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    How CAD/CAM dentistry makes me a better dentist

    One dentist shares how chairside CAD/CAM dentistry can lead to more precise restorations.

    We are very lucky to be living in a time when we can take advantage of so many advances in dentistry. We are fortunate to be able to benefit from the research and innovations of pioneers like Dr. Carl Misch and Dr. Werner Moörmann in the fields of implantology and CAD/CAM dentistry.

    CAD/CAM dentistry has given dentists the opportunity to provide crowns and bridges that are strong, accurate and esthetic for the benefit of patients who require these services. But dentists have been slow to acquire and learn this new technology because of the very high price tag that comes with purchasing the equipment. Dental laboratories, however, have been quick to integrate this technology because of the many advantages in labor and time savings that they provide. Those of us who have acquired the technology for providing these services chairside to our patients are able to see the benefits, too.

    The first thing I noticed when I started using one of these systems to fabricate crowns in one day for my patients was that it made me be more careful and more detailed in preparing the teeth for a restoration. I now had to wear two hats:  The dentist hat and also the laboratory technician’s hat. If there was something wrong with the restoration, I could not blame it on the laboratory. The buck stopped with me. This is something that I know has made me a better dentist, and I have CAD/CAM dentistry to thank for it.

    Read more: What technology is right for your practice?

    I do not pretend to be an expert in the field, but my excitement with this technology has taken me to a point where I want to share the knowledge and benefits with my fellow dentists. I have had the opportunity to lead several courses on CAD/CAM dentistry in association with the Atlantic Coast Dental Research Clinic in Palm Beach County, Florida. These courses allow participating dentists to get hands-on experience with a digital intraoral impression system in a modern clinical setting with actual patients. The idea is to see if digital impressions and chairside CAD/CAM dentistry would be a good fit for the participating dentist before making a large investment in the technology.

    Let’s be honest, we all know that digital impressions and chairside milling of restorations is not something you cannot practice without. Dentists have already learned and established techniques and protocols for doing predictable crown and bridge procedures in their office with conventional impression systems. This delegates the fabrication of the restoration to the dental laboratory, which is exactly what dentists want. Most dentists prefer not to be bothered with the additional time and effort necessary to fabricate a crown. However, for those of us who are tinkerers, who are able to learn easy graphic design software, who like predictability in margins, contacts and occlusion, who like the ability to be able to modify a shade in-house and improve the look of a crown from good to great without an additional appointment, and who are willing to make a commitment to learn a new system, chairside CAD/CAM dentistry is for you.

    For the rest of our colleagues who rely on their trusted dental laboratory and watch with curiosity as the technology becomes better, faster and more affordable, I suggest you give it a test drive. Digital impressions will serve you well.  

    Carlos Boudet, DDS, DICOI
    Dr. Carlos Boudet is a 1980 graduate of the Medical College of Virginia VCU School of Dentistry in Richmond, Virginia. He is on the ...

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