That's Life: Black Swan Effect
That's Life: Black Swan Effect
Recently, I was speaking with my friend Larry Zenk at Keller Dental Laboratory about the unprecedented popularity of BruxZir Total Zirconia crowns. Larry called it a Black Swan occurrence. I must say I have to agree. While I knew this product had some features and benefits that I was sure would be attractive to dentists, I did not see the perfect storm brewing. Did reports of chipping on veneered zirconia restorations, the high cost of gold, the appeal of a low cost CAD/CAM restorations all came into play in just the right combination, at just the right time? Or did a fear of latent porcelain failures on zirconia frameworks drive doctors to seek out a virtually indestructible solution to a problem that has not really materialized?
How do we explain such off the hook fervor for these new crowns?
Maybe we can’t, and that’s exactly what the Black Swan theory is all about. Bestselling author Nassin Taleb continues his study of randomness in his interesting book, The Black Swan, where he examines the influence of highly improbable and unpredictable events that have massive impact.
We humans have a hard time with unpredictable occurrences and we often craft intricate explanations for the unexplainable. How many times have we had an especially prosperous first or second quarter of the year, and surmised that people must have decided to spend their tax returns on dentistry this year, or perhaps they used a new year of dental benefits for the long delayed treatment?
By the same token, how many times have we had a bad quarter and explained it away, saying that people spent too much on holiday shopping, or that the weather had hammered commerce in some region that affected us? Slow summer? It was because of vacations. Busy summer? Staycations and spending on self. On and on it goes, as we seek some kind of order to events contrary to our expectations.
While this may give us some kind of emotional satisfaction and help us sleep better with the idea that we do understand what is going on in our little corner of the universe, it really is a useless exercise in the long run, and may only further frustrate you when the same conditions seem to align themselves, but outside events don’t.
Whatever the explanation, BruxZir started off with a humble claim, “more brawn than beauty” and surprised everyone by becoming the labs new prom queen. In an industry where most ads directed to dentists and patients are littered with beautiful people and sparkling smiles, BruxZir said, “look, I’m not pretty, but I’m better looking than a metal occlusal!” I think that by creating low expectations and then over-delivering in the esthetics department, dentists were floored and fell in love with this remarkable little restoration.
This is a rare product in that it has a very high interest from dentists, and they have a very high re-order rate which shows that they are exceeding expectations and perceived as a value. The CAD CAM process has created a high degree of precision that has reduced remakes and returns for BruxZir to the level of full cast non-precious metal, which is to say, about equal to the number of bad impressions or uncontrollable redos. Lab errors are virtually zero.
Glidewell’s R&D team has developed a unique zirconia material and processing method, and a special anatomical library for milling that has made this product very difficult to counterfeit or copy, though people are desperately trying to do just that. In what until now has been a flagging economy for most of us, this self proclaimed ugly duckling has been a beautiful black swan!