Inside Dental Technology
Building on an Educational Foundation
Partnering with Zahn Dental to further production goals and ensure high-end results
As Vice President and Director of Education at Marotta Dental Studio, Steve Pigliacelli, CDT, MDT, credits the laboratory’s dedication to quality as its primary competitive edge in the market. And, in his view, Marotta Dental Studio has been able to maintain that quality by prioritizing continuing education and certification. “Education is the number one way a laboratory can set itself apart from the competition,” asserts Pigliacelli, who began his career in dental technology more than 30 years ago at the age of 16. “Attending seminars, taking continuing education courses, and pursuing different certifications, all expose a laboratory technologist to new materials, techniques, and technologies. Most importantly, that expanded clinical and technical knowledge prepares the laboratory to become a resource for clients.” This mindset has helped Marotta Dental Studio grow from a one-person operation in 1981 to the 40-plus-employee business that it is today, and many of the technicians working at the company are certified CDTs, MDTs, or both. “We just had 6 of our CDTs pass their MDT test, and we have another 6 preparing to take the CDT exam,” beams Pigliacelli. “And, the laboratory’s founder and owner, Lenny Marotta, possesses a CDT, MDT, and PhD. As far as we’re aware, he is the only technician in the industry with a PhD.”
Marotta Dental Studio’s dedication to continuing education has led to a number of rewarding relationships and opportunities for the laboratory, including being sought out for beta testing newly developed technologies and materials. “We’ve been a part of CAD/CAM dentistry since day one,” says Pigliacelli. “And about 10 years ago, just around the time Lenny’s son, Joshua Marotta, CDT, MDT joined our staff, we started doing in-house CAD/CAM milling.”
Under Joshua Marotta’s leadership, Marotta Dental Studio’s CAD/CAM department has expanded, and today a large percentage of the laboratory’s work is sourced through the digital workflow. Pigliacelli says that part of the reason digital dentistry has become so prominent in the last decade is that the quality of material and milling technology has improved exponentially, especially in the past couple of years. Additionally, as the technology has become more reliable, the demand for milled zirconia restorations has grown significantly.
Some of Marotta Dental Studio’s most-requested products are full-contour and layered zirconia restorations. Until recently, zirconia milling blocks were supplied only in various shades of white. Pigliacelli says the whiteness of zirconia blocks challenged technicians to overcome the opaque nature of the milled coping or crown to achieve the desired translucency and esthetics. In order to manage this negative, manufacturers introduced shading liquids for dipping and staining milled restorations prior to sintering. However, dipping was an analog process that not only disrupted the digital workflow but also resulted in unesthetic white spots when clinicians made adjustments chairside and ground through the thin shade layer. The introduction of new pre-shaded zirconia milling blocks has solved these problems. Pigliacelli says that pre-shaded blocks such as Zirlux® represents a vast improvement over the white zirconia blocks the laboratory used in the past. “ Now, it is much easier to create highly-esthetic, translucent full-contour restorations,” he explains. Pigliacelli also notes that Zirlux is exceptionally strong and demonstrates outstanding durability—and as such can be used as a substitute for metal when building porcelain restorations. “We use Zirlux for porcelain-fused-to-zirconia restorations as well as full-contour crowns. We don’t have to limit ourselves to just one type of restoration because the material is so versatile.”
Beyond its technical specifications, one of the most beneficial aspects of working with Zirlux zirconia is that Zahn Dental serves as the laboratory’s marketing partner. “Because Zahn is the laboratory branch of Henry Schein Dental, their laboratory products are already being marketed directly to a clinical audience. So clinicians know about the materials we’re using and are asking for them specifically because they heard about them through Schein,” says Pigliacelli. “We’re working together to sell the same product, and it’s good have someone on our side.”
Pigliacelli also appreciates that Zahn Dental’s support extends beyond that of a marketing partner. “Smaller companies just don’t have the ability to support a laboratory on the same level as a large company like Zahn,” says Pigliacelli. “For example, if one of our machines goes down, Zahn Dental is set up to not only dispatch someone to fix it immediately, but take on any designs we may have in-house and mill them at Custom Milling Center (CMC), their outsourcing partner, so we don’t lose any production time.”
Even as CAD/CAM becomes more integral to the everyday processes of the industry, and demand for restorations made from millable materials like Zirlux zirconia increases, Pigliacelli views the technology as just one more tool, albeit one that is very necessary to create the restorations that are now the most in-demand in the dental industry. “CAD/CAM zirconia restorations are only going to become increasingly popular as other new technologies, such as intraoral scanners, start to take hold in the industry. I think that technicians need to educate themselves and prepare to use these new technologies in the future.” In the end, however, Pigliacelli is sure to note that while CAD/CAM is useful, it will never replace the knowledge of a good technician. “We are going to be needed by the dental industry for a very, very long time!” he says.
Disclaimer: 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.
Zirlux® FC2 Zirconia
Zahn Dental’s Zirlux® FC2 Zirconia is a highly translucent, highly esthetic, strong, pre-shaded zirconia material available in 98.5 and 100 mm discs. Zirlux FC2 provides clinicians with exceptional restorations and are available for multiple restorative options. Zirlux FC2 is indicated for full contour crowns, bridges, inlays, onlays, and frameworks.
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