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    13 things for labs to look forward to in 2018

    In the new year, labs can expect advances in technology, materials and the lab business itself.

    The dental lab world is constantly changing, improving and evolving, and 2018 looks to be calling for even more growth and transformation. Labs can look forward to advances in both technology and materials, not to mention the lab business itself.

    We talked to leaders in the lab field and asked them what they are looking forward to in the coming year.

    1. Interdisciplinary digital workflow

    Mark Ferguson, general manager at Vulcan Custom Dental, expects that cases will be improved because they will be even more digitally based and involve the entire team.

    “You can do guided surgery with single units to full-arch, custom provisionals milled for time of surgery and long-term patient health,” Ferguson says. “In that scenario, there will be a guided surgery software and the doctor will plan exactly where they are going to place an implant. We are using 3Shape to do this already. We can take the plan out of 3Shape’s Implant Studio and bring it into the 3Shape lab software, and it has the implant position in the software, so we can do a screw-retained temporary, healing abutments, start the healing process a little bit sooner, and get a better outcome as the final restorations get placed in the patient’s mouth.”

    Trending article: The top 3 software trends for 2018

    2. A team approach to communication

    That interdisciplinary approach is also improved through better communication between team members.

    “The enhanced communication between a doctor and a lab to complete the case is fantastic,” Ferguson says. “It helps the lab to understand what the doctor has to go through, just in terms of maybe placing implant. On the lab side, we look at it and we’re like, ‘What was the doctor thinking about when he placed the implant at this angle?’ And the doctor, at times, is just thinking, ‘I have to find some bone to put this into.’ We can’t see bone on a stone model.

    “As we start working together, more as a team — and it could be doctor and lab on a straight restorative basis or bringing in a surgeon and the periodontist — the more we understand interdisciplinary issues,” he continues. “For me, as a dental technician, the more that I learn about surgery for bone grafting or tissue grafting, it means understanding cases, how they got to that point. And bringing in a team approach is obviously going to help get the patient the best results in the end.”

    3. 3D printing and dentures

    Justin Marks, CDT, founder and CEO of 3D printing manufacturer Arfona, foresees big things happening for dentures in 2018.

    “That 3D printing technology that we are already using, we are going to see it become a little bit more refined,” Marks says. “I think the materials are going to get better, especially for long-term appliances, so we are going to see more widespread adoption at that point.”

    In terms of the materials used for those appliances, Marks says that advancement is going to be a combination of material formulation and government approvals.

    “I think it’s going to be a combination of new materials as well as clearing some of the regulatory burden,” Marks says. “Some materials have been ready for a while, they’ve just been waiting for regulatory (approval).”

    Up next: Advances in dentures and milling...

    Robert Elsenpeter
    Robert Elsenpeter is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Dental Products Report and Digital Esthetics. He is also the author ...

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