Bien Air Gift Advancing Education, Patient Care

In August 2020, Poornima “Nima” Mensinkai, Ph.D., assistant professor/clinical of comprehensive dentistry, discusses the new Bien Air handpieces distributed to first-year students.

By Catherine Duncan

The generosity of a Swiss-based company is advancing clinical education for UT Health San Antonio’s School of Dentistry students and improving the quality of care provided to the school’s patients at the Center for Oral Health Care and Research.

Kay H. Malone, D.D.S., FAGD, director of admissions and special programs, visits with a first-year student who received her set of Bien Air handpieces which she will learn how to use in the simulation lab.

Bien Air Dental USA has donated and installed more than 500 control panels and electric power sources in the clinics and simulation labs at the School of Dentistry. Provided through the company’s David Mosimann Foundation, the philanthropic gift is valued at $1.6 million.

Arthur Mateen, Bien Air Dental subsidiary manager, and Marla Mattinson, the company’s director of academic affairs, partnered with Eric Day, the school’s senior director of practice operations, and Amanda Liccione, director of development, to coordinate the gift acceptance and installation process.

“We are a private business so we were able to make the decision to take the path of investing in the future of students in U.S. dental schools,” Mateen explained. “We know the U.S. has great dental education, but technology at schools has fallen behind.”
Mattinson said that when Bien Air Dental began the program, many dental schools were still teaching primarily with air-driven equipment. “Converting a school from air to electrics is very costly,” she said. “Through the David Mosimann Foundation program, we have been able to convert schools and enable them to train and teach their students using the cutting-edge technology of electrics,” Mattinson added. Day said the School of Dentistry wanted to add the electric-powered equipment, but the cost of conversion was one of the main barriers.

“Bien Air is delighted to be working with the School of Dentistry,” Mattinson said. “We know it is one of the best schools in the country. Now, the school can teach the dentists of the future with all of the best available technology.”

In 1959, Mosimann, a precision mechanic, founded Bien Air in his garage in the town of Bienne, Switzerland, after speaking with a dentist friend who expressed frustration about his rotary instruments. He then began producing the first handpieces based on his expertise in micromechanics. Since then, Bien Air has grown to be the world’s largest maker of precision electric handpieces and motor systems with digital control panels.

Mateen said electric handpieces have many advantages in addition to their precision and power. “The advanced technology is very quiet which is calming to patients and doesn’t harm dentists’ hearing, has little aerosolizing which is preferred in light of COVID-19, offers anti-retraction so there is no fluid going back into the handpiece, and provides precision because of the control panel used to set RPMs (revolutions per minute),” he said.

Bien Air Dental USA donated and installed control panels and electric power sources in the School of Dentistry’s clinics and simulation labs. The Class of 2024 will be the first class to learn and use the Bien Air equipment all four years.

Day said that earlier this year Bien Air equipped all clinic chairs to be able to use electric handpieces. “Bien Air came in and installed the control panel and the power source at each chair. They also installed this equipment at the simulation center and will do so at our Laredo clinic,” Day explained.

Student kits were distributed to second-year students in July and to first-year students in August. “These students will use their Bien Air handpieces in the simulation lab this school year. When the students begin their third year, they will then use these handpieces for patient care at the Center for Oral Health Care and Research,” he explained. The Class of 2024 is the first group of students to learn and utilize the Bien Air equipment all four years.

When the students graduate, they can send their set to Bien Air headquarters to be inspected and serviced. “They will start working professionally with the handpieces they have been using throughout dental school.”

Day said the gift from Bien Air will benefit the recruitment of new students. “We now can say they will be trained on some of the most advanced equipment available in the dental industry.”

Mateen said students apply to multiple schools, and they want to learn at a school with electric handpieces. “We see prospective students communicating on social media, and they want to learn where there is digital dentistry.” In addition, Mateen said each student’s motor has an interface with an iPad so faculty can review their progress and then work with them to improve their clinical skills.

Dean Peter M. Loomer, B.Sc., D.D.S., Ph.D., MRCD(C), FACD, said he is deeply appreciative of Bien Air Dental USA’s gift of technology to the school. “It is a great asset to our students, faculty and patients. We teach the latest techniques in a state-of-the art facility. Everyone wins.”

If you know of a company or foundation interested in helping the School of Dentistry fulfill its missions of education, research, patient care and community service, please contact Amanda Liccione, director of development, at 210-567-6536 or

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In the 2020 issue of Salute

Salute is the official magazine for the alumni and friends of the School of Dentistry at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Read and share inspiring stories highlighting our dental alumni, faculty and students who are revolutionizing education, research, patient care and critical services in the communities they serve.

View the 2020 issue

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