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The CAD/CAM Chorus: Blurring the lines

Issue 1

January 2011 | Dental Lab Products The CAD/CAM Chorus Blurring the lines Dr. Gary Severance – Vice President for Marketing and Clinical Affairs, D4D Technologies by Noah Levine, Senior Editor

January 2011 | Dental Lab Products

The CAD/CAM Chorus

Blurring the lines

Dr. Gary Severance – Vice President for Marketing and Clinical Affairs, D4D Technologies

by Noah Levine, Senior Editor

Right from the start, Dr. Gary Severance, D4D Technologies’ Vice President for Marketing and Clinical Affairs, felt this article had the wrong headline. Sure he believes strongly in the potential of CAD/CAM to continue as a growing force in both the laboratory and operatory, but he thinks that term is too limiting as it doesn’t encompass the full range of diagnostic technologies coming together to reshape the way dental issues are diagnosed, treatments planned and restorations produced.

“I think it’s pretty well understood that it will be a digital form of dentistry. It’s just a matter of how far in the future before everybody accepts it,” he said, mentioning that Digital Dentistry is a more comprehensive term.

In this digital dental world that Dr. Severance sees on the horizon, dentists and labs will continue to work together, probably more closely than ever before, with technology providing the links. D4D’s E4D Chairside CAD/CAM system and other chairside technologies might become more common, but he believes lab technicians will be more involved than ever, working in concert with clinicians on operatory-based systems, even if the technician is not there physically.

The E4D systems already feature a Support On Sight (or SOS) function where D4D support staff can take control of the design happening on a chairside unit, and there’s no reason lab technicians couldn’t provide a similar service, performing the digital design on a chairside unit before sending the restoration to be milled on the chairside mill, with a trained chairside assistant adding the finishing touches.

“Our whole area of looking at dentistry I don’t think we should keep the same boundaries as we do today or did yesterday,” Dr. Severance said. “I think once dentists and dental assistants and dental technicians all speak the same language, the restoration may be touched by all three. If we break down all the perceptions and the barriers and what we thought we knew and look at it fresh, we’re in a pretty good point that what we see in our system is not a compromise at all to what conventional dentistry has offered, and it’s only going to get better from this point on.”

The technology is already there for digital dental technologies to produce restorations that exceed the form, fit and function possible with other production and design techniques, and Dr. Severance said he is very excited about the possibilities that will become apparent as this technology continues to be developed, refined and innovated.

The technology might be capable of bringing the industry closer together, but for now, Dr. Severance believes the development of that technology will happen in just a selectively open way as manufacturers carefully form partnerships to offer expanded capabilities. These steps must be handled with extreme care because of the precision involved creating a dental restoration. Dr. Severance said lab technicians “truly are magicians at getting the restoration to fit” via traditional processes, and if CAD/CAM systems are going to make things easier, they need to eliminate as many variables as possible. Completely open systems simply let too many variables back into the mix.

“I don’t really see a totally open system being possible. The quality that we need in dentistry, the quality that technicians are providing us is measured in microns,” he said.

At D4D the goal is to allow clinicians to digitize the patient as much as possible to spot disease early, plan optimized treatments, design the ideal restoration in terms of fit, function and esthetics, and track the results over time. In this new digital landscape, dentists will still need to turn to trusted lab partners for a range of services, so now is a great time for everyone to start finding their places in the digital dental landscape.

“Diagnosis is key and treatment planning from that is the foundation,” Dr. Severance said. “It’s going to bring everybody closer, it’s going to redefine people’s roles, but there’s always going to be a need to create something to either stop the disease or prevent a disease. I think more labs are seeing this and embracing it. I think those who are open to the technology, looking for opportunities and to work closer with dentists in different media is a wonderful thing for everyone involved, especially the patient.” 

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