Exclusive interview with Sirona's Michael Augins

March 21, 2012

  In the February 2012 issue of Dental Products Report, we featured Michael Augins in our 10 Questions profile. Augins had more information and comments than we could fit in print, so here we offer up the full interview.  1. Sirona has the distinction of introducing CAD/CAM to dentistry more than 25 years ago. How did that come about, and what has been its impact on dentistry?

 

In the February 2012 issue of Dental Products Report, we featured Michael Augins in our 10 Questions profile. Augins had more information and comments than we could fit in print, so here we offer up the full interview. 

1. Sirona has the distinction of introducing CAD/CAM to dentistry more than 25 years ago. How did that come about, and what has been its impact on dentistry?

CEREC® was the brainchild of Dr. Werner Mörmann, a professor at the University of Zurich. What he did was take technology that was being used in virtually every sector of manufacturing and adapt it to the dental practice. Doing so enabled the dentist to act as a “clinical engineer” who had complete control of the design and manufacture of a final restoration. The original CEREC only milled inlays and onlays. Over the years, the process has evolved to the point where, with our 4.0 software, virtually any restoration, including implants, bridges, and multiple restorations, can be created with the CEREC technique. The dentist and patient alike benefit from the greater speed, increased efficiency, reduced costs, and improved quality that CEREC makes possible. CEREC has the distinction of being named the biggest game-changer in dentistry in the past 50 years, illustrating the impact that CEREC has had on our profession.

2. In 2008, Sirona incorporated advanced digital impression technology with the launch of the CEREC AC Bluecam. What was the impact?

CEREC AC powered by Bluecam was a major improvement in both accuracy and ease of use for digital scanning. That’s because the camera’s blue LED light is more powerful and precise than other systems that utilize laser or red LED light. Combine this with the Bluecam camera’s anti-shake feature, and even beginners can take precise digital impressions – even on half and full arches. The introduction of Bluecam technology really helped to reduce the CEREC learning curve.

3. Digital impression technology seems to be gaining traction. How do you expect this to help CAD/CAM dentistry grow and change the way many doctors handle cases?

Digital impression technology is truly a game-changer. It enables dentists to take quicker, more accurate impressions that do not require any impression materials, and it virtually eliminates retakes. With digital impressions, you can also eliminate cost and time for the process, since the impressions can be transmitted globally in seconds. Whether the final restoration is made in the lab or milled in the office, digital impressions offer superior quality and economics. Sirona is committed to leading all aspects of this conversion to digital, and we firmly believe that in the near future the majority of impressions will be taken digitally.

4. Why is CEREC Software 4.0 such an important technology milestone?

CEREC Software 4.0 is a comprehensive re-engineering of the CEREC software platform, which derives the full potential of the CEREC AC Acquisition unit and its Bluecam imaging technology. The synergy of CEREC Software 4.0 and the CEREC AC powered by Bluecam not only makes single-tooth dentistry easier and more precise than ever before, it also enables dentists to transition to multi-tooth dentistry quickly and easily. The increased productivity and efficiency delivered by CEREC Software 4.0 and the CEREC AC makes the CEREC technique faster, more accurate and easier, and additionally is a major bottom-line booster. What’s more, a new, highly intuitive graphical user interface, coupled with multi-tooth simultaneous design, allows a new level of productivity and a vastly reduced learning curve. Together, the new features of CEREC Software 4.0 and the fresh new interface bring the CEREC experience to an entirely new level.

5. Digital impressions also appear to be at the heart of Sirona’s digital dentistry platform. Could you explain?

The CEREC technique has always started with a digital impression. Therefore, every CEREC machine is also a digital impressioning device. In 2010, we began marketing the CEREC AC Connect as the first CEREC device without in-office milling capabilities. This product is targeted to the doctor who wants the benefits of digital impressions, but who is not interested or ready to fabricate those restorations chairside. With the CEREC AC Connect, the dentist simply acquires the digital impression and uploads it via CEREC Connect, the world’s largest digital dental network. CEREC connect provides a web-based portal for the transfer of digital impressions between all CEREC users and their inLab® dental laboratory of choice. The ability to upload to CEREC Connect is an added benefit available to all CEREC customers.

CEREC dentists benefit from digital impressions because they are extremely precise, fast and reliable. Lab owners prefer CEREC digital impressions for similar reasons, and also because there’s no need to compensate, correct or repair digital models due to shrinkage, tearing or other common problems that plague conventional models. Furthermore, by eliminating the physical model, the lab’s cost to produce a restoration is significantly reduced. 

The superior quality and economics of digital impressions are leading to their rapid growth. Nearly 3 million digital impressions per year are taken on CEREC systems in the U.S., and this number is expected to continue to grow for the foreseeable future.

6. How does Sirona help educate dentists on just how well CEREC systems work today and how they can help build a practice?

Since the very beginning, Sirona cultivated a very strong bullpen of certified CEREC trainers who not only know the latest technology inside out; they’ve also been also applying it day-to-day in a real dental practice. Our trainers have an average of 9 years of experience with the CEREC system. 

During their training sessions, they show real examples of CEREC restorations they created for their patients. The fact that they are not merely CAD/CAD theorists has always resonated well with the dentists who attend their training sessions for real answers on how to use the technology and how to build a profitable practice around it.

For those who are in the decision making process, we host a series of CEREC Discovery events at venues across the country. These two-day seminars are conducted by the leading thought leaders in digital dentistry and provide complimentary CE credits. The CEREC Discovery events were designed primarily to help dentists make an informed decision about integrating CAD/CAM and other digital technologies into their practices. For more information on a Discovery event near you, please visit CERECdiscovery.com.

7. While Sirona is known as a leader in CAD/CAM technology, tell us a little about some of the other product offerings.

Although CEREC is a little more than 25 years old, Sirona has been serving the dental market for more than 130 years by providing dental professionals with the tools they need to succeed clinically, while remaining at the forefront of innovation. In addition to dental CAD/CAM systems, our other main product divisions include Treatment Centers, Imaging Systems and Instruments. In the U.S., we are best known as the leader of the digital revolution with our market-leading Schick digital sensors and the number one Cone Beam product on the market today, GALILEOS®.

8. What’s the next big thing?

As a stand-alone technology, Cone Beam Technology (CBT) is pretty amazing. Lower-dose radiation provides increased operator and patient safety, while high-resolution 3-D images enable more accurate diagnosis and more effective treatment planning.

Now, when you integrate CBT with CAD/CAM, you have the foundation of what we believe will be the next big wave in dentistry – computer-guided treatment. A great example of this is what we are doing with dental implants. Specifically, when a dentist combines a GALILEOS digital imaging system with a CEREC machine, he or she has the ability to accurately evaluate a proposed implant site for position, bone mass, etc., and use CEREC data to create a surgical site template and also design and mill custom implant abutments. “CEREC meets GALILEOS” is a great example of how computer-guided treatment will change dentistry, and Sirona will lead the way.

9. Has the economy impacted your business?

I don’t think anyone, or any company, has been immune from the economic slowdown of recent years. However, I think Sirona has continued to grow because we continue to develop products that make the dental practice more productive while delivering a strong return on investment.

As other investment opportunities have become less attractive, we have given dentist the most attractive option possible: the opportunity to invest in themselves and their practices. Practices that invest in technologies such as Schick, CEREC and GALILEOS have outperformed their peers dramatically during these tough times. It is the satisfaction of our owners and their success that has enabled us to grow, despite the macroeconomic headwinds.

10. What’s CEREC 27 and a half?

In 2010, we had more than 3,000 attendees at the CEREC 25th anniversary celebration, and their enthusiasm for our products and the success of the event convinced us to host another anniversary celebration – but we didn’t want to wait a full 5 years for CEREC 30. So we’re celebrating the 27-and-a-half-year anniversary of CEREC with a three-day event at The Venetian Casino and Resort from Aug. 16–18. This event will be the largest CEREC event to date, and will celebrate the significant advancements CEREC has made since turning 25.

During this event, we’ll also commemorate the 20th anniversary of Schick digital radiography, the 10th anniversary of Sirona’s inLabDental Lab CAD/CAM System, and the 5thanniversary of the GALILEOS Digital Imaging System.

A-list speakers will include Dr. Gordon Christensen, Dr. Frank Spear, Rella Chistensen, Andreas Bindl and Imtiaz Manji. CEREC 27 and a half will be geared toward all dental and laboratory professionals, while following our traditional and successful CE event formula, consisting of education, A-list entertainment, networking and fun.

About Michael Augins, President, Sirona Dental Systems, LLC, USA

Michael Augins is the President of Sirona Dental Systems, LLC, a U.S. subsidiary of Sirona Dental Systems, Inc. He is responsible for the sales, marketing, service and support functions of Sirona’s U.S. operations. He has served in this position since 2001. Prior to joining Sirona, Augins was an Engagement Manager with McKinsey and Company. He earned his MBA degree from the Darden School at the University of Virginia, where he earned both the Faculty Award for Academic Excellence and the Genovese Fellowship. Augins is on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Dental Trade Alliance and serves on the Board of Directors of the Open Wide Foundation.