June 2015
Volume 6, Issue 6

Impression Scanning Provides Laboratory With New Levels of Productivity

Benefits abound for all players

By Don Albensi, CDT

› Dentists who are succeeding at digital impression scanning are achieving great results and enabling a whole new workflow on the laboratory side.
› The design process allows the scan to be viewed as a 2D or 3D image.
› When this technology is combined with monolithic restorative materials, a single employee can finish 75 to 80 units in an 8-hour period.
› The ease of finishing these cases is like nothing seen before.
› In the 8 years that Albensi Laboratories has been accepting digital scan files from dentists using chairside oral scanners, the laboratory has seen the technology advance significantly. Today, while digital scanning may not be a perfect fit for every practice, the dentists who are succeeding at it are achieving great results and enabling a whole new workflow on the laboratory side.

One of the first devices that Albensi Laboratories began accepting scans from was the 3M™ ESPE™ Lava™ Chairside Oral Scanner C.O.S., which has now evolved into the 3M True Definition Scanner. The laboratory has been recommending this product when speaking with clients because of the benefits that digital scanning provides to both dentists and laboratories.

Digital scanning technology has advanced to the point that laboratory productivity is at levels unheard of just a few years ago. When a scan file is received from the 3M True Definition Scanner, it is ready to be imported into the 3Shape Design System in a simple, smooth workflow. The design process allows the scan to be viewed as a 2D or 3D image, which helps create the most accurate design, and margin marking is fast and easy.

When this technology is combined with the use of monolithic restorative materials, some of our employees can finish 75 to 80 units in an 8-hour period. In many cases, only quadrant models need to be printed to check contacts and margins because the accuracy of the restorations is so reliable. The ease of finishing these cases is like nothing we’ve seen before, and the added productivity has allowed us to decrease our prices by about $20 per unit.

These are significant advantages and a big part of the reason that dentists’ interest in digital scanners has steadily increased throughout the years. However, Albensi Laboratories still counsels dentists carefully to consider if theirs is the right type of practice to make the leap into digital scanning. The laboratory tells dentists three parties need to be ready in order to make the transition into digital scanning successful: the dentist, staff members, and the laboratory. When these elements are in place, the transition is made considerably easier, and it’s then that dentists are very happy with the technology.

When the transition for the dentist goes well, the results can be dramatic—and a great example is a client who acquired a 3M True Definition Scanner and was using it proficiently within 2 weeks. He is now sending Albensi approximately 120 scans per month with a remake rate that is next to zero, and he has had the scanner for just about 3 months.

Final Thoughts

Examples like this show that when conditions are right and the dentist and laboratory are ready to collaborate with digital scanning, productivity gains follow quickly. The steady increase in digital scanning cases is something that should make the laboratory community very excited.

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions contained in the preceding material are not of the editors, publisher, or the Editorial Board of Inside Dental Technology.

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