Interview: “EAP abutments are the new gold standard”
COLOGNE, Germany: At the 2021 International Dental Show in Cologne, Dental Tribune met with Prof. Mario Kern, who is the founder and CEO of EAP Abutments—an Austrian company dedicated to helping dentists and dental technicians achieve the best possible prosthetic implant restorations for their patients in a quick, predictable and sustainable way. In the interview, Prof. Kern described how the company was started.
The story of EAP began in 2009, when Prof. Kern and his wife, Dr Birgit Kern, who each have almost fifteen years of experience in dental medicine, noticed massive problems with their patients’ abutments. About two-thirds of cases included either issues that were very time-consuming to fix or issues that could not be corrected. After consulting with international colleagues, they concluded that it was highly probable that there was a systemic error in the products used and that the problems had not resulted from incorrect treatment methods.
The observation of strong adhesions on titanium healing abutments, free of inflammation and strongly adherent, prompted Prof. Kern to conduct a prospective human study in his private practice. More than 160 electron micrographs of T-base abutments showed a clear picture of the limiting factor of the adhesive joint. Unaware of the problem, as Prof. Kern himself had been, many dentists and dental technicians cause an iatrogenic pseudo-pocket. However, there was no product available on the market at that time to fix this problem, so Prof. Kern and his wife decided to manufacture their own. This is how EAP abutments were born.
“EAP abutments are patient-specific bowl-shaped titanium abutments that are anodised and offer the best conditions for cells to accumulate. Also, they combine the biocompatibility of a titanium abutment and the aesthetics of a hybrid abutment, but without the disadvantages that have been evident for years with these standard abutments,” Prof. Kern explained and added that, with their product, about 80–90% of treatment time can be saved. “This benefits the patient, of course, but also the dentist and the dental technician—we have three winners,” he said.
Even though the solution seems too simple and obvious, the implementation was very complex and took more than ten years of development. From day one, Prof. Kern and his team paid attention to the highest quality and manufactured the abutments themselves. They used CAD/CAM milling machines from Swiss or German companies and only certified raw materials from European manufacturers. Anodisation is also carried out in-house.
“At the moment, we produce about 50–100 abutments per week, and since 2019, when our product hit the market, we have inserted around 400–500 abutments,” the company CEO said. The COVID-19 pandemic has also influenced the growing business, which is why Prof. Kern completed a crowdfunding campaign in 2021. He said: “I think it was one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns in Austria ever, and we raised €800,000 in six weeks. There was an approximately 50/50 split in investors between dentists/dental technicians and patients.”
For now, EAP abutments are available on the European market, but next year, the plan is to launch on the US market as well. Answering the question whether he regards the major global players in the implant industry as a threat to this small business, Prof. Kern said he was not concerned. “The new companies are not able to be innovative in a way that we are because they are too focused on what they already have. A small company is so much more flexible, and we are quicker and freer in the decisions that are made.” He added: “What we don’t really understand is that everybody is talking about innovation on their homepages but, when we talk to the larger companies about cooperation, the response always is that they would rather stick to the standard. With us, it’s not just talk—we are real innovators, and EAP abutments are the new gold standard.”