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    The top 10 developments in dental technology in 2017

    2017 has been a year of advancements ­— not in tools themselves, but in how they impact the industry.


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    3. Regulatory involvement in dental labs by the FDA 

    Mark Ferguson, general manager of Vulcan Custom Dental in Birmingham, Alabama, says that one of the biggest things to affect dental tech this year is a stronger FDA presence, specifically in dental labs and particularly in regards to implant dentistry. 

    “In my experience, the FDA’s involvement was strong this year,” he says. “There were FDA audits on a number of dental laboratories, which was almost unheard of in the past.” 

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    Ferguson asserts that this wasn’t because of new rules that had been put in place. The real reason is that enforcement of those rules has changed, thanks in part to the digitizing of implants. 

    “Implant abutments are considered a medical device,” he says. “To produce and manufacture a custom abutment from a CAD/CAM workflow, the facility would have to be registered with the FDA as a medical device manufacturer or a contract manufacturer. In the past, with UCLA abutments or through grinding down stock abutments, that’s never been the case. If a lab is manufacturing CAD/CAM abutments, they would have to be registered as a medical device manufacturer or a contract manufacturer for a company creating the blanks.” 

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    Ferguson thinks it’s imperative that dental professionals research where they’re getting their abutments made. 

    “It’s important for people who are manufacturing CAD/CAM abutments to make sure that they have everything in line,” he says. And it’s not just for custom abutments. The same goes for surgical guides. 

    “If you’re printing a surgical guide, you should be registered with the FDA as a medical device manufacturer,” he says. “For labs that are doing that that aren’t registered, they put not only that surgical guide business in jeopardy, but their entire lab in jeopardy. To get the entire lab shut down because of an extra product that you’re not even making much money on is a risk that labs shouldn’t be taking.” 



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