DENTSPLY SmartSourcing through Compartis provides digital restorative support for the dental labs of today

February 8, 2013
David Avery, CDT
David Avery, CDT

Issue 10

The digitization of numerous dental laboratory processes has made the world much smaller and to some extent, leveled the playing field among laboratories.

The digitization of numerous dental laboratory processes has made the world much smaller and to some extent, leveled the playing field among laboratories.

In my world, the large laboratory operation, we constantly evaluate developing technology to stay ahead of the curve. We find it preferable to own technology and to maintain the highest level of control. However, this preference certainly comes at a significant operational cost. Outsourcing provides a convenient, inexpensive way to “test drive” manufacturing capabilities without a large capital investment.

Most laboratories, however, can leverage existing investments by suppliers and even other laboratories to access technology and advanced materials on demand. This enables us as technicians to meet a very high percentage of our dentist customer needs and access expertise on an as needed basis. In short, we are able to focus on our strengths, and rely on trusted partners for their expertise. It is of note that this isn’t a new business strategy. Dentists have long since outsourced most implant, prosthetic and orthodontic operations to us. In turn, surveys reveal that many laboratories partner with other labs and central manufacturing services for an increasing percentage of cases.

At this stage of development, digital technology can be predictably and profitably used to provide consistently excellent internal adaptation of any fixed prosthesis, as well as cast Removable Partial Denture (RPD) frameworks. In the following sections, I describe some laboratory outsourcing options available through DENTSPLY Compartis that have been successful for Drake Precision Dental Laboratory.

DENTSPLY Compartis®
With the need for the large, up front investment in capital equipment, labs can now seamlessly offer new services at competitive pricing. The beauty of the service lies in the fact that you still retain ultimate control when sending Cercon® art, or open architecture .stl files, to Compartis. Compartis delivers zirconia full-contour units and substructures, as well as precious and non-precious metal frameworks, precisely to your designs within 3 business days of file approval.

All-ceramic substructures
Yttria stabilized zirconia is the strongest and toughest all-ceramic option available to laboratories today. The high sintering shrinkage of the material necessitates the use of CAD/CAM technology to process this material. Services such as DENTSPLY Compartis zirconia structures allow labs to access this material option with complete control of CAD design.

Open architecture capability allows DENTSPLY Compartis® to receive files from any scanner that produces .stl files, in addition to Cercon® art scans. The scan data is then used by the milling equipment to produce single unit copings or up to 8-unit bridges to the exacting specifications provided, in choice of 16 highly popular shades.

Launched December 2011, full contour zirconia restorations are now available through Compartis. With enhanced translucency, Cercon® ht full-contour zirconia restorations are made of yttria stabilized zirconia (Y-TZP) and provide outstanding strength and esthetics, ideal for full-contour posterior restorations. They are also used in fabricating frameworks for fixed prosthetic restorations. The material has been proven to offer very low wear to the antagonist, even in comparison with clinically proven PFM veneering ceramics and other glass ceramics.

Restorations and frameworks are individually fabricated to your digital design specifications, such as anatomic shape, framework wall thickness and connector diameter or cementing gap.

Depending on the design, Cercon® ht frameworks can be veneered with ceramics or inserted as fully anatomical restorations. With fully anatomic restorations, no space is required for the ceramic veneer, which may allow the dentist to preserve more of the natural tooth structure. My experience has been that dentists appreciate the conservative tooth preparation protocol.

Non-precious metal substructures
With the skyrocketing PM prices, non-precious alloy provides an economical restorative option for dentists and their patients. Compartis NP, manufactured with state-of-the-art SLM industrialized technology, ensures consistent quality and fit accuracy. The biocompatible and corrosion-resistant Cobalt Chromium alloy used at Compartis offers a full range of options for non-precious crown and bridge cases, from single-unit copings to bridges of up to 14 units. Using the Compartis® NP service offers the peace-of-mind support of DENTSPLY’s CAD/CAM technology expertise.

Precious metal substructures
Even in this highly escalated precious metal market, Precious Metal (PM) substructures provide unique, lifelike restorative characteristics and are still favorably prescribed by some clinicians. Yet, significant savings and cash flow benefits can be realized through the elimination of precious alloy inventory. The use of a 3Shape Dental System™ (3Shape A/S), Dental Wings® (Dental Wings Inc.), or Cercon® eye (DENTSPLY) scanners provide the laboratory with the opportunity to scan the master cast, design the substructure to their specifications, and outsource the single-unit or up to 6-unit bridge design for fabrication. NOTE: 3Shape Dental System™ and Dental Wings® are not trademarks of DENTSPLY International, Inc.

Services, such as Compartis® PM, among others, offer high-precision, CAD-designed, 3D wax printed cast copings, in a range of premium yellow high noble, high noble, high palladium noble and premium silver noble alloys, as well as a crown and bridge alloy for full-contour restorations. For labs that want to offer high quality C&B services, but do not desire the excessive overhead of carrying PM alloy, subcontracting is a viable, intelligent business decision.

Implant suprastructures
The dynamic growth in oral implantology during the past few years has expanded the opportunities for custom milled, implant-supported restorations. As this growth continues, it offers exciting new opportunities for better patient solutions and streamlined lab production processes.

The Compartis® ISUS product line includes CAD/CAM bars of any design and fixed detachable frameworks milled from Titanium or for higher strength requirements, Cobalt Chrome (CoCr). The CoCr material is also available for ceramic substructures for multiple-unit, implant-supported restorations. You can receive the completed structure, fit to the model and ready to send to your customers, within 9 to 10 business days (7 from lab design approval). The use of CoCr alloy is a significant cost reduction compared with hand-fabricated, cast precious alloy. CoCr is compatible with Titanium implants, which eliminates concerns of electrolytic reactions associated with other cast base alloys. A ceramic material, such as Ceramco® 3 with a compatible CTE, is optimal. What we’ve appreciated about Compartis ISUS services is that, with a simple production sequence, perfect-fitting suprastructures are delivered-the first time-reliably.

Conclusion
As illustrated in this overview, DENTSPLY SmartSourcing™ through Compartis provides a broad variety of digital restorative support for the contemporary dental laboratory. The rapidly developing technology sector continues to provide optimum clinical results with greatly improved efficiency at reduced operating costs.

In a well-adapted business model, companies, such as industry leader DENTSPLY, offer centralized manufacturing using scanning, milling and rapid prototyping through Compartis. This sub-contract service allows dental laboratories to take advantage of current vs. digital technology, which provides the greatest predictability of internal adaptation. Compartis® centralized manufacturing enables technicians to focus on ceramic application and esthetic excellence, while helping the laboratory to improve productivity, manage inventory, and minimize capital investment. That’s a smart way to grow.