“By training, I am an engineer. From a precision perspective, the standard impression process is a nightmare: You generate a copy of a copy of the original, and then a technician creates a copy.” Daniel Kaiserauer is the director of CS Solutions, Carestream’s division in charge of dental CAD/CAM restoration and a strong believer in digital solutions.
A big trend in the medical world, and especially in dentistry, digital workflows are making inroads: “We believe 15% of dentists are using digital impressions. At the same time, more and more laboratories have invested in CAD/CAM tools,” he adds.
We believe 15% of dentists are using digital impressions
As a consequence, the remaining 85% is seen as a huge opportunity for the industry. In these times of “patient involvement,” easing the patient’s experience is seen as a key selling point: Digital dental workflows rely on intraoral scanners being able to map a mouth with low to no discomfort for patients.
One Visit, 90 Minutes
Not only is patient’s experience improved but it also requires less time spent in the dental office to the point that Dentsply Sirona is now talking about “90-minute single-visit dentistry.” “Thanks to our unique Biogeneric algorithm, we can create in our CEREC software a digital natural imitation of what the tooth looks like. Professionals can then adjust this proposal if they want and send it to the in-house milling unit” explains Holger Emmert, director of marketing CEREC at Dentsply Sirona.
Even though 3D printing is seen as the next big thing in the dental industry, when it comes to restoration, dental digital workflows end up on a milling machine, not a 3D printer, able currently to manufacture only 3D models.
Scans have also improved the recent years. “In 2012, a major milestone was that we introduced the CEREC Omnicam which allowed scanning in color and without powder coating, which was mandatory before. With our latest software, we can now offer even more: photo realistic scans and the possibility to use the CEREC Omnicam to detect the right tooth shade”, adds Emmert.
Carestream has been working on an Intelligent Matching System (IMS) for its CS 3600 scanner: It allows users to start scanning wherever they want in the teeth arch; if the scan is interrupted, the professional can continue from any position, IMS will be able to fill the missing information.
In terms of learning curve, Sirona claims a two day training done by clinicians is sufficient to master the whole workflow quite quickly: “If you do 6-7 cases per month, after a few months you should be able to do it as a routine,” explains Holger Emmert. Or, if digitalization is only about using a digital intraoral scanner (without using the full digital workflow), a few hours should be enough to manipulate a tool designed to be easy to use. That way, dentists can easily delegate.
Requiring less time with a dentist is a way for these companies to overcome one of the main hurdles of digital dentistry: cost. A Carestream CS 3600 costs around $44,000 U.S., which makes it an investment to be closely considered.
Dentists tend to differentiate in a kind of competition
“Dentists tend to differentiate in a kind of competition,” continues Daniel Kaiserauer “No patient wants a spoon in their mouth.” The expectation here is that, once a patient has been confronted with a digital intraoral scanner, he or she won’t ever want to get back to the standard impression process.
Both providers insist on an obvious but not necessarily though-of benefit of going digital, which is communication. “Digital impression streamlines the communication between the dentist and the laboratory. And at the same time, it makes it easy to show a 3D scan to a patient,” adds Kaiseraeur.
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