3 interview questions that make sense of your CAD/CAM technology investment

February 8, 2013

We have had the chance to interview some of the most qualified, iconic dentists and dental professionals about the key factors they considered before deciding on a CAD/CAM technology investment and how those investments are helping to elevate patient care in their practices.

We have had the chance to interview some of the most qualified, iconic dentists and dental professionals about the key factors they considered before deciding on a CAD/CAM technology investment and how those investments are helping to elevate patient care in their practices.

1. What are some reasons why dental practices are remaining on the sidelines when it comes to CAD/CAM technology?

As part of our E4D Difference Makers Series, Dr. Edward Zuckerberg told us that although CAD/CAM is something dentists have shown interest in, the price tag is usually a major downside from the start.

"They envision pulling out a check and writing it our for that full amount - no one has that money just lying around. But that is a backwards way of thinking about a significant purchase."

Dr. John Flucke, DPR Technology Editor, had this to add: While many doctors have embraced the idea of CAD/CAM, many others are still on the sidelines. I think many doctors, when they think of this product category, think that it requires in-house milling of restorations. However, this product category now also encompasses digital impression systems because they are also a type of CAD/CAM product.

I have both a digital impression system and a CAD/CAM system in my office and we use both, depending on the clinical situation and the time frame involved.

I can say with confidence that these systems are definitely ready for prime time. It’s now a rare occasion when we need to take a physical impression in my office. Our analysis shows that our workflow is better and that we are more productive. Patients also love this type of treatment. Doing away with impressions is one of the things your patients will really love you for!

2. What research goes into a CAD/CAM purchasing decision?

According to Dr. Edward Zuckerberg, he started his research by making time to check out the available CAD/CAM technology up close.

Originally, that meant making a trip out to the local dealer to see a demo of the only system available. At the time, the level of investment required didn’t seem to make sense, but conversations with other users present got him thinking about the potential cost savings. That nugget of interest stayed with him. When his Henry Schein field sales consultant offered a trip to Dallas to check out D4D Technologies and the E4D Dentist System, Dr. Zuckerberg was ready to look again.

“I was tremendously impressed by the employees I met on the trip. They believe in the product, and it shows,” he recalls. “I had great feelings about the company and the product in general , but it also was clear that there had been remarkable improvements in CAD/CAM technology since the last time I’d looked: the ability to do negatives from an impression, no powder and more intuitive software. Once I decided that, clinically, it made sense, I had to be sure that the numbers made sense.”

Dr. Gordon Christensen, founder and director of Practical Clinical Courses and CEO of Clinicians Report, says he prioritizes principles - that a product must be “faster, easier, better and preferably less expensive." These are things all dental professionals can look for and make part of their personal product evaluation.

When it comes to technology, those characteristics are a good place to start, but Dr. Christensen also encourages dentists to look at new equipment through the patient’s eyes to help frame its purpose.

We asked him to lay out some of the main points that could drive greater adoption of CAD/CAM technology.

First – Cost efficiency. Since its introduction in the mid 1980s, the overall cost of implementing CAD/CAM dentistry has come down. Even more importantly, though, with a strong core base of users, there is a model for ROI that makes the initial upfront costs justifiable for nearly any practice.

Second – More user friendly, easier software. The development on this side of CAD/CAM technology is extraordinary. For those dentists who haven’t seen a demo of the E4D Dentist System, Sirona’s CEREC 4.0 or others in the category, it would be wise to arrange a demonstration, visit the companies and see just how far usability in scanning and design has progressed.

Third – Networking and connections. The ability to network and communicate amongst dental professionals, with processes like E4D’s Sky and CEREC’s Connect, dentists and dental laboratory technicians can see and speak the same language.

Fourth – The combining of expertise.  More and more companies are maximizing their capabilities by working together. Enterprising companies like D4D Technologies (E4D Dentist) have partnered with established leaders Ivoclar Vivadent, 3M ESPE and Henry Schein Dental to showcase all that is possible for the modern dental practice.

Last – the assurance that the devices can be financially successful in the practice. The success stories are out there and, believe it or not, they don’t all sound the same. Dentists across the country, in a variety or practice set-ups with divergent patients bases are finding true ROI in their CAD/CAM purchases. Mentors in CAD/CAM mastery are out there, if you and your team are willing to embrace technology - learning and implementing.

3. What innovations do you see coming?

A well-respected speaker and author, Shannon Pace Brinker, CDA, CDD, has been a full-time practicing dental assistant for more than 22 years. We asked her back in early 2012 to share her thoughts on the trends she's most excited about.

SPB: CAD/CAM is going to continue to be huge. There are more and more practices investing in chairside milling as well as intraoral scanners and it is providing team members with a lot of opportunity.

We’re also seeing manufacturers getting smart about giving dentists what they need. The focus used to be on cosmetic. Now, they’re getting back to basics and focusing on what the general practice needs to stay relevant-implants for general dentists, root canals for general dentists.

Manufacturers are seeing that fewer referrals are going to specialists as dentists are trying to keep more in house. So they are adjusting and expanding their product lines to make specialty procedures easier for the GP so they can keep it under one roof.

In the practice we’re fortunate to have an E4D and a CEREC. The ability to have assistants help with the placement of implants by design attention on the experience patients have in their practice and engage patients on a deeper level have an edge because it’s the patients who are making choices about where they spend their money.