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How I Invented a Dental Product as an RDH

Patricia Blundon tells us how she went from a simple idea to instrument! The process was neither simple, easy or quick.

Hello! My name is Patricia Blundon and I have been a Registered Dental Hygienist in Ontario, Canada for over 25 years. I am the sole owner, operator, and creator of DH EssentialsTM where I designed and now manufacture the Dental Hygiene Clip Mirror.™ 

More than 15 years ago on a typical day with a not so typical patient, I began the familiar yet arduous task of dental hygiene treatment. Like all Dental Hygienists in clinical practice, I had a number of patients with special needs requiring extra time and special care. There are those with a strong tongue and those with that familiar tight lower lip that covers the lower anterior teeth making visibility nearly impossible.

On this day, this patient met this care challenge but also shared a wonderful, infectious laugh that you could hear throughout the office and still warms my heart to this day. So this day, with lips pursed (both his and mine), I picked up my cavitron and began. Next, with tongue protruding (just his), water flowing and visibility next to nil, I thought to myself “Why does this have to be so hard? As you all know, trying to use your mirror, suction and cavitron sometimes require an extra hand. I thought to myself “If only there was a way to cavitron, suction and use my mirror all at the same time.” And then I thought, envisioned really, a mirror attached to my saliva ejector. This was the birth of Dental Hygiene Clip Mirror.™ 

“Being a Dental Hygienist who knew nothing about making a prototype or the manufacturing process was a huge challenge.”

 

And so it had begun, the first step was to patent my idea. I read a dozen books on how to patent your ideas and I would drive two hours to go to the closest patent office to research and review patent applications. I would come home and almost immediately begin scouring the internet for “prior art” as it is called or anything that resembled my invention.

More than a thousand hours of patent searching and research and a sizeable financial investment, I filed my first patent application. So there it was, a patent application was filed and now I could find someone to buy my patent rights and pay a large royalty. I continued to pursue companies to work with on bringing The Dental Hygiene Clip Mirror.™ to life but hit one roadblock after another. The days and then years passed.

So many years later with two little boys growing more independent, my mother passing away and the routine of home and work becoming well, a routine I needed some inspiration. So I decided to revisit the dream of my Clip Mirror. I set out again to sell my Clip Mirror to a major dental supply company. They would not sign agreements to protect my intellectual property. It did not feel right. I emailed hygienists in the business looking for advice and direction. One Dental Hygienist, in particular, told me to personally call me and encourage me to go it on my own, create my own company and begin manufacturing. I decided to take her advice and move forward.

Being a Dental Hygienist who knew nothing about making a prototype or the manufacturing process was a huge challenge. I knew nothing and no-one who could help me. I had envisioned a dental mirror with a clip so that is where I began. I started checking hardware stores for anything resembling a clip that I could modify. I made a rough sketch and contacted a number of companies asking if they could make this.

Most never replied but then I found Roger in Michigan who agreed to help and walked me through the process and made me the stainless steel clip I required.

This process was expensive as a mold had to be made and I had 25 very costly clips manufactured. I then needed to continue with the prototype and find a welder who could grind the stem of a dental mirror and weld on my clip. More internet searching and phone calls later, I found Jim in New York who welded my first prototype. I was thrilled and yet disappointed while when using The Clip Mirror in my own practice I decided I needed to change the clip itself to make rolled ends where a safety ligature of floss could be ed. Back to the drawing board and more tooling costs at $500 a shot. I had the second prototype made. So now that I had the perfect clip, I needed the perfect mirror. I discovered that the standard rhodium mirror that most Dental Hygienists used were nowhere as bright and clear as a titanium mirror. I began with titanium and now use the brightest Ultravision mirrors from Hahnenkratt in Germany.

Patricia Blunton DHessentials clip mirrorBy 2013, I had tooled, prototyped and manufactured my first batch of Clip Mirrors and began to sell them in Canada. In order to sell My Clip Mirror in Canada, I also needed to obtain and maintain Health Canada approval. This was not an easy feat. I had to read page upon page of guidelines and policies and regurgitate it to make binders of policies, recall processes, flowcharts and forms only to be chosen for not one but two in-home Health Canada audits. After that FDA was next on the list.

This meant obtaining an FDA medical device establishment license and close to $4000 in annual license fees. Well, it was a huge investment in time and money but I eventually began to see interest from the States as well as other countries from around the world. The Clip Mirror has been featured in the Dental Tribune International, Dentistry IQ’s “ Exciting new products for dental hygienists to discover this year” June 22, 2017, By Jamie Collins, RDH, CDA. Oral Health magazine Canada, Oh Canada magazine CDHA’s member Magazine and most recently reviewed by HygieneEdge in their YouTube video “The Clip Mirror By DH Essentials.

More importantly is the feedback and comments I have received from fellow Dental Hygienists who use The Dental Hygiene Clip Mirror.™ to improve their clinical treatment and reduce work-related neck and back pain. I have shared a few of these Testimonials on my website www.dhessentials.com. I would be delighted to receive and share your personal experience on how The Dental Hygiene Clip Mirror.™ has improved the way you provide care to your patients. 

Patricia Blundon, RDH.

 

About the Author:

Hello! My name is Patricia Blundon and I have been a Registered Dental Hygienist in Ontario for over 20 years. My recent Blog posting on CDHA’s members’ online community forum, titled “Hygienist Designed and Manufactured Clip Mirror™ by DH Essentials”, talks about working in a non-traditional Dental Hygiene setting.

I am the sole owner and operator of DH Essentials™ where I designed and now manufacture and sell the Dental Hygiene Clip Mirror™ under a medical device establishment license regulated by Health Canada. I also carry titanium dental mouth mirrors as well which are fabricated exclusively for DH Essentials™ by Prodont-Holliger™ in France. (It was important for me to use only the best quality materials.)

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