Real Time ROI: Gold in color not cost – Aurident Inc.'s YX

June 2, 2012
Noah Levine

Issue 6

The lab Located in Modesto, Calif., since opening its doors in the late 1970s, Hamilton Dental Design is a crown and bridge lab that also handles implant cases. The lab currently employs five technicians and two lab assistants.

The lab

Located in Modesto, Calif., since opening its doors in the late 1970s, Hamilton Dental Design is a crown and bridge lab that also handles implant cases. The lab currently employs five technicians and two lab assistants.

The product

Noble, fine-grain YX type IV crown and bridge gold alloy, from Aurident, Inc., is designed as an economical alternative to high noble options. The alloy contains 2% gold, 40% palladium and 25% silver, is copper-free and suitable for use with patients with allergies. With its low specific gravity the alloy allows a greater number of units per ounce than higher gold content alloys. Castings have an esthetically pleasing soft yellow color, and the alloy is tarnish resistant and casts easily. The material’s high strength makes it suitable for all crown and bridge applications.

The results

With a lab located in an area hard hit by the recession and still showing an unemployment rate twice the national average, Hamilton Dental Design owner Mike Hamilton, CDT, has kept his lab healthy by constantly looking for ways to operate the business more efficiently and seeking out the products and materials that can still be profitable in the current economic climate.

Implant cases have been a growth area for Hamilton and all-ceramic restorations now make up approximately 60% of the lab’s crown and bridge business. However, despite those changes, some clinicians and patients still prefer gold crowns and other full contour gold restorations. Those products remain a key part of the lab, and Hamilton said having YX as an affordable noble option is working out really well.

“They want to stay with the gold crown, but they want something less expensive than the regular crown that we had been using,” he said. “We tried this YX metal and it seemed to really fit the bill quite well.”

Hamilton said the lab uses YX for everything from full crowns, onlays and custom cast abutments. When a doctor asks for a high noble crown, he’ll often suggest they switch to the YX alloy to provide a more economical option to their patients, and Hamilton said a majority of his clients see the benefit in switching, which has helped his lab through the recession.

“Through these kinds of cost saving efforts we’ve been able to tough it out,” he said. “These kinds of alloys are very needed in our industry right now.”

But as economical as any alloy can be, it’s not worth using if it doesn’t provide the results clinicians and patients want through a process that works for the lab. On both of those points, Hamilton said YX delivers.

The color is close enough to a high noble alloy to please the dentists and their patients, and Hamilton said clinicians also like how easily YX crowns and onlays burnish.

YX has been in use at Hamilton’s lab for close to 2 years, and it’s become one of his go to materials, Hamilton said. The alloy casts well, doesn’t exhibit any porosity problems and has proven to be a helpful tool for his technicians and clients.

“The fit and the finish when it’s all done is really nice,” Hamilton said. “It has enough silver content in the alloy that it just polishes really nice. It fits nice when the casting’s done too. It’s not like you have to manipulate it after the casting, because it fits.”

Workability and esthetics are important, but in the end, the economics need to work out for any material to be useful in a dental lab. Even with the growing popularity of all-ceramic options, Hamilton believes having a reliable alloy for full-contour work will always be a necessity for a lab focused on fixed restorative work. For now, he’s very happy to have YX as that alloy.

“For a crown and bridge lab like we are, the metal expense is unbelievably difficult to stay ahead of, especially considering the recession,” he said. “This YX has been a very good metal. It just works out really great. We’ve been real happy with it. It’s a good alternative.”