Win the Isolation Battle with Isolite!

More and more we’re all doing adhesive composite restorations.  And, we know that any sort of moisture contamination spells disaster.  So, between you and your assistant, you’ve got only four arms and hands to prep and restore teeth while simultaneously retracting both the tongue and cheek, and trying to keep the field clear.  All the while you’re eyeballing that saliva-tsunami threatening to swamp your good work.  So, you’re yelling (not really yelling) at your assistant who you wish had four arms of her own.  “Suuuuuctiooooooooonnnn!”

OK, we all know about rubber dam(n).  So why aren’t we all using them?  Is it because we don’t know any better?  No, of course not.  Is it because they don’t work?  Of course, they do.  But, they are tedious.  Ultimately, most dentists are simply not going to use them routinely or consistently.

There is an answer that, in some ways, is even better than rubber dam.  It’s called the Isolite.  It took me a while to catch on to this amazing device, even though I heard a lot about it on Dentaltown.  But, I finally decided to try it and bought one.  I very quickly bought another.

What is the Isolite?  It’s a device that hooks up to your high-speed suction.  It has a disposable silicone attachment that combines a bite-block with a cheek and tongue retractor.  The Isolite provides suction, retraction, a bite-block, and has a built-in LED light (adjustable for five-levels of brightness, including a setting that won’t polymerize your composites).

Isolite connected to high-speed evacuation.

Isolite positioned for work on patient’s right sie (upper or lower). Integral bite block is on patient’s left side.

The suction works so well, your assistant will not really need to use her suction to keep the field clear.  Her hands will be freed up to keep your mirror clear and hand you instruments.

But, here’s the kicker that I didn’t anticipate.  In a nutshell, the Isolite cuts my operative time by about 1/3!  No kidding.  And, here’s why:  In the traditional dentist-assistant work flow, it’s often stop-and-go.  You prep a little.  Assistant clears the field with air/water syringe and suction.  You prep a little more.  Rinse and repeat.  Stop-and-go.


It was difficult to get my camera to expose the image well while capturing how brightly lit the mouth is with the Isolite. When I say “lit up like a sports arena,” I’m not kidding.

Prepping with the Isolite is LINEAR.  You don’t stop because the field is CONTINUOUSLY cleared by the integrated suction.  You can always see what you’re doing.  That’s not true with a rubber dam, which doesn’t have suction built into it.  Next thing you know…. you’re done prepping!  This was a surprise benefit.

Likewise with the restorative phase of a typical operative appointment, it just goes so smoothly.  No fear of the saliva-tsunami.  No “yelling” at your assistant to catch that saliva before it swamps your pristinely hybridized prep.  You can RELAX.  If you’re doing multiple restorations, you can “assembly-line” the etch, then the bonding, then the increments of composite.  All of this… in a very relaxed environment.

The first time I used it, when we were done, my assistant and I looked at each other in amazement.  We both noticed that things went MUCH more quickly.  So, we started paying attention to the time, and consistently our “time in mouth” was reduced by about a third.  That’s significant, folks!  Besides assuring quality results, you’re saving a lot of time.  And, you know what they say about time.  It’s money!

A majority of my patients have responded very favorably to the Isolite.  “I like that thing!”  It keeps the amalgam crud (that you’re removing) from going down the patient’s throat.  It keeps the patient from “drowning.”  It holds the patient’s mouth open, so they don’t get tired.  It’s a win-win all the way around.

This is a close-up that demonstrates how the Isolite simultaneously retracts the tongue and the cheek. You may be able to see the little holes that feed into the suction.

As I’ve said before, I love things that don’t require a bank loan to get into AND give me an immediate return on investment.  The Isolite falls squarely into this category.  A complete Isolite system for one operatory is priced at $1695.  The disposable mouthpieces work out to $2.50 each.  Isolite Systems also offers an automatic shipment program that can reduce your disposables costs.

Isolite Systems also offers the Isodry.  It’s the same thing but without the built-in light.  The cost is significantly less at $795.  I work with magnification and a headlight.  So, theoretically, I don’t “need” the built-in light.  But, I’m still glad I got the lighted version and recommend it.  It lights up the whole mouth, and there are times I look away (headlight aimed somewhere else), but my assistant benefits by being able to see the mouth lit up like a sports arena.

The ROI from the Isolite system is realized in two ways.  The first is in time-savings.  You can get more done in less time.  That’s an easy financial equation to work out.  The second is being able to perform adhesive dentistry in a very relaxed state.  This is HUGE when you experience it.  The Isolite is that four-armed assistant you always dreamed about!

Added July 8, 2012:  Some dentists have asked me how I introduce the Isolite to patients in order to make it a positive experience.  I always emphasize the patient’s BENEFITS:

OK, Ralph…. we’re going to do things a bit differently today.  I’ve got a new technology that will make your treatment more comfortable AND we’ll be done more QUICKLY.

What this gadget does is help you keep your mouth open without your jaw getting tired.  It also keeps all the yucky stuff from going down your throat.  And, it holds your tongue and cheeks out of the way, so you won’t have to worry about that, either.

As you can see, this disposable medical silicone mouthpiece is very flexible.  What it does is cradle and surround the tooth I’m working on (I fold the mouthpiece around my extended index finger) and it lights your mouth up like a hockey arena (I hit the button turning the light on).

Now… it will feel a little awkward when I first put it in.  But, once it’s in place, I think you’ll find it VERY comfortable and comfortING.

OK… here we go!

The Dental Warrior salutes the Isolite!  Here’s a video of the Isolite in use:

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35 Responses to Win the Isolation Battle with Isolite!

  1. The Dental Warrior says:

    Oh… By the way… Patients overwhelming LIKE the Isolite. They love how “that crud doesn’t go down my throat.”

  2. DavidMee says:

    Mike, does the part that holds the cheek prevent you using it for the most posterior tooth?

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      Hi David,

      Nope. Not at all. It makes it easier to work on even the most posterior tooth.

    • Dr Anita Rama Kahar from India, Maharashtra State, Nagpur city says:

      Goodafternoon sir,
      I have gone through this article which is very nice & helpful for the dentist.
      Sir I am interested in presenting a paper on this Isolite system in IDC 2012 in Feb. so, will you please send the detail about Isolite system which will help me for making presentation more informable.

  3. Mike,
    I absolutely agree. My assistant and I were pleasantly surprised the first time we used it. Cuts treatment time by about 1/3. Reduces stress. Assistant doesn’t need to suction and is freed up to help in other ways. Vast majority of patients love it. Isolite is a winner, and I highly recommend it.
    Dr. Mike Milligan

  4. Bruce Hagelthorn says:

    Ya know, I always thought $1695 for a lighted high volume suction with a bite block was a lot of money. But when you consider the stress reduction and savings in time, well, it’s a no-brainer.
    Dr. Bruce Hagelthorn

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      I agree, Bruce. I was still a bit skeptical when I bought one. But, those concerns were immediately put to rest when I used it the first time. I’ll also say that the Isolite is very well made. I’ve been told there are some cheaper knock-offs. But, in my 47 years of life, I’ve never found satisfaction in cheap knock-offs of anything. 🙂

      • Mark Frias says:

        Mike, I generally agree with that statement. Most knock-offs suck, but I think the product I designed, the Kona Adapter, is one of those exceptions. In some aspects the Kona Adapter is better than the IsoDry and in other aspects the IsoDry is better than the Kona Adapter. IMO, both products are very good. There is a second IsoDry knock off on the market (I’ve used it) and it has some major flaws. I would not recommend it. If you would be interested in reviewing my product I would be happy to send you one.

        • The Dental Warrior says:

          Hi Mark,

          Of course, I was generalizing about knock-offs. And, generally, it’s true that knock-offs are not the same as the original. Generally. And, of course, there may be exceptions to that rule. I’m really happy with my Isolite and of all the things I’ve spent money on in my practice, it ranks among the best values.

          Even though I use a headlight, I find the Isolite’s light helpful. I’ve had mine (two of them) for a year now, and no problems.

          Correct me if I’m wrong… But, to get the disposable mouthpieces (for your device), you have to already be an Isolite customer, right?

          • Mark Frias says:

            Yes, that is my understanding. My target customer for this product is a current or potential Isolite / IsoDry owner. Some want to equip every room, but can’t afford it, or don’t want to spend the money. Some have problems with their current system and don’t want to replace it or repair it. I have one customer who’s IsoDry got seriously crushed somehow. I’ve had quite a few dentists buy Kona Adapters for their hygienists, so they can use the Isolite mouthpieces in their rooms.

  5. The Dental Warrior says:

    Another advantage of the Isolite vs. rubber dam is that the Isolite can be placed, removed, and placed again quite easily. Rubber dam… not so easy to do that.

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  8. Lisa Rager says:

    Thanks for sharing Mike, Is it ok withyou if I share your blog on my wall?

  9. ALexandre Blackburn says:

    Hi, i am interested by the isolite systems. But i dont know why, they do not sell to Canada and outside USA. Someone know a trick to bring it to Canada ?


    • The Dental Warrior says:

      Hi Alexandre!

      I just forwarded your message to my contact at Isolite. Her name is Maureen. She told me she’d be following up with you. 🙂


  10. tsarouchas dimitris says:

    Hi, i am also intersting about isolite system, i am from Greece and i can not find it in Europe, i send an email at isolitesystems but still i don’t have any answer. does anyone knows if i can buy it in Europe or from USA? Regards, Dimitris

    • ALexandre Blackburn says:

      I just found how to buy Isolite outside USA.

      1. Have it shipped to a friend in the USA who ships it to you (the company cannot legally ship to Canada- but a friend can)
      2. Go to a meeting in the USA and have them ship it to the meeting and bring it back and perhaps you might forget that you bought it in the USA : > )

    • Petyo Georgiev says:

      Hello. Thank you for the nice review of the system. I have been considering getting one for some time; I was just wondering if somebody got any luck in getting it from outside the USA.
      Thank you.

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  14. Mary says:

    I am a patient. My dentist while growing up used cotton. Then as an adult I saw a new dentist who needed to replace old mercury fillings. She put in a dental dam and I had a full blown massive panic attack. She had to remove the thing and work with cotton. So I see a new dentist and she says we can try isolite. It is a lot better though I still get panic symptoms with it. However I can raise my hand and she can take it out so I can take a break. I don’t like how the back of my throat feels so dry with it.

    I came up with a good idea I’m trying. I had the dentist give me the disposable mouthpiece to practice and desensitize myself with. I’m practicing having it my mouth for a few minutes a few times a day until my next appointment. I know desensitization is part of helping phobias so I’m hoping this will help. If you are a dentist and have a patient like me this is something you might try.

  15. Ronn says:

    Isolite disposable mouthpiece used to be available in Canada but has recently been classified a “stand alone medical device” and now needs to go through “department approvals”. You cannot purchase the mouthpiece now in Canada although you could do it in June. What a joke.

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      Yeah, that sucks for Canadian dentists, especially those who have the Isolite system already installed. Hopefully, that will get resolved quickly.

  16. Isolite looks like a sure thing but i’m wondering has anything else come along that may be considered better since then?

  17. Stephen Sims says:

    Izolation is also a great system. Less expensive, than Isolite. (No light, tho)

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  19. Chris says:

    Hi! Isolite seems to work very well. It sure is a great product for adhesive dentistry. But I wonder if I could use it for root canal treatments too. The only problem might be taking the radiograph during the treatment. What do you think about it? Could the radiograph be taken while Isolite still is in the patient’s mouth? Happy Holidays!

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      I will admit to having done it – once. I don’t usually take WL films, since I use an Apex Locator, which is balls-on accurate. But, the only time I used the Isolite for endo was in a situation where the rubber dam clamp just wasn’t working due to the tooth being broken down.

      That said… I would recommend ALWAYS using rubber dam whenever possible. Consider the legal implications. And, consider referring if necessary.

      With a severely broken down tooth that won’t support a rubber dam clamp, consider building the tooth up and then completing the RCT, as I did in this case.

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