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    9 things you REALLY need to know about digital imaging

    Unpacking terms like open, closed and everything in-between.



    Like your computer, dental scanners require two components: hardware and software. The two have a symbiotic relationship—each needs the other to do its job.

    “It’s like Apple,” observes Tony Ly, CAD/CAM manager at Keating Dental Arts in Irvine, Calif. “The hardware and the software have to be integrated perfectly. The hardware needs to be reliable; the software needs to be user-friendly. The hardware has to be accurate. The software has to be able to stitch all the scans together. The two have to work together perfectly for that to happen.”

    Product roundup: Lab and case management software

    “You have to look at the system as a whole because manufacturers are becoming more and more open to where the files can be created,” adds Mark Ferguson, assistant manager at Core3dcentres in Las Vegas. “As systems have gotten more open, they’re starting to look at the system as a whole. Is this scanner accurate enough? Is this design software easy to  use? Is the design software open enough that I can do what I want with it? Because some of the closed systems may not allow you to be able to do certain indications because they’re just not in the software.”

    Thanks to ever-evolving design software, more complex cases can be created.

    “You can use this technology for crown and bridge work—just simple things,” says Alessandro Cucchiaro, CMDT, MDT, general manager of Zirkonzahn USA. “You don’t need a very sophisticated system to perform these types of restorations. But when you get into something more complicated, like full-arch, screw-retained bridges, this type of technology turns out to be absolutely unique because besides constructing the bridge itself, I use it personally as an amazing diagnostic tool.”

    Design software is where new features and functions of scanning systems will show the greatest development and evolution.

    “What’s the most important in all of this is how advanced the software is because then it’s about how much time it’s going to take the technician to design a case and then the quality of the design,” Cohen says. “From my perspective, the CAD is just as important, or more important, than the physical scanner the laboratory purchases. The vast majority of scanners available on the dental market today are adequately accurate for more than 99 percent of the cases we do.”

    For instance, Just notes that Dental Wings provides the capability of changing workflows midstream—an ability that is especially appealing to dental labs.

    “If you tell a lab at the beginning that you’re going to do a crown and, before you get all the way through the design, the doctor calls the lab and says, ‘Oh, by way, I’m not going to do a crown; I’d much rather you did a layered zirconia crown,’ you have to go back and rescan it,” Just says. “You can’t change that midstream because it looks at it totally differently. Dental Wings looks at it as, ‘This is a scan, and, before shipping it off to the CAD software, we’re going to have you determine the path of insertion, the margins and all the other goodies.’ It’s still an STL file, but now it’s an STL file that has the landmarks and information that Dental Wings is looking for.”

    Continue to page six for more...


    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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