Closer Look: Offering Better Crowns in a Single Visit

Dental Products Report, Dental Products Report February 2022, Volume 56, Issue 2

This Oregon dentist experienced a boost in his practice even during the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to the in-office mill from Glidewell.

During the COVID-19 pandemic that shuttered dental practices throughout the US in early 2020, Oregon dentist Joshua Prentice, DDS, was left short-staffed when one of his assistants decided to leave dentistry.

But looking back now, Dr Prentice has little trouble putting a positive spin on things. As he attempted to keep things going strong at his practice, even while down an assistant, he turned to in-office milling—and the results have been startling.

Dr Prentice purchased the in-office mill from Glidewell and quickly learned that he could perform more dental procedures in less time, even as his team went from 5 members to 4 members (1 assistant, 2 hygienists, and an office manager). After the 2-month shutdown caused by the pandemic, the practice reopened with the new mill in place. Initially, the practice schedule was approximately 60% of the prepandemic mark, and after a couple weeks it rose to the 80% mark.

It was then that Dr Prentice discovered just how valuable his was. The practice was thriving at new levels, even with the challenges of reduced staffing and appointments.

“Because we had in-office milling and it eliminated all the crown seat appointments we were still able to produce the same amount of dentistry with fewer patients physically in the office per day,” he explains.

Instead of a 1-hour crown appointment and then a 40-minute seat appointment, the practice scheduled 2-hour appointments where they would make and deliver the crown in a single visit. He says his average number of patients went from around 14 down to 8, but he’s excited to report that revenues did not drop.

An added bonus was the ease at which he was able to track this progress as Glidewell provides the practice with detailed reports.

Having worked with CEREC previously right out of dental school, Dr Prentice was familiar with the Dentsply Sirona CAD/CAM solutions and even today works with the Primescan intraoral scanner. But when it came time to purchase a mill after he moved to Oregon to open a solo practice, he chose the In-Office Solution because of its lower price, its integration with a variety of scanners—including the Primescan—and because he was already a fan of Glidewell materials, including their BruxZir crowns.

Another selling point was Glidewell’s satisfaction guarantee. Dr Prentice admits he initially felt a return was possible since he worried about the system’s quality because it was so low in price.

But the opposite happened. The practice liked it so much that it added a second machine to use when the first one was getting serviced, and has since added a third unit.

“What happened was, at the end of 90 days, they give you these monthly reports and we found out that we had done 120 crowns in-office,” he says.

And it wasn’t just the quantity, but the quality of the crowns’ margins and fits also stood out. Early on in this CAD/CAM journey, the practice would scan a crown, send it off to Glidewell and also then mill a crown in-office to compare. When the patient returned, they would try both crowns and the results were nearly identical, Dr Prentice says.

The is the only in-office system that can mill fully sintered zirconia. This added bonus means no firing step is required.

Eliminating the firing process is key, Dr Prentice says. As one crown is being milled, the team can be prepping another for the next patient.

Response has been overwhelming, as many patients are so excited about this process that they’re requesting multiple crowns be milled in-house in the same office visit. That is why they now have and use 3 systems in the Ponderosa Dental Center.

“It’s a great product that the patients love,” he says. “We had our best year ever this past year and on average we were working at 80% of the capacity that we used to be at.”