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A Heritage of Innovation: The History of Glidewell

When Glidewell opened for business as a dental lab in January 1970, its customer base could be counted on one hand and its workforce could be counted on the other. The company’s design and manufacturing protocols, while state-of-the-art for their time, were still highly analog and labor-intensive. Today, over 4,300 Glidewell professionals design and manufacture crowns, bridges, dentures, implants and more for dentists around the globe. The company’s stunning growth has been driven by an array of factors, but primary among those is its commitment to innovation in the domain of dental technology.
young Jim Glidewell

Commitment to Research and Development

By the turn of the century, Glidewell had already developed dozens of materials and laboratory services that incrementally pushed both the company and the industry forward: Capture® Impression Material, Transition Crowns and Bridges®, In-Ceram® Zirconia, Silent Nite® Sleep Appliances, BioTemps® Provisionals, and so on. Extensive R&D in materials science and the employment of CAD/CAM technology throughout the laboratory set the stage for one of Glidewell’s most significant innovations — one that would spearhead exponential growth at the company and reshape the restorative landscape in dentistry.

The Monolithic Revolution

In the summer of 2009, Glidewell introduced the dental community to BruxZir® Zirconia, a monolithic zirconia restorative material indicated as a tooth-colored alternative to PFMs and cast gold restorations. After nearly a decade of scientific evaluation by TRAC Research (the clinical studies division of the independent Gordon J. Christensen Clinicians Report®), BruxZir restorations still exhibited a 100 percent survival rate and zero terminal fractures.* And more than a decade after its launch, BruxZir has become the single most-prescribed brand of solid zirconia restorations, with 24 million BruxZir restorations prescribed and placed worldwide so far.

More recently, Glidewell’s drive for innovation was revealed with the introduction of the™ In-Office Solution — a restoration ecosystem that empowers doctors to produce high-quality BruxZir restorations chairside in under 45 minutes. “While it may seem counterintuitive for a lab-driven enterprise to assist its customers in producing their own restorations, we view it as an example of our ongoing commitment to provide dentists the tools and techniques needed to deliver treatment to more of those in need,” said President and CEO Jim Glidewell, CDT.

BruxZir Hammer test
doctor and patient

What Comes Next

With each passing year, Glidewell pushes the industry farther and farther past what was thought possible in 1970. New developments in artificial intelligence, CT scanning, in-office milling, dental implants, and other technologies promise even greater changes capable of aiding Glidewell in its long-stated mission to make quality restorative dentistry more affordable and accessible to patients worldwide.

*An independent, nonprofit, dental education and product testing foundation, Clinicians Report, September, 2020. For full report, go to Study result apply to BruxZir 2009 3Y zirconia.
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