You’ve seen the evidence of the increased predictability a digital impression can bring to restorative dentistry. Terry Patuzzo asks how laboratories can convince clinicians of the benefits of investing in this technology.
If your lab is digitally-enabled and you are enjoying the benefits of increased predictability, faster turnaround times and streamlining efficiencies that a digital workflow brings, the chances are that you will be keen to extend these improvements into other areas of your workflow, which still remain analogue. With careful financial forecasting and a well-planned transfer period, the further adoption of digital technology within your own laboratory is relatively easy to achieve. But what happens when there are third-party partners who need to be persuaded to accompany you on your journey to becoming truly digital?
Although it can be nice to dream, dental laboratories do not exist in a vacuum. Being once-removed from the patient, your workflow is somewhat dictated by the dental practices that make up your client-base, so if the majority of impressions arriving in the laboratory are physical models, the start of your workflow needs to be analogue, regardless of your preferred methods of working.
If you dream of a model-free, digital workflow with all the advantages this would bring to your business, here are a few pointers you could give to your clinicians about the many advantages of investing in an intraoral scanner.
Accurate scans lead to greater predictability and consistency
The ultimate aim of any dental laboratory is to create accurate, high-quality, durable restorations, which fit the patient perfectly first time. Every technician knows that consistently predictable results can only come from consistently accurate oral impressions and the increasingly sophisticated technology of intraoral scanners makes this far more achievable.
This standalone equipment makes it easy to capture all areas of the dentition and alerts the clinician to any missed areas, which can then be rescanned and ‘stitched in’ to complete the scan. The margin for error is decreased as the risk of elastic or thermal deformation of conventional impressions is eliminated and the number of steps required in the laboratory is also reduced.
Immediate evaluation and 360° detail
The accuracy and viability of a digital impression can be assessed by the clinician immediately after capture, while the patient is still in the chair, which means that any errors or omissions can be corrected there and then. This not only minimises expensive chair-time and patient inconvenience, it also puts more control in the hands of the clinician.
Full colour, 3D, high-resolution images that enable a complete 360° view and the opportunity to zoom in for more detailed investigation gives much more visibility of the clinical situation.
Faster, more efficient workflows and communication
Educating clinicians so they appreciate the advantages of intraoral scanning and the elimination of physical models is now an important role for laboratory owners and their technical team and the benefits are clear:
- Intraoral scans can be taken in minutes with very little fuss
- The small ergonomically-designed wands are simple to handle and avoids the mess and rigmarole of preparing and administering an alginate or PVS impression
- Transferring digital impressions to the lab is as simple as pressing a button
- Image files are received complete with patient details and any additional notes, such as shade information, keeping everything conveniently in one place
- On receipt, the technician starts the design phase with no need to scan or pour models and turnaround time is therefore significantly reduced, meaning patients receive their restorations earlier and both practice and lab operate more efficiently
- Digital communication by email or through digital software is immediate and more fruitful as any missing information or queries can be dealt with quickly and efficiently with all the information at the fingertips of both clinician and technician
- The opportunity to virtually trial different treatment options also speeds up treatment decisions and the life-like graphics and 3D printing of realistic restorative models increases patient acceptance.
Better business for practice and lab
Faster, more accurate treatment means higher productivity for both practice and laboratory, and happy patients should mean positive reviews and an increase in patient recommendation.
What forward-thinking practice wouldn’t want to be known as one that has clearly invested in their business to provide the best care for their patients, by equipping themselves with the latest dental technology and working with a streamlined, digitally-enabled laboratory?
You can also access a range of education resources, video tutorials, courses and CPD webinars at dentsplysirona.com/ukeducation.
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