Innovators special feature: Dr Mark Knapp

Dr Mark Knapp, PlaqPro inventor
Dr Mark Knapp, PlaqPro inventor

‘‘ People think that dental surgeries run on electricity. They don’t; they run on credibility,” says Dr Mark Knapp. “I think that more and more surgeries are adopting preventive dentistry. And I suspect whenever they do, they gain a little more credibility from the patients. It almost makes sense from a business point of view. If we can show that we’re concerned with their long-term welfare, it builds trust.” Dr Knapp, who runs a practice in Melbourne’s South Yarra, has been involved in developing a simple but clever preventive product that helps patients check their own toothbrushing skills. Called PlaqPro, and developed with Dentalife in Ringwood, Victoria, it’s a kit containing toothpaste with fluorescein, a disclosing solution, and a soft-bristled toothbrush with a small UV light at the end. After brushing their teeth with the toothpaste, users can turn the toothbrush around and shine the UV light on their teeth to see any leftover plaque glowing yellow because of the fluorescein. Of course, plaque-disclosing erythrosin tablets have been around for a long time, Dr Knapp admits. “But the trouble with the red-disclosing erythrosin is that it stains the lips, it stains the gums and if they stood up the wrong way, it’ll get on their clothing. It’s a devil to get the stuff out. So if we could have a disclosing solution that was discreet, didn’t make a mess, that was going to be a step forward.” The use of fluorescein was first developed by Professor Barrie Gillings in the 1970’s. “It really was quite a sensation,” says Dr Knapp. “I remember taking the kids to the Royal Show and putting them through a plaque tunnel they had their teeth painted by some nurses.
They’d look in the mirror with a little bit of a UV light and they’d see the plaque shining yellow.” Professor Gillings then developed that idea further, taking a cheap little electric toothbrush from the supermarket, switched the batteries around, put an LED light on the back of it. Later on, as they were talking about it, Dr Knapp came up with the idea of using the fluorescein disclosing solution in a toothpaste. “For a year or two, I shopped around at the various companies, having disclosure agreements signed, and tried to spark their interest. Then I came across Dentalife,” he says. “Subsequently, Andrew Stray of Dentalife took up the offer to develop it. He has come up with a toothbrush that I think is very good. It has got soft bristles, and soft bristles are important to get access into the gum margins or the crevices between teeth. But he has also come up with a very nice toothpaste.” The toothpaste also contains extra xylitol (which inhibits the growth of S. mutans and increases salivary flow) and reduced levels of hydrated silica, so it
is less abrasive and doesn’t dry the mouth. 

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  1. Hi Mark,

    We’ll said! – true business is about caring for people first and foremost ( include yourself in this ) , profit will follow. An intention of true care for patients in whatever procedure you perform for them will be felt by them… No doubt… And this benefits everyone.

    So it also follows on that preventative dentistry ( in its many forms ) is then a natural facet of any truly caring dental practice.

    We all know lifestyle choices are the cause of dental decay, more self worth and self care leads to less sugar intake for patients, staff and patients alike.

    Keep it up Mark!


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