Digesting Digital Dentistry

Digesting Digital Dentistry
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Before my dental career, I was a Psychology student at Cal State Fullerton. A professor shared a brief video experience that completely changed my perception of dental offices. In this video, the doctor used a wand-like camera to take 1000's of images recreating the 3-dimensional structure of a patient's mouth. Most of my friends and family associated the dentist office with torture devices and odd smelling chemicals, yet this was technology beyond anything I had imagined possible… I will never forget this experience and I wasn’t even in the chair.

In this article we cover one key aspect of dentistry – The Patient Experience.

The dental landscape is rapidly changing. Insurance continues to apply downward pressure. Patient attention spans reduce loyalty to providers while expectations increase. Clinicians are faced with the challenge of increasing production and managing overhead while maintaining quality of care. The list continues. I believe 10 years from now, successful dental practices will have fully integrated digital workflows, increasing efficiency, reducing margins for error, and expanding procedure capabilities.

Most importantly, this technology is now incredibly simple and the barrier to entry is lower than ever before.

Scan Only vs Full Digital Workflow

Which CAD/CAM Path is best?

When exploring digital dentistry understand the two main digital workflows…

Option 1 "Scan Only": Scanning dentition and sending scans to the dental lab for restoration fabrication.

"Scan Only" is a very simple and economic start to exploring digital dentistry. This option delivers a unique patient experience eliminating the uncomfortable gagging and choking caused by impression materials. Dental labs typically offer discounted rates when accepting digital scans since they eliminate the need for driver pickup and model stone pour ups. Unfortunately, return on investment (ROI) when incorporating digital scanners is minimal or potentially non-existent.

Option 2 "Full Digital Workflow": Scanning dentition and sending scans to the in house mill or 3D printer for final product fabrication while the patient remains in the dental practice.

"Full Digital Workflow" allows doctors to eliminate costly multi-visit dentistry, achieving final products (i.e. crowns, bridges, implants, nightguards, etc.) in a single visit. Dentists can successfully dismiss patients within 2 hours of of the initial visit while maintaining quality dentistry and aesthetics.  

How can we apply these two options?

Consider these common practice goals below...

  1. Patient Experience
  2. Save Time
  3. Overhead Reduction
  4. Increase Production
  5. Expand Procedures
  6. Control Product Quality

If anything past goal 2 sounds appealing, that might be a sign to consider a "Full Digital Workflow." Why? Scanning, milling, and 3D printing in office allows doctors to acheive all six goals.

Evaluating The Top 4

With CAD/CAM options and practice goals in mind, let's evaluate the top four digital impression manufacturers in the dental industry:

Primescan Intraoral Scanner and Primemill

Dentsply Sirona (Primescan) - A highly robust scanner with speed, accuracy, and artificial intelligence to make scanning easy. The only FDA approved option to accommodate digital 3D printed dentures. The best workflow integration for milling crown and bridge restorations in office. Integrates seamlessly with SureSmile clear aligners and the PrimePrint 3D printer. For short video demo from Dentsply Sirona click here.

3Shape Trios Hardware and Applications

3Shape Trios - A fast and accurate scanner with many unique applications such as caries detection, gingival recession tracking, ortho features, Smile Design, and before & after simulations. A strong "Scan Only" option with the ability to integrate with 3rd party milling units and 3D printers. For video demo by Travis Schlieder click here.  

Medit Intraoral Scanner and Scans

Medit - A basic and economic scanner that is great for replacing impression material. Primarily used in the "Scan Only" path and not ideal for the "Full Digital Workflow."

iTero Hardware and Scan

iTero - The only option for Invisalign branded treatment. Ability to integrate into 3rd party milling units and 3D printers. Not as robust compared to other scanner options for restorative applications.

Depending on practice goals each scanner has areas of exceptional performance. In my opinion, Primescan is best for the "Full Digital Workflow," 3Shape is best for "Scan Only" path with options for future integrations, Medit is decent for "Scan Only" with little/no ambitions to expand functions, and iTero is best for Invisalign branded clear aligner cases. I commonly see doctors opt into the "Scan Only" route discovering that they would like to explore the "Full Digital Workflow" 6 months after their purchase. I highly recommend exploring and understanding the "Full Digital Workflow" before ruling it out. It can be incredibly profitable and fairly automatic if properly executed.

Dental Digital Impression Scan Comparison

I encourage determining the goals of the practice and exploring CAD/CAM workflows in greater detail. The best option is the one that accomplishes the most goals. Please consider reaching out via text/call/email (below). There are many configurations, features, and applications that cannot be condensed into this article.

Additionally, DS World 2022 "the Ultimate Experience in Digital Dentistry" will be in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 15-17. This is a premium event for education and entertainment, including CAD/CAM and technology integration discussions. Feel free to contact me below by email or text for VIP tickets and/or pricing on these technologies. Register here DS World 2022.

Consider attending local study clubs and learning opportunities. In Southern CA, have many CAD/CAM and technology related events available on the Events Page. Stay informed by subscribing to The Dental Rocket and consider sharing with friends! Thanks!

Ben Holguin
Call/Text: 714-560-3472
Email: contact@thedentalrocket.com