In-Kind Gift from Zyris Helps School Provide Treatment

On behalf of Zyris Inc. and in honor of David M. Bonner, DDS Class of 1980, the company’s Dental Education Partnership Program delivered state-of-the-art isolation for the care and treatment of patients at the School of Dentistry’s Center for Oral Health Care & Research. The in-kind gift is valued at $443,000.

By Catherine Duncan

Thanks in part to a very timely gift from Zyris, Inc.’s Dental Education Partnership Program (DEPP), the School of Dentistry was able to take advantage of Zyris’ aerosol isolation system to assist in fully opening the school’s clinical practices during the COVID-19 pandemic while many other academic centers remained closed or opened on a limited basis.

On behalf of Zyris Inc. and in honor of David M. Bonner, DDS Class of 1980, in 2020 the DEPP delivered state-of-the-art aerosol isolation technology for the care and treatment of patients at the school’s Center for Oral Health Care & Research. Zyris donated 1,090 Isovac dental adapters and accessories. At a value of $443,000, this in-kind gift assured access for all students, residents and faculty on each of the 421 chairs in the clinics and 124 stations in the clinical simulation laboratories.

Zyris Inc.’s Isovac system offers self-contained suction during dental procedures.

Gary Guest, DDS, associate dean for patient care, said the school’s dental practice was completely shut down for routine care on March 22, 2020, by the Governor’s Executive Order. “We went from treating thousands of patients a day to only being able to provide emergency care, which amounted to a handful of patients a day,” he said.

He said the dental school benefitted from the leadership of William L. Henrich, MD, MACP, president of UT Health San Antonio, who assembled a task force that met daily. “We all worked together on the task force. We were able to learn from the Long School of Medicine’s medical practice as it navigated the shortage of personal protective equipment and patient care strategies for COVID mitigation. The university’s infectious disease experts, especially Dr. Jason Bowling, helped guide us. And we were fortunate to receive assistance from the Environmental Health and Safety Department.”

Dr. Guest said that during this time, the School of Dentistry was trying to figure out how to significantly reduce the contaminates emitted by aerosols in the air during dental procedures. “When working in the mouth, you try to mitigate aerosol. The COVID-19 pandemic made this even more imperative. We needed to be able to protect our students, faculty and staff while they provided care to our patients.”

The Isovac system offers self-contained suction during dental procedures, he said. “This new adapter is really simple to break apart so it can be easily sterilized. The suction can be put in different parts of the mouth. The mouthpieces come in different sizes and are one-time use. It has been key to our aerosol control,” Dr. Guest added. “It really meets today’s needs for dentistry. It came at the right time at the right place.”

Eric Day, the dental school’s senior director of practice operations, said the gift from Zyris allows the dental practice to reduce the provider’s exposure to aerosols, which has become even more critical during the pandemic.

“This technology enhanced our mitigation strategy to the point that we were able to accelerate our return to operation. I believe we were one of the first schools in the country to resume standard patient care,” he said. “Overall, this is such a generous gift, and it significantly enhanced our ability to go back to treating patients during the pandemic.”

Rolando Mia, vice president of customer success for Zyris, said the company was founded in 2001 by Thomas R. Hirsch, DDS, a practicing dentist; his brother, James Hirsch, an industrial designer, and Sandra Hirsch, CPA, who serves as CEO and president. The three were passionate about revolutionizing the industry by creating functional, efficient solutions to dental isolation, Mia explained.

Zyris’ product line includes two isolation systems and a dental isolation adapter. The company’s leaders decided to create the Zyris DEPP to help dental schools who were struggling to acquire the system for their clinical practices, he said.

“The Isovac is absolutely remarkable at eliminating aerosols. For dental schools, it allows providers and students to concentrate on learning and performing the procedures,” Mia said. “The system is especially effective in allowing the patient to relax during the procedure. They don’t have to worry about fluid or debris going down their throat. The system evacuates that for them.”

The in-kind gift from the Santa Barbara, California, based company also includes training the new dental students to use the system. In addition, when students graduate from dental school, they can bridge the use of Isovac into their new dental practice or residency. Each graduate is eligible to receive a three-pack of Isovac dental adapters ($895 retail value) or the same value off an upgraded Isolite system.

Mia said the gift was presented in honor of Dr. Bonner, who introduced the School of Dentistry to Zyris. “Dr. Bonner has always been an advocate for the school. When I met him, Dr. Bonner said he knew the dental school could really benefit from this system. Dr. Bonner made the introductions that made this gift happen. We are so glad he did,” he added.

To learn more about the Zyris DEPP program, visit:

If you are interested in making a gift contribution or gift in kind, please contact Amanda Liccione, director of development for the School of Dentistry, at (210) 567-6536 or at

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In the 2021 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.

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