May 2011, Volume 32, Issue 4
Published by AEGIS Communications
Sirona Advances CAD/CAM to Help Dentistry Go Digital
CAD/CAM technology has benefited both dental practitioners and patients alike, and Sirona USA is helping lead advances in this key area of dentistry.
In the dental office, patients have enjoyed enhanced treatment thanks to CAD/CAM, notes Roddy MacLeod, Vice President of CAD/CAM at Sirona USA. "Single-appointment dentistry without the need for goopy impression materials and temporary restorations has significantly improved the patient experience in the practice," he says. "CEREC® customers are often surprised by how much their patients appreciate the convenience of having their restorations done in only one appointment."
Concurrently, in the dental laboratory, CAD/CAM streamlines the workflow and standardizes restoration fabrication, MacLeod asserts. "More importantly," he adds, "CAD/CAM laboratory machines supported by digital impression units in the dental office have the power to lower laboratory restoration costs dramatically."
According to MacLeod, by fabricating restorations without a physical model (possible in a great number of posterior 1- to 3-unit cases), laboratories experience significant cost savings. Moreover, CAD/CAM machines reduce the amount of labor required. Sirona’s CEREC and inLab® systems, for example, can work together via the company’s CEREC Connect technology to eliminate models for the vast majority of cases. This, in turn, brings down material costs as well.
Digital dentistry (ie, digital impressions and restorations) allows technicians to get closer to their customers, the dentists, MacLeod suggests. With CEREC and inLab technologies, the digital impression can be viewed in the lab while the patient is still in the dental chair. "No other technology allows for that, and we think it opens an exciting opportunity for lab technicians to interact with their customers in new value-added ways," he says. "It enables lab technicians to participate with dentists in the planning and execution of cases."
One of Sirona’s latest patented offerings in dental CAD software is CEREC Biogeneric. Featuring built-in pattern-recognition-like technology, the software, as MacLeod puts it, "reduces design time to nil." The technician or dentist needs only to include samples of the patient’s other teeth while taking the digital impression to obtain a lifelike occlusion proposed from the software, which is then automatically optimized with proximal and occlusal contacts.
"There’s nothing as sophisticated in dentistry, and it really speeds up the whole process with designs customized for each individual patient," MacLeod explains.
Looking forward, MacLeod believes the dental industry will see new pricing models for digital impressioning as well as an ever-expanding connectivity to other products and services. He adds that the digitization of the dental practice is following a logical process, and will continue to do so.
"Firstly, the information for the practice was digitized, and now many practices have begun digitizing their clinical work, too," says MacLeod. "Then, restoration/removable fabrication, implantology, and/or orthodontic treatments may all arise as treatment needs. Each of these processes will start with a digital impression, as we’ve shown with the CEREC/GALILEOS® (cone beam) integration."
The company strongly emphasizes training and education. Patterson Dental, a key partner with Sirona, provides CEREC and digital impression training in 1- and 2-day courses held in 34 training centers around the country. Additionally, Patterson Dental recently added a third day of in-office clinical support. And with each CEREC system, the company provides training vouchers for advanced CEREC training, featuring input from clinicians and institutes throughout the United States.
With a history of more than 130 years in the dental industry, Sirona has been dedicated to improving the patient’s dental experience and making the dental office and laboratory more productive—and central to this are these new technologies. Says MacLeod, "We’re focused on bringing CAD/CAM and digital dentistry to every practice and lab in the country."