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    The digital workflow with 3M

    How the 3M™ True Definition Scanner and Lava Esthetic Zirconia help streamline the lab workflow.

    The goals of Scripps Center for Dental Care are to provide the very best in technology, amenities, techniques, and materials and the safest, most comfortable experience possible for their patients. 

    The goals of Thayer Dental Lab are to enhance the quality of patient care and offer dentists the latest advances in dental technology. 

    To facilitate those goals, the respective dentist and lab technician at these businesses — John F. Weston, DDS and Craig Yoder, CDT — utilize the digital workflow offered by 3M. Dr. Weston uses the 3M True Definition Scanner to take and send digital impressions to the lab, while Yoder uses 3Shape Dental Manager to design the restorations and 3M™ Lava™ Esthetic Fluorescent Full-Contour Zirconia to mill them. 

    3M Lava Esthetic Fluorescent Full-Contour Zirconia“When it comes to submitting digital scans to the lab instead of sending rubber impressions in the mail, it’s just an incredible time savings on both ends,” says Dr. Weston. “With digital impressions, we deliver everything via the internet and secure 3M cloud-based data storage system. Also, though most cases are model-free, when an actual model is used, the lab does not have the stone model work to deal with. They can order and receive in a few days a very accurate 3D printed, articulated trimmed and pinned model ready to go via 3M’s trusted SLA printing connection. And the models are cleaner and often more accurate than traditional stone and plaster models.” 

    Technique: How going digital can revolutionize esthetics

    “Currently, scanning is becoming the new preliminary department, versus the traditional pour-and-trim,” says Yoder. “Of the restorations we produce, 97 percent are digital in one way or another.” 

    Craig says that Thayer has used CAD/CAM to drive a complete shift away from traditional waxing. They now utilize scanning and design software to either mill or print restorations. This shift has transformed the laboratory, from labor, staffing and equipment resource requirements. 

    “There’s a tremendous amount of IT involved, new computers, scanners and the licenses involved, and multiple milling machines, 3D printers and sintering ovens,” says Yoder. “There’s also less labor involved in the artistic end of it in the ceramics department, resulting in more time to create beautiful, esthetic, functional, consistent restorations. We now have faster turnaround times, especially with the intraoral scanners and virtual manufacturing versus traditional impressions. Regarding cost, there are significantly fewer manufacturing steps by eliminating waxing, investing, casting/pressing or layering, so it’s more efficient in many ways.” 

    More on 3M Lava Esthetic Zirconia: 3M introduces new super translucent zirconia

    That efficiency is also evident in Dr. Weston’s practice. 

    “Once you truly integrate a new workflow like digital scanning for impressions into your practice, it permanently and fundamentally changes how you structure everything,” says Dr. Weston. “Our chair time is less because adjustments are few and far between, so the entire team — from front office scheduling to supplies and assistants — has time to make the paradigm shift to fully take advantage of the benefits. Take, for instance, the simple conversion from analog to digital X-rays, the time savings, the consistent quality of image and the patient perception. I could go on. It’s really a game changer in my opinion.” 

    Next: The workflow

     

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