Inside Dental Technology
Prioritizing Customer Service
Zirkonzahn helps laboratories tackle challenging cases head-on
When they first met while studying dental technology in South Africa in 1991, Klaas Van der Walt and Nico Pienaar did not anticipate the changes that accelerating technology would bring to the laboratory industry. “How far the entire industry has come just in the last 10 years still amazes me when I think about it,” muses Pienaar. After graduating from the dental technology program in 1995, the pair found that the profession was quickly evolving. After moving from South Africa to Saudi Arabia to work as technicians in a government-run hospital, Van der Walt and Pienaar dedicated themselves to honing their skill sets, making time to travel to Europe and take courses from some of the best ceramists the continent had to offer. “We knew expanding our knowledge was a necessary step if we were looking to adVance in this industry,” says Van der Walt. Eventually, the two moved to Canada and became Registered Dental Technicians. Then, once they had established themselves, Van der Walt and Pienaar opened their own laboratory, Pro-Esthetics, in North Vancouver, British Columbia in June of 2009.
From the beginning, Van der Walt and Pienaar turned their professional focus toward high-end, esthetic restorative cases. They also established that their main priority would be customer service, and the two worked tirelessly to become resources for their clients. “Service is paramount in the dental technology industry,” asserts Van der Walt. “As such, we have sought to create a business model that allows our clients to feel comfortable reaching out to us for guidance at any time. Big laboratories can let this aspect of the business fall by the wayside—we never wanted that to happen.”
The Pro-Esthetics approach also involves face-to-face interactions with patients, which Pienaar says gives everyone a greater sense of responsibility regarding the final outcome of any given case. “It also gives us a greater sense of satisfaction when we are able to see the final result in the patient’s mouth,” he says. Van der Walt adds that working with the patients directly has helped Pro-Esthetics’ technicians elevate their work to the next level and forge a connection. “Relationships are exceedingly important in the dental technology industry, and it is imperative that we have solid connections not only with our clients, but also with the patients.”
In order to stay at the top of their field and continue to provide the most consistent and best quality restorations, Pro-Esthetics embraced CAD/CAM technology. According to Pienaar, “Laboratories who don’t progress with new technology are under threat. There will come a point where laboratory owners find themselves so far behind it will be impossible to catch up.” He adds that those who have implemented CAD/CAM processes into their businesses are able to handle more work, and produce a more consistent final product than those who have rejected the technology.
Zirkonzahn was Pro-Esthetics’ top choice for a CAD/CAM partner. “We had a stringent list of criteria when we began researching CAD/CAM systems to integrate into our business,” describes Van der Walt. “Zirkonzahn met every single one of them.” Van der Walt says that one of the most important factors he and Pienaar considered was the type and breadth of materials a system supported. “Zirkonzahn has been in the dental materials arena even longer than they’ve been in the CAD/CAM arena, so we knew that their system would support the type of work we were looking to accomplish,” Van der Walt says.
One of the primary millable materials used by Pro-Esthetics is monolithic zirconia. “The cost of precious metals has really pushed laboratory owners into working with millable materials like zirconia because they are cost-efficient, but still offer strength and esthetics,” explains Van der Walt. “At Pro-Esthetics, we’ve always tried to be progressive and offer our clients the best, most adVanced, and cost-effective options. This is why we’ve been working with Zirkonzahn’s Prettau® zirconia.” Van der Walt describes that Prettau demonstrates excellent esthetics, abrasion characteristics, compatibility, and strength, which makes it an optimal for many of the cases that Pro-Esthetics takes on.
As the popularity of monolithic zirconia restorations continues to grow, Pro-Esthetics is prepared to take on the increased demand in-house. Van der Walt and Pienaar have already incorporated CAD/CAM technology into the laboratory’s everyday workflow, which has increased the laboratory’s production capacity while helping to ensure a highly consistent end result. Pienaar says, “We’ve been using Zirkonzahn’s M1 and M5 milling machines and have really noticed an increase in the amount of work we are able to accomplish within a certain timeframe. We can let the technology work overnight without supervision, and still get an excellent final product.”
Van der Walt and Pienaar do not see a future for the dental technology industry without CAD/CAM and millable materials technologies. “Even today, I’m not sure how laboratories compete without using CAD/CAM technology,” says Pienaar. “It’s a necessary component to staying releVant in this industry.” Van der Walt says that technology also makes the dental laboratory industry more appealing to young people looking for a career path, “It’s so important that we try to draw new people into this profession, and having fantastic technology like Zirkonzahn’s CAD/CAM milling machines and millable materials will help make it more desirable. The new technology is very positive for our industry, and I can’t wait to see how it progresses.”
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.
Zirkonzahn’s highly translucent Prettau® zirconia is indicated for everything from single crowns to large bridges (fully anatomic structures or reduced structures for veneering with ceramics). Prettau is exceptionally biocompatible, monolithic, and esthetically pleasing, and it eliminates the problem of ceramic chipping.
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