What do dental teams REALLY think of digital impressions?
Experts weigh in on the pros and cons of using this technology.
We spoke to our experts from different parts of the dental team to find out what they actually think about digital impressions and how they're impacting the dental industry.
What does this clinician really think?
Dr. Mark Hyman has been taking digital impressions for nearly 20 years. He uses them as part of his suite of digital dentistry services. He loves them. His team loves them. And his patients? Well, they love it the most—or at least they love the treatment they get. As a result, his practice in North Carolina has more than 1,200 5-Star reviews.
Dr. Hyman frames his use of digital impressions and related digital dentistry suite to patients in a unique way.
“I'll say 'have you ever heard of this?' Almost always they'll say, 'no, what's that?' and I’ll respond, ‘Remember when you had your crown before, it was three or four visits and the temporary came off, and the crown didn't fit, and you had re-impress it and you gagged on the impression? And the tray cut your gum? We don't do any of that anymore. Instead of three weeks, your crown will be made in eight minutes. How's that strike you?’ And they go nuts,” Dr. Hyman says.
Patients aren’t the only ones who appreciate digital impressions. Dr. Hyman’s dental assistant team likes digital impressions also. Dr. Hyman believes in training his staff members and then getting out of their way.
“I do the preparation for a CEREC unit for a CAD/CAM, and I walk out of the room. I leave them to place the cord, scan, mill it, try it in and do the pre-cementation radiograph. Often, I come in and it’s already etched and bonded, and I place it. I'll adjust the occlusions and take a final post-cementation radiograph to confirm all cement has been taken out.”
His lead assistant has been with him for 18 years. Dr. Hyman attributes his staff members’ happiness and willingness to be part of the team to the fact that they are challenging themselves as dental professionals.
“It's because instead of just sitting there, sucking spit, they get to play with a $100,000 CAD/CAM machine. So, from a self-esteem point of view, they're using their talents,” Dr. Hyman explains.
Dr. Hyman especially appreciates the exactitude a digital impression facilitates. Many moments in a traditional process present opportunities for errors, from the handling of the materials while taking the impression to the shrinkage or expansion that occurs during the casting process.
“There are so many errors introduced in the process of using an impression, so when you scan it, the precision skyrockets,” Dr. Hyman says.
Dr. Hyman and his team handle a lot of the crowns in-house with their CEREC CAD/CAM system. However, he does still use his lab. His Master Ceramist Mark Whitaker,and he have worked together for over a decade. It all started when Whitaker sent back Dr. Hyman’s first scan. Dr. Hyman joked with him, saying, ‘Do you know who I am?’ to which Whitaker replied, “Yeah, that’s why I sent it back!” Dr. Hyman appreciates having a trusting relationship with the lab.
“I said 'Wait a minute. So, here's the deal, anything I send you that's not perfect, send it back. I promise I'll redo it, no questions. And anything you send me that isn't perfect, I ain't paying for it,'” Dr. Hyman recounts, laughing. “And we've worked together 11 years. The work I show in my seminars nationally and internationally is his work.”
Ultimately, Dr. Hyman puts patient care first in his practice. His digital impressions and related CAD/CAM dentistry allow him to provide it. Not only that, but everybody wins.
“The patients get a superior restoration. You feel good as a professional and practitioner. You don't have to pay for that second visit where there's no change. You don't have to pay for temporary material, impression material and temporary cement. The lab gets a finer scan to do better work if you don't mill in-house. The teammates are a dynamic, active part of the restorative team. Just everybody benefits.”
Up next: What a lab technician thinks...