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    What digital dentistry means for implants

    How the latest advances in workflow are impacting the world of dental implants — and the job of dental labs.

    It’s an exciting time in dentistry: The abundance of technologies and software available to professionals in the industry drastically improves the workflow for clinicians and manufacturers, both individually and as partners in the process.

    The digital workflow is becoming more visible every day in practices and laboratories across the country, and technicians are grateful. It’s the lab side that’s been a proponent of the digital workflow from the beginning, investing in and practicing with CAD/CAM years before their dental partners, and it’s that experience that makes them a valuable partner in the digital implant workflow.  

    “The technologies have improved significantly in the last five years,” says Jason Atwood, DT, CDT, senior digital solutions adviser at Core3dcentres NA. “The biggest advantage is that we’re able to offer more every day.”

    Read more: 8 emerging technologies that will change the dental laboratory

    Atwood, who used to work as a technician in the implant department at Aurum Ceramic, is now responsible for educating dental technicians on new products and technologies and integrating those systems into the digital workflow. He believes that up-and-coming technologies expand possibilities without making sacrifices on quality.

    “The consistency and repeatability are really where the biggest gains have been,” he says.

    “I think the software has gotten much better in enabling better designs,” says Mark Ferguson, general manager of Vulcan Custom Dental in Birmingham, Alabama. “On top of that, the manufacturing has also gotten better. You’re getting more accurate parts out of what you’re designing.”

    Ferguson believes that certain technologies such as 3D printing have disrupted the workflow between dentists and labs.

    “It has enabled a more digital workflow,” he says. “For dentists and labs that want to be in that environment, there’s easier communication through 3D PDFs, STL viewers and things like that. It’s as easy as sending an email when you have some of the software in place.”

    It’s the ease of communication that provides a huge leap forward in what, for many technicians and dentists, is increasingly becoming a vital part of their business: implant cases.

    “In many ways, implant abutments are the easiest cases to do digitally because you get the most benefit from a more streamlined workflow like through split file design for instance,” Ferguson says.

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