It’s always good to talk, but sometimes things can get lost in translation between technician and clinician in the daily flow of cases back and forth. Terry Patuzzo discusses increased adoption of intraoral scanners, and how CAD technology is now making it easier for practices and laboratories to collaborate – with excellent results.

The relationship between clinician and technician has always been a crucial factor in the success of restorative treatment. Each is heavily reliant on the other to do their jobs efficiently. If communication breaks down, the whole process is likely to do the same and the outcome is compromised.

In modern dentistry, a number of developments have made the need for effective practice-lab communication even more critical. Recent innovations in the materials and techniques available for use in restorations, and changes in the syllabuses taught in UK dental schools has widened the knowledge gap between clinicians and technicians as to what is possible. The well-documented increase in patient expectations of a smoother process, a more comfortable experience and highly aesthetic results is forcing the profession to look for other ways to reduce errors and improve three-way communication between the triumvirate of patient, dentist and technician.

For many, digital dentistry has provided this solution, in the form of digital collaboration between in-practice digital imaging technology and digital design software in the lab.

Open and flexible

A laboratory that invests in computer-aided design (CAD) software opens up a world of possibilities for its business. The majority of scanners now save their files in an ‘open .stl’ format, which means they can be imported into any CAD software, making the investment and upskilling in this area hugely worthwhile for the lab and enabling it to collaborate with any customer who wants to submit digital impressions.

Online validation assumes nothing

Collaboration and validation of the file can begin immediately on receipt, even while the patient is still in the chair, empowering the technician to review the scans, data and notes and confirm that no detail is missing and the prescription is clear.

Confident in the accuracy of the scan data received, the technician can then accept the case and proceed, according to their preferred workflow. Clinician and technician can choose the method of communication that suits them – by remote viewing call, Webex, iChat, email or even an old-fashioned phonecall! Both parties have same-time access to the high-resolution 3D images, which deliver unprecedented levels of detail, almost as if the patient is in the room.

Greater opportunities for exceptional dentistry

The opportunity for collaboration afforded by a digital workflow brings the clinician-technician partnership huge potential for further optimisation of dental treatment. When a clinician and technician can truly work in concert, a free exchange of ideas is enabled and the patient will benefit from a ‘team approach’ to treatment that might not have arisen without it.

Lack of communication can lead to assumptions and compromise, which in turn stunts creativity and results in lower standards of care – which for the technician means more remakes and a less profitable business. It therefore makes sound business sense for a lab to find ways of improving communication with their clinicians.


To register for an Explore Cerec Omnicam session at your laboratory, and introduce your clinicians to the digital workflow please visit explorecerec.co.uk or call 01932 837 318 quoting ‘Explorecerec’.

To find out more about the extensive range of digital solutions, materials and equipment, please visit dentsplysirona.com.

You can also access a range of education resources, video tutorials, courses and CPD webinars at dentsplysirona.com/ukeducation.

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