As I reflect on the last 23 years of my career in the dental industry it is evident that things have changed. We just don’t do things the way we used to. Just one example, when I was in dental lab school we poured stone into our impressions, but with digital technology on the rise we now have many dental labs that have gone completely model less with the help of digital impressions. If someone had told me back then that we would be printing models from digital impressions in the near future I would have told them that they were crazy. But here we are, immersed in digital technology and printing models. Embracing these changes come easier for some than others. For those that fear or fight the change, I would like to encourage you to embrace it; Socrates said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

With that being said, intraoral scanners (IOS) are making their way into more and more dental offices across the United States. This means that you, as a lab partner, need to be equipped to accept those digital impressions. If you haven’t bought into digital technology for your dental lab, you need to or you will risk losing accounts as your doctor’s embrace taking digital impressions, which provide patient comfort and achieve greater accuracy. Here is why you should proactively discuss digital impressions with your doctor.

  1. Not all intraoral scanners can provide an easy transaction for the laboratory. Depending on which scanner you have in your lab, you could be faced with steep fees from the manufacturer of your doctor’s intraoral scanner. For example, if you are not a lab partner with that manufacturer you would have to pay up to $5,000 just to be able to open the file and print your model in-house or use the model printing partner of your choice.
  2. Educate yourself on the different IOS systems on the market so that you can guide your doctor into making a purchasing decision that will be mutually beneficial to them as well as you, their lab partner.

To further the importance of dentist-lab communication, the article “Understanding the Potential Of Digital Intraoral Scanner & Benchtop Scanning Workflows”, published by Compendium, Dr. Curtis E. Jansen discusses this topic. He states that there is an importance of understanding the architecture of CAD/CAM systems and that barriers among different equipment & software companies can hinder the use of data. In addition, he stresses the importance for dentists to communicate with their dental lab partners when making decisions around new digital technology.

As digital technology presents a stronger presence in the dental industry, dental laboratories need to arm themselves with knowledge, embrace technology and proactively discuss digital impressions with their doctors. The future of your dental lab may depend on it. 

Photo courtesy of 3Shape A/S.



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