for future talent.