I have just returned from a day spent at a major dental school, where our team checked the calibration on nearly 100 Hanau and Whip Mix articulators. These instruments are less than four years old and used in a closed educational setting, yet still a large percentage of them needed adjustment to bring them back to their factory settings and function.
In the real world of dentistry, there are grand old instruments used every day that I would venture to say offer nowhere near the original function. Then there are the instruments that, in general, are left on the bookshelf or in the cabinet, and trotted out now and then, for the occasional “big” case.
Tom Zaleske, a good dental friend and expert in removable restorations, posted a photo on social media. This Hanau version of the articulator is the same instrument my father used in dental school in the 1960’s, so I think it is aptly named, “Hanausaurus Rex”. It was the Rex or ‘King’, at the time and very scary if you did not know how it operated. While the functional principles of articulation it used are still current, (Bonwill, etc.) the Semi-adjustable articulator in general is much improved.
Transferability between articulators has changed from zero transferability (like the REX) to 20 microns or under in accuracy. Magnetic attachment of mounting rings increases accuracy, and convenience both in working and in shipping cases without the instrument attached (Shipping an instrument is a huge cause of articulator inaccuracy). Improved materials for wear related parts like condyles and condylar balls, and the redesign of the condyles themselves. Inclusion in Digital libraries are limited to current instrumentation. Lastly, Facebow record transfers to the articulator are much easier.
Accuracy of the individual instruments has improved drastically and yet the old clunker gets dragged out (As in an Rx instruction I mentioned in a previous BLOG, “Mount to a Big Articulator”) when we think we need something better than the plastic hinges we do most single tooth replacement on today.
After all, most professionals are not using the handpiece they had in the 1960’s, nor the patient chair with a spittoon. Perhaps some of the ancient instrumentation that has been in service now for multiple generations should be retired. They do look nice on the shelf with a well-mounted set of models made of Whip Mix Gypsum (also starting industry replacement with 3D printed models) right alongside the belt driven slow speed handpiece.
If you are using an instrument that is ten years old or less, which has not been calibrated since you acquired it, you should have it done. If your instrument is over ten years old and not a current production model, it is entirely possible that parts are not even available. Take a couple of photos of your Whip Mix, Denar or Hanau instrument (please remove the dust prior to photographing) and e-mail them to Whip Mix. Our Certified Dental Technicians will let you know where your instrument stands, and which of the current line of our articulators would fit your practice needs nicely.
There may come a day when the use of CBCT scans and digital diagnostics and design will replace your mechanical instrumentation, but not for a while yet. Let us help you get your current instrumentation up to par so your practice is producing the best possible restorations.
In the meantime, take the time to watch this very informative and inspirational webinar and share it with your team.