Digital Doubter Becomes CAD/CAM Connoisseur
Veteran technician embraces opportunities that technology affords
Sam Payne was a skeptic when it came to digital dentistry. Mentored in dental technology by an older generation, he laughed off early CAD/CAM machines, which he says produced inferior quality compared with his analog work.
That was several years ago, however. Now, Payne has opened an entirely digital laboratory called MyRapidCAM. His old laboratory, Aesthetic Glassworx, is kept open only for a few longtime clients. Payne says he considers himself not only on the cutting edge, but on the “bleeding edge.”
“One of the most significant advantages of utilizing digital technology is the ease with which communication between clinician, surgeon, and laboratory technician is facilitated,” says Payne, who has been a laboratory owner since 1993. “Teamwork results in greater patient satisfaction. CAD/CAM technology eliminates most of the variables associated with analog work and provides repeatability.”
Payne’s transition from doubter to devotee began a few years ago when one of his clients purchased a Planmeca PlanScan intraoral scanner and asked him to put a Planmeca PlanMill (formerly known as the E4D Mill) in his laboratory. The client offered to purchase all the materials if Payne would handle the milling, staining, and glazing.
“I spent time experimenting with the software and the machine, and I became hooked,” Payne says. “I got to see how consistent it was and how quickly I could complete cases. Eventually, it just seemed foolish that I had not gotten involved in digital dentistry already.”
As a result, Payne and his business partner decided to open MyRapidCAM and began phasing out Aesthetic Glassworx. Some of his clients purchased PlanScan scanners and migrated to digital dentistry, while Payne kept the old laboratory open for clients who were not ready to go digital.
“The transition was not easy,” Payne says, “but the payoff was well worth it.
“There is a learning curve at first, but that is not unique to CAD/CAM. There is a learning curve for everything, whether it is a new handpiece or even a porcelain brush. Once you spend some time using it, it becomes second nature. The efficiency and time savings then become a blessing.”
The final product often is better as well. The digital process allows for more communication with the dentists during each stage, which Payne says is helpful because dentists have varying training backgrounds and treatment ideas.
“Digital collaboration has allowed the dentists to get more involved in the final result,” he says.
The capabilities of a full digital laboratory go beyond simply accepting digital scans from a dentist and milling restorations. That is why Payne says he is not satisfied with being merely on the cutting edge.
“With some techniques, I would say that we are on the bleeding edge,” he says. “We have been utilizing the PlanScan scanner for patient-specific implant abutments and have developed our own technique of using scan bodies. We are training surgeons to use our scan-body library to have custom abutments fabricated for their referring clients.”
That is the type of service that allows a small laboratory to survive and compete with the larger companies. Payne currently has only one other employee but plans to expand once he moves to a new facility soon.
“We really try to find niche markets and innovations that personalize the services that we provide to the dentists,” Payne says. “We are trying to fill the gaps that larger laboratories do not address.”
One of those areas, in some cases, is education. Payne says he takes advantage of Planmeca’s technology to help his clients improve their work.
“We provide initial training when a client starts using an intraoral scanner,” Payne says. “After they have had the scanner for a short amount of time, we go back and ask them what they feel they need to improve on. Because they are sending us their scans, we can see every step of their progress. We can then go back after a few months to give them further training and guidance on future digital diagnostic solutions, as well as other treatment options that they can use in order for them to get the most out of their investment.”
Not only is Payne now an educator on the technology he once shunned, but he hopes to continue utilizing it for more innovations in the future.
“The cost and time savings associated with CAD/CAM technologies allow us to spend more time researching and developing solutions for our clients, as well as explore other digital avenues that are only just now being discovered,” he says.
The Planmeca PlanScan is a powder-free scanner that utilizes blue laser technology to capture highly detailed images for more accurate and clinically precise designs. The plug-and-play technology gives users the freedom to scan at multiple workstations to easily collaborate with other users including laboratories, and eliminate any downtime between patients.
For more information, contact:
Planmeca CAD/CAM Solutions