I began my journey in the dental industry back in 1993, my junior year of high school at Fort Hayes, a vocational school in Columbus, Ohio. I have been obsessed with teeth from a very young age. My mother used to keep these school days journals from kindergarten through my senior year asking my twin sister Shirley and me the same questions annually… favorite class, who your friends were, favorite teacher, and of course “what do you want to be when you grow up?” My answer was consistent for all 13 years of my primary school days… I wanted to be a Dentist! When I had an opportunity to spend half a day at a vocational school studying something I was passionate about, I jumped on it and signed up for the 2-year Dental Lab Technology course. Mr. Shepherd, my instructor, was quite passionate about dentures and inspired me to stick with dental lab technology. Little does he know he has made an everlasting impression on my life that I will forever be grateful for. See what I did there? Yeah… no stand-up comedy here.
Upon graduation, I attended a local community college for Dental Lab Technology and began working in dental sales. I found my niche and shifted gears from having dreams of being a dentist to owning my own denture lab to claiming dental sales as my career path in 1996. Back then, Belleglass and Dicor were the *BIG* thing. It has been quite the journey watching things develop and evolve over the last 26 years… all of the cool technology coming out year after year for fixed dentistry that leads to a complete digital workflow. Meanwhile, removable dentistry was stuck in the analog world where our aprons were covered in pink wax as we sat at the bench in front of a bunsen burner with a wax cup attached to it, perfecting handmade dentures.
There have been early adopters of digital dentures and we have really seen several phases. Materials are getting better for both milling and 3D printing. The question of the day is do I mill or do I print? We all know that additive manufacturing is faster and far more affordable than subtractive manufacturing. In the earlier stages of digital dentures, milling a denture base was far better in regards to strength and aesthetics. Dentca released the first FDA-approved printable denture base resin back in 2018. Others have followed with the coveted FDA approval and now we have several options to choose from with a range in translucency, strength, and the overall aesthetics of a printed denture.
On August 26th, 2019, Dentsply got FDA approval for their Lucitone Digital Print Denture resin. It became available in September of 2019 to early access partners with a full launch to all Carbon M-Series users in Q1 of 2020. Since then, the exclusive contract with Carbon ended and the Lucitone Digital Print Denture system is approved for use with Sprintray and Asiga printers - in addition to Carbon. Now, 3D printing digital dentures with a superior material has become more affordable for everyone.
Why Asiga? Well… it is a completely open-source printer. It’s fast. It’s accurate. It’s affordable. You have two options, depending on your workflow and capacity needs. You have the tried and true tabletop model, the Asiga Max which retails just under $11,000, and the big brother, the Asiga Pro 4K with a build plate three times the size of the Asiga Max, priced just under $25,000.
It seems smart to go with two of the Asiga Max printers, running them simultaneously printing bases on one and teeth on the other to streamline the process.
In addition to the cost of the printer you choose, you will need to invest in a Lucitone Digital Print Denture starter bundle for approximately $10,000. This bundle will include material for 50 arches with the denture and try-in resins, 100 IPN 3D Digital Denture Tooth cards, fusing material, an inLab Speedcure processing unit, an IPN 3D Denture Tooth library license, and some ancillary items. Once you are up and running with the LDP system, you can buy materials in bundles based on your volume to maximize your savings.
Dentsply is launching a new curing light for LDP called Lucitone Digital Cure. This light will be able to cure up to nine arches simultaneously in 1 hour and 20 minutes without flipping and will have a retail price tag of $5,000. The Speedcure retails for $8,000 and you can cure two arches simultaneously in 26 minutes by flipping halfway through the cycle.
I know that many of us have been skeptical over the years as technology has shifted, changed, and improved for the removable market. I can say that it is here. It is solid. It is worth exploring. When you decide that it is time for you to take your removable business digital, do not forget education and continued support. This is just as important as having an accurate and dependable printer alongside materials that are aesthetic and functional for long-term dentures. When choosing a partner to team up with, vet them out. Get an online demo if an in-person demo is not available. Ask lots of questions and be confident moving forward into the digital denture world whether you take baby steps or jump all in with both feet.