TC Orthodontic Lab
Interview with:
Lloyd H. Truax, DDS, MSD
and Charles Praska, DDS, MS PA
Business News, Financial News, Stocks, Money & Investment Ideas, CEO Interview
and Information on their
Truax Correctors Appliances for the dental community to correct large overjets, overbites, large underbites (Class III malocclusion) and TMD.

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People with large overbite, underbite and/or temporomandibular joint dysfunction  (TMD) seldom need surgery. They can be successfully treated with modern removable functional appliances and braces.

Healthcare
Orthodontics
(Privately held)

TC Orthodontic Lab

15 7th Avenue N.W.
Rochester, MN 55901
Phone: 507-280-7778 or 1-888-698-3865

www.truaxcorrectors.com

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Lloyd H. Truax, DDS, MSD

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Charles Praska, DDS, MS PA

Interview conducted by:
Walter Banks
Publisher

CEOCFOinterviews.com
May 2004

BIO:
Lloyd H. Truax D.D.S., M.S.D., A.B.O.

Veteran WWII U.S. Army Air Corps navigator B24, China. Participated in 62 combat missions with over 400 combat flight hours.

Graduate of University of Minnesota with a master’s degree in orthodontics, Diplomat of American Board of Orthodontics, Started the Orthodontic treatment practice of the Mayo Clinic. Practicing the timing of tooth guidance, interceptive, and comprehensive orthodontic treatment using removable appliances since the late 1950’s, functional appliances, and TMD since the early 1970’s. Developed the Clear vacuum formed Tru-Tain retainers (1972), Crown Contours, (pat.), Clasp-lass appliances (pat.), Truax Corrector appliances (pat.) TC II & TC III

Charles Praska, DDS, MS PA
Graduated from the University of Minnesota with a master’s degree in orthodontics. Started practicing tooth guidance, interceptive and comprehensive orthodontic treatment using removable appliances in 1990.

Company Profile:
TC Orthodontic Lab located in Rochester, MN, developed and manufactures The Truax Correctors Appliances for the dental community.

CEOCFOinterviews: Dr. Truax, what is a Truax Corrector, and how long has it been around?

Dr. Truax:   "The Truax Correctors are removable functional/orthopedic appliances. The TC II appliance will correct large overjets, overbites and TMD. The TC III appliances will correct large underbites (Class III malocclusion). Surgery is seldom necessary.

The Truax Correctors are the only removable functional appliances that cover the teeth and a large portion of the supporting alveolar bone. Dental and skeletal changes take less time than functional appliances that use metal clasps or fixed braces.  The appliances are esthetic without wires and the patients are able to eat with the appliances in their mouth. This increases the amount of skeletal changes, less tipping of teeth, reduces length of treatment time, and extractions of permanent teeth.

These corrector appliances provide transverse and sagittal changes in each arch while at the same time changing the antero-posterior relationship of the maxillae and mandible. Occlusal interferences are eliminated. The Truax Corrector II repositions the mandible forward a definite prescribed amount, in steps, if indicated and the Truax Corrector III delivers a continuous class III force. ”

CEOCFOinterviews: Before your device came along, was anyone able to change the jaw relationship without surgery?

Dr. Truax: “Yes, since the early 1930’s various types of removal functional appliances have been developed to change jaw relationships. Dentists in Europe in the early 1900’s first expressed Dentofacial orthopedic concerns. Van Loon’s 1915 paper, Dr. R Schwart and Dr. P. Simon in the 1920’s. This led to the beginning of functional orthodontic/orthopedic appliances."

CEOCFOinterviews: Why does the removable functional appliance produce the largest skeletal change, while the fixed appliance does not?

Dr. Truax: “Functional appliances disocclude the teeth and change oral function, which creates dentofacial-orthopedic changes.  Fixed appliances are attached to teeth to align teeth and can produce much less skeletal changes.”

CEOCFOinterviews: So you can change overbites or underbites with conventional orthodontics, but there can be an undesired outcome.

Dr. Truax: “That is correct! Not only do you have less skeletal change with braces than with our appliances, but also if the change needed is skeletal, then someone may decide to put regular braces on the teeth and choose to do jaw surgery. Many times it is one jaw, but most of the time it is two-jaw surgery, which is not only very expensive, but in many cases there may be a permanent numbing of the lips, tongue and or cheeks. These are unwanted results that certainly would not occur using our Truax Corrector appliance.”

CEOCFOinterviews: So surgery is something that one would want to avoid!

Dr. Truax: “Definitely – jaw relationships can easily be changed during growth and development even without growth. Jaw and joint relationships can be corrected with removable functional appliances.   A man in his mid fifties had been examined and told that to change his occlusion or bite he would need to have 2 upper permanent teeth extracted, or double jaw surgery, or maybe even both.

Stan M. Testimonial “I have always had crooked teeth as long as I can remember.  In my teens I wore braces, but the orthodontist gave me a small retainer (turtle), which covered only my upper front teeth.  All the teeth soon went back to their original-crooked position.

My teeth were so bad; I tried not to smile in public. When I was in my late 50’s I finally decided I could afford to have them corrected.   I interviewed an orthodontist in my hometown and he recommended removing my upper eyeteeth to make room for the rest of the teeth or jaw surgery. That scared me these teeth have important functions.  Then I interviewed Dr. Truax and Dr. Praska, who recommended an adjustable appliance that would spread my upper jaw apart and at the same time move my lower jaw forward.  These appliances were somewhat awkward to wear but worth the bother.  The appliances were in my mouth 23 hours a day (only taken out to eat and brush) for about 12 months.  The teeth were then moved and adjusted a little more wearing the conventional braces for another 12 months.  My teeth are now perfect and it is such a pleasure to smile, my face is improved and I feel much better about my looks.

I am a consulting engineer and tend to analyze everything, and in my opinion normal orthodontic techniques: such as removing teeth, would have been bad for maintaining a long term health maintenance program”

CEOCFOinterviews: Knowing that surgery could result in permanent numbing of the lips, tongue and cheeks, is this something that today’s orthodontists are recommending for patients?

Dr. Truax: “Yes, most orthodontist apparently do not realize or believe that the jaw and joint relationships can be permanently changed with removable functional appliances. Fixed appliance therapy is great for moving teeth but not for large skeletal changes.  The use of both functional and fixed appliances provides the best results without surgery."

CEOCFOinterviews: How long does it generally take to correct an overbite or underbite with your Truax Corrector?

Dr. Truax: It takes from 6 to 14 months with a Truax Corrector for skeletal changes and is usually followed with braces for 8-12 months to detail the occlusion of the teeth. We use Tru-Tain clear plastic retainers (we developed in 1972) for a very positive retention."

CEOCFOinterviews: Dr. Praska, how long have you been working with Dr. Truax?

Dr. Praska: “I joined Dr. Truax in June of 1990 after I finished my Orthodontic residency at the University of Minnesota.”

CEOCFOinterviews: While in school did they teach you about the Truax Corrector?

Dr. Praska: “No, I learned a more conventional type of treatment, involving mainly permanent tooth extractions and jaw surgery. I did use an older functional appliance called a bionator on one child but in retrospect, I know I did not use it correctly and seen only limited success. I finished my training in 1990 and I believe they are teaching the same conventional treatments today.”

CEOCFOinterviews: Dr. Truax, what brought Dr. Praska to your doorstep?

Dr. Truax: “In 1990 I was not ready to retire, but getting ready to start slowing down. I wanted to have an associate come in, with the idea that he wouldn’t do things in just the conventional way. We see children early with the idea of reducing developing problems, and by doing it in that manner; we take out far fewer permanent teeth and we rarely have to do any jaw surgery. Our patients have regular braces on for less time and the end result is more stable. If you wait until teeth come in and go out of position, it is necessary to take out far more permanent teeth, and once they are crooked everyone knows that teeth will partially return to their original positions. We also treat many adults that have orthodontic/or orthopedic problems.”

CEOCFOinterviews: So Dr. Praska, you joined Dr. Truax right out of school?

Dr. Praska: “Dr. Truax has had an orthodontic practice here in this location since 1960 and he was on the dental staff of the Mayo Clinic for two years prior and decided to return to individual practice. I came right out of school. In-fact, you asked earlier what brought me to his doorstep, it was a simple advertisement that someone in Minnesota was looking to bring on another orthodontist, and nothing about the area he was in, or who he was! I thought that was interesting and I applied. We got together at one of our state dental meetings and talked and hit it off well. I came down a few months later to visit him at his practice and he had in patients that he had treated, and he took the time to show me what he was doing and why. That was all I needed, to see that it was something different, and to see the faces of the kids that weren’t having permanent teeth out and weren’t having jaw surgery. The important thing was how well everything stayed; I was used to seeing patients, that two, three, and four years out of braces, with relapse and extraction spaces opening up. I was looking at Dr. Truax’s patients two, three and four years out of treatment, and everything was staying so beautiful and the faces looked so good, that I knew he was doing something different that I was going to like.”

CEOCFOinterviews: Tell us about the development of the Truax Corrector?

Dr. Praska: “We had been using modifications of the newest types of functional appliances at the time, so I had already been able to see what a functional appliance could do. When we worked up the Truax Correctors, we put in enough new ideas to improve on some of the older versions of the appliances and we had them produce more of what we wanted in the area of skeletal changes and less of what we didn’t want in the dental changes, in a shorter period of time.”

CEOCFOinterviews: How has the Truax Corrector been received in the dental community?

Dr. Truax: “Unfortunately, most dentists are not very receptive to major changes, especially if it is something that involves patient compliance. If you have to take an appliance in and out; they are concerned about patient cooperation.”

CEOCFOinterviews: Why is it that most dentists don’t want to get involved with your appliance?

Dr. Truax: “The use of modern removable functional appliances is not taught at most of the universities. If the professors at the universities realized orthodontic/orthopedic appliances could correct large dentofacial orthopedic and TMD problems, I think they would be teaching it. When skeletal problems are involved a combination of functional appliances followed with fixed braces will produce the best end results."

CEOCFOinterviews: Can you give us an example of when a patient might remove the appliance?

Dr. Truax: “The appliances need to be removed for brushing and cleaning and during sports when a mouthguard needs to be worn. They can be occasionally left out of the mouth for short periods of time, however if left out for long periods of time or placed only at night the treatment will take longer. ”

CEOCFOinterviews: Do you also treat adults?

Dr. Truax: “Oh yes! We also treat adults without surgery. We just finished one gentleman that had lived in three different states, and was told in each state that the only thing that could take care of his problem was jaw surgery. We treated him with a TC II followed by braces to detail without surgery.

 Doug F. Testimonial: I just wanted to write you a note now that my treatment is coming to and end. After hearing from 3 orthodontists in 3 different states, I am very please with the outcome of my treatment. I was told that the only way to correct my overbite/overjet problem was to have surgery on my jaw.  I balked at this because it was major surgery. Over the last ten years I have been having a problem with my lower teeth driving food up into my upper palette and causing pain. With your way of moving the jaw you have relieved all of my problems without surgery. The process only took a little over 3 years to complete and the result is fantastic.  The best thing I can say to you is that my wife says I smile more than ever.  If you ever need a salesman please give me a call, I believe in this product."

CEOCFOinterviews: What are some of the complications that came along with people that have underbites and overbites is there any pain that they experience?

Dr. Truax: “More so with an overbite than an underbite. Many times the mandible or lower jaw is locked into a deep bite with the upper jaw and TMD symptoms are more likely to occur.”

CEOCFOinterviews: Is that what is referred to as TMD (Temporomandibular joint dysfunction)?

Dr. Praska: “Yes.”

CEOCFOinterviews: How prevalent is this, are there thousands or hundreds of thousands of people out there with this problem?

Dr. Truax: “Oh definitely! Don’t you think so Chuck?”

Dr. Praska: “There are probably thousands in Minnesota alone and millions throughout the world.”

CEOCFOinterviews: Do you have patients who live out side of the Rochester, Minnesota area?

Dr. Truax: “Yes, We have patients from many areas in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida. I attended graduate school with a gentleman who later flew his kids up from Miami because he was told that both of his children needed to have permanent first pre molars removed. We treated them without removal of permanent teeth except for the 3rd molars. As adults they both have handsome faces, stable jaw relationships and good alignment of teeth and occlusion."

CEOCFOinterviews: Please tell us about your STARS product.

Dr. Truax: “Our STARS product is like Invisalign™,”

CEOCFOinterviews: When you say that your Stars‘ product is like Invisalign™, does that mean that you invented a product to copy Invisalign™?

Dr. Truax: “No! STARS‘(Serial Truax Appliance Raines System) was trademarked by Dr. Michael Raines in 1986. We treated patients with minor crowding with our
Tru-Tain retainer plastic while he was treating major orthodontic problems including extraction of permanent teeth. He reset casts of teeth in his laboratory and vacuumed Tru-Tain plastic over reset teeth.  These plastic retainers had to be bit down on to seat the plastic material that caused the teeth to move. Plastic that had been vacuumed over casts of teeth would not stay in place until I developed crown contours (pat) to place on teeth to hold the plastic in place."

CEOCFOinterviews: Please tell us about the patents that you hold on your Truax Correctors removable functional appliances and your STARS‘ appliances.

Dr. Truax: “I developed the crown contours (pat) and the method of vacuuming plastic over the crown contours on casts of teeth (pat.).  Invisalign ‘ vacuums plastic over casts of teeth that has plastic placed on teeth to hold retainer plastic in place, which is the same method as our patents # 5,l76,5l7 and #5,242,304 without permission or a license to use them. This is the first appliance patented where you can put it in by snapping it securely in place without using wire clasps."

CEOCFOinterviews: So they ignored your patent and brought a product to the market?

Dr. Truax: “Oh yes! When it first came out, we wrote them a letter and told them that they may be infringing on our patents. We received a letter back mentioning that we should have our legal department check with their legal department, which is how we started talking to three different law firms and really got no where."

CEOCFOinterviews: How was it that Invisalign™ was able to bring the product to the masses before you?

Dr. Praska: “They had millions of dollars in venture capital which was used to give free clinical seminars to show dentists what can be done without placing braces. They also have advertised nationally on TV. ”

Dr. Truax: “Yes, They had millions in venture capital.”

CEOCFOinterviews: It is the same thing but they managed to get the capital funding.

Dr. Truax: “Yes, they are able to move teeth with the use of computers rather than laboratory repositioning teeth. We would cut the teeth, from the stone model and move the teeth manually. They can go from A-Z much faster because of the computer. The computer part was a fabulous idea. However their plastic trays to move teeth would not stay in place unless plastic was placed on the surface of teeth (our patented crown contours and vacuuming method)."

CEOCFOinterviews: There are many people in the world that have under-bites and over-bites but never get it taken care of, even some major entertainers. Would you say that this is a large market?

Dr. Truax: “It is a huge market."

CEOCFOinterviews: If you could get the dental community to accept your Truax Corrector appliances, would future revenues then be generated through the sale of the appliances to the dental community?

Dr. Truax: “Yes, and we have the laboratory and have other laboratories to make the appliances, so dentists would order their Truax Correctors direct from the laboratory.”

CEOCFOinterviews: What would dentists who choose to offer Truax Correctors to their patients be required to do relating to patients care?

Dr. Truax: “Seminars to inform them what can be done with removable functional appliances. The dentist would have to create casts of teeth and take a proper construction bite and to adjust the appliances. At their 4-8 week check-ups the dentists may have to do some acrylic adjustments, general adjusting and observation.”

CEOCFOinterviews: Changes come about slowly but all it takes is someone who wants to make that change to make it happen.

Dr. Truax: “Yes, and we are now looking for a partner or venture capitalists that understands marketing!”

CEOCFOinterviews: The key is generally how much business there is for a particular specialty or product.

Dr. Truax: “There would be a lot of business! If people knew their problem could be corrected with our esthetic appliances and that surgery is seldom necessary, or if the dentists would realize that this is going to help them build their practice, they would want to learn how to do it. The key is getting the word out there, because our Truax Corrector appliances are a product that would greatly benefit the dentist by helping build their practice and the patient by offering an alternative to surgery.”

CEOCFOinterviews: Can you give us an example of one business model that you have explored to increase awareness and increase revenues?

Dr. Truax: “One model to increase business and create more awareness is to place ads on television and in magazines to inform the public of a better way to correct these problems."

CEOCFOinterviews: Invisalign™ only has one product they were offering is that correct?

Dr. Truax: “Yes, moving teeth.”

CEOCFOinterviews: You have two products, is that correct?

Dr. Truax: “Yes, our STARS‘ that would compete with Invisalign™ for moving teeth and our Truax Correctors for changing jaw relationship to correct under-bites, over-bites and TMD - we would have competition with other functional appliances, but their changes take longer and may not produce the same amount of skeletal changes or the other alterative is surgery. The reason we call it TC II is because when the lower jaw is back this is called a skeletal class II, we can correct that and TC III is when the upper jaw is back or a skeletal class III. The TC III is the only appliance that can correct large skeletal Class III malocclusions in a reasonable amount of time.”

CEOCFOinterviews: How many people have gone through your clinic since you opened it?

Dr. Truax: “Thousands!”

Dr. Praska: “And many of these people were told they had to have jaw or joint surgery. Many patients, happy with the results come in after they have completed our procedure and say, “gee, that was me and look at me now.”

CEOCFOinterviews: In closing, what would you like to say to individuals in the dental community who are looking at your story?

Dr. Truax: “Treat your patients as you would treat your own family. Would you recommend jaw surgery on your own son or daughter knowing that it could result in either temporary or permanent paraesthesia (numbness), if you knew that there is a removable functional appliance that could change jaw and joint relationship without the undesired results that may occur with surgery? Well that is what we are offering you with our Truax Corrector Appliances."

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