Design smiles, improve communication in minutes

June 2, 2015

Officially launched at IDS 2015, Planmeca Romexis Smile Design allows dentists to design new smiles using a simple 2D facial smile photo and intelligent teeth silhouettes.

Officially launched at IDS 2015, Planmeca Romexis Smile Design allows dentists to design new smiles using a simple 2D facial smile photo and intelligent teeth silhouettes.

The software enables a workflow that is characterized by its ease of use. In only a matter of minutes, dentists can design a smile with just a few clicks.

Helianna Puhlin-Nurminen, vice president of digital imaging and applications division at Planmeca in Finland, recently shared her thoughts with DPR on the software’s development process and its many features.

Additionally, Dr. Gary Severance, CMO of E4D Technologies, explains how this new software can help all clinicians.

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The beginning
“This was a relatively fast development,” Puhlin-Nurminen said. “We started

developing the new Smile Design software more than one year ago. It is built on the Romexis platform, which has more than 100,000 users who currently use it to view 2D and 3D X-ray images.”

Puhlin-Nurminen said the Planmeca network is expansive, distributing products to more than 120 countries.

Planmeca knows how important feedback is to the development process and often receives it from a variety of clinicians, clinics and lab techs, all of which get taken into account for when updating current products or designing new ones.

“With so many customers speaking so many languages, it was only necessary to translate the software into various languages,” Puhlin-Nurminen said.

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Filling a need
Because every dentist is involved in esthetics, Planmeca realized there was a great need for a software program that could quickly and easily design smiles. The results allow for improved communication with patients and labs, which can also help increase patient acceptance.

“When we started, we realized there was a need, and then we found some clinicians and dental technicians that were willing to help us develop this product together,” Puhlin-Nurminen said. “We visited the clinics to observe their workflow and understand how they were doing things before having something like Smile Design to work with.”

After observing the workflow processes at these clinics, Planmeca started developing the software with plans to improve efficiency.

What makes this special?
One feature of this new product compared to existing Planmeca products is that the Smile Design software does not require any Planmeca equipment. It is based on 2D photos, which clinicians can capture with a camera or a smartphone.

“It is purely a software product so users don’t have to have Planmeca X-ray equipment nor CAD/CAM equipment,” Puhlin-Nurminen said. “Smile Design opens the door for just about anyone to use.”

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This also represents a big change for the delivery of the new software.

“Now we have a product that can be easily downloaded from the web,” she said. “Everything is easily accessible and can be used right away without investing in any hardware.”

An aid for all dentists
Puhlin-Nurminen said the product can help all dental practices and labs.

“It is great for any dentist who is working on improving esthetics,” she said. “And, to some degree, every dentist falls into that category.”

“This tool is easy to use, and you really can design a smile in just a matter of minutes,” Puhlin-Nurminen said. “We’ve noticed that it is not only used by the specialists at the clinics but also by dentists who want to increase treatments, get patients more involved or encourage patients to seek treatment.”

At the very least, practices can use Smile Design with 2D photos to educate patients by quickly showing them and their family members how an improved smile will look on their own faces -this is only one of many features in the software’s long list of capabilities.

“There are many different levels of involvement with Smile Design, but the first level is patient education and communication,” Puhlin-Nurminen explained. “You take a 2D photo, design the smile and that’s basically it! There are customers and dentists who use the software solely for that.”

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But the software comes with so much more.

“Then, of course, you can take it a step further,” she added. “When the patient is ready, you can move forward with the treatment. At this time, the dentist normally communicates with the lab to share the patient case with the design and photos via our cloud service that is integrated into the software.”

This vastly improves communication with the lab as many times when the lab is designing the teeth, the technician never gets a chance to see the patient’s face. With Smile Design, the data is easily available and opens the door up for this opportunity.

Finally, CAD/CAM users can fully utilize all of the product’s features, according to Puhlin-Nurminen.

“They can design in 2D and, with one click, export the design to 3D.  From there, they can create the 3D design and then use the milling machine to complete the restoration,” she said. “There are many different ways of using Smile Design-while many are using it for its full potential, others are using it exclusively for patient education.”

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What Planmeca noted after visiting these clinics was that it was common to use mock-ups that normally required at least two visits before the patient even had a clear idea of how they would look after treatment. With Smile Design, this process is simplified, which can lead to quicker and better case acceptance.

“With Smile Design, you can quickly give the patient and dentist an idea of the end result without doing too much work with the mock-ups,” Puhlin-Nurminen said.

Dr. Severance agrees that the software’s benefits are numerous. He says its ease of use makes it quick and simple to educate patients, communicate with labs and can even help educate and excite the dental team.

“With this software, I can do several things,” he said. ““I can show the patient the before and after photos on the computer screen and say, ‘Here’s what modern dentistry can do.’  I can then print both images out and hand it to the patient as he or she walks out to create a calling card without me having to do too much.”

The software also integrates easily with CAD/CAM programs.

“The beauty of it is you can also go into CAD/CAM (programs), add teeth or save JPEGs to the cloud; if I send it to the lab, it can be quickly exported to CAD/CAM and have the exact layout. All it does is just sits on top of the software,” Dr. Severance said.

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Added benefits
Using the software improves workflows and therefore saves time.

“That is very critical as dentists’ time is money,” Puhlin-Nurminen said. “When you want to introduce a new product or software for them to use and work into their workflow, it has to be really easy and helpful. As they get busier, dentists end up not using anything that doesn’t allow them to be more efficient and productive.”

It is this fact that helped the Planmeca R&D team realize just how successful this product could be.

“That was when we were finally convinced about this idea because the doctors used this mock-up approach at all of the clinics that we visited,” she said. “That meant it was a very useful tool even at the beginning when it was not quite ready (to launch). Within a few minutes of  watching them use the software, we learned that Smile Design could help them tremendously- not to mention the fact that we were delivering it through our website, which made it that much easier.”

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Planmeca boasts more than 500 dealers globally, and even with the website delivery of the Smile Design software, both outlets will play a vital role in educating the industry about the software and its benefits.

“We have 100,000 existing software customers, and we will reach out to all of them about upgrading their software to add this module,” Puhlin-Nurminen said.

The software can be easily integrated with current Romexis users who may be working with CBCT and CAD/CAM technologies.

“They are very happy about it because now they can have all of their photos in the same place where they have their CAD/CAM and X-ray photos,” she said. “While that is just one group, we also care about those potential customers who do not have any Planmeca equipment yet. This could be the first Planmeca product that revolutionizes their practice with which they may think about moving to CAD/CAM or 3D later.  At that point, it would be very easy to because the software base is already there.”

The Planmeca software is all built on the same platform -you can buy Smile Design exclusively, add other modules later, or you can even use Smile Design with other manufacturers’ equipment for those purposes.

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