Inside Dental Technology
A Technologist’s Peace of Mind
Find serenity before and after your purchases with the right manufacturer.
It was the unspoken pressure of five generations of Fillastre men that drove Alvin Fillastre III, CDT, to enroll in dental school. After graduating from college in 1975, he worked in his father’s in-office laboratory, but soon family expectations to carry on the generations-old legacy became too much and he sought to enter dental school three years later. What he quickly discovered was that although the clinical work intrigued and interested him, the patient aspect of dentistry did not. What he enjoyed most was the small laboratory he set up in his off-campus apartment where, in his spare time, he did the laboratory work for upper classmen. Two years into the program, Fillastre made the decision to return home to Lakeland, Florida and set up a commercial laboratory in his father’s dental office.
Because Fillastre’s father was an internationally known lecturer, he was exposed to and interfaced with some of the world’s best dentists and dental technologists. The 1970s and 1980s were dentistry’s renaissance period where seeking a true understanding of the natural structure of the tooth and nuances of color to replicate nature were paramount. To satisfy the appetite of these young international artists, manufacturers invented new materials. Internal modifiers, opal incisals, and chromatized dentins helped them take their artistry to new levels. This was an exciting time in dental technology for Fillastre and others like him to learn and hone their art.
Today, Fillastre operates his six-person Florida crown-and-bridge laboratory out of a facility he built in 2000 after breaking away from his father when he retired in 1995. In his nearly four decades in the business, Fillastre has seen many new materials and technologies come and go and production models change from fast to faster. But he does not ubscribe to current trends toward a price-driven, high production, fast-turnaround business model that pressures businesses to cut corners to achieve. He insists the key to running a successful and sustainable business in this industry is to concentrate on the quality of the end product and cultivate clients who appreciate the effort in producing cases that exhibit high-end esthetics, form, and function. Understanding the limitations and indications of all the new materials coming onto the marketplace is also critical Fillastre says as well as keeping an open door of communication with your clients and never losing the natural curiosity to research and investigate the new materials and tools coming to market.
When pressing technology arrived on the dental technology scene more than a decade ago, Fillastre did not hesitate to get involved. It was a new and faster method that showed great promise in terms of accuracy and esthetics for producing the time-consuming all-ceramic restorations, which were growing in demand. Although it was rough going in the beginning, Fillastre was determined to fully research the materials and technology to ensure he understood how the technology worked and where the materials best served in the oral environment. “When pressing first came to market those of us involved in the technology were flying blind,” said Fillastre. “Different pressing ingots required different pressing temperatures and different pressing times. And we didn’t have a way to calibrate our pressing furnaces to ensure the correct heat settings. Even the manufacturers didn’t have ready answers for us.” As technicians struggled to master the technique, what often resulted were low value high translucency restorations that were “grayed” out from over pressing, or mis-presses, and cracked rings.
It took nearly a decade of technological advancements and learning the nuances of the all-ceramic pressing technique among manufacturers and technicians before the process became problem-free. “The technology has now caught up with the materials,” said Fillastre. “Today, it’s almost like a new world of pressing.”
Among the biggest advancements in the technology, Fillastre explains, have been the inventions of sensor technology and automated furnace calibration in pressing furnaces. Until that time, technicians were neither certain if the oven reached the correct standard pressing temperature and pressure nor were they positive when the pressing process was complete. As more manufacturers began introducing pressing furnaces onto the market, Fillastre set out to research each of their technologies and specifications. “After all my investigation, I came to the conclusion that the Whip Mix ProPress SP was the best furnace for my money,” said Fillastre. “There are only a couple of furnaces on the market that offer a true sensor technology, and it’s this feature that has eliminated so many problems previously experienced with pressing ceramics.” The ProPress SP’s air-pressure-driven press plunger and sensor technology also help eliminate the potential for cracked rings because, he explained, the air pressure in the press chamber drops as the pressing cycle moves toward completion. To keep the temperature and pressing pressure to standards, the ProCal™ automated digital calibration technology, with its industrial-grade thermocouple, calibrates the oven overnight to the correct pressing standards.
But it is the speed of the pressing cycle that really impresses Fillastre. “The key to getting the best results with any pressable ceramic is exposing that ring the least amount of time to hot temperatures and keeping it the least amount of time in the furnace,” he said. “The ProPress SP completes a pressing cycle in almost half the time of other ovens on the market.” With a faster press cycle, the formation of a reaction layer on the pressed restoration also is minimized, which he says speeds up production time.
Fillastre uses the ProPress SP’s dual functionality to stain and glaze pressed restorations or to fire porcelain layered units. The furnace’s patented fast cool feature reduces furnace heat very quickly down to idle temperature, which he says is what you want for best results when firing porcelain. This feature helps streamline his production processes and keeps cases moving smoothly through the laboratory.”
“Nearly 80% of the total number of restorations we produce in our laboratory today are all-ceramic,” said Fillastre. “The transition from PFM-based prosthetics to all-ceramic over the last five years has been a huge shift in the market. Having a plug-and-play furnace with automated features like the MasterSuite CD/thumb drive that provides dozens of pressing programs for automatic downloading into the furnace or the ability to press split rings are big pluses in terms of time-savings. And the furnace’s three-year warranty protects my investment and gives me peace of mind.”
The preceding material was provided by the manufacturer. The statements and opinions contained therein are solely those of the manufacturer and not of the editors, publisher, or the Editorial Board of Inside Dental Technology.