The tough questions redefining dentistry

Sven Nonboe of 3Shape explains how digital tools are shaping the industry, and what dental professionals need to know about the years to come.

There’s no doubt digital dentistry has already changed how dental professionals work. But what will it do to their workflow in years to come? We spoke with 3Shape’s Sven Nonboe about the future of digital dentistry, what tough questions technicians and dentists need to answer and what kinds of innovations are just around the corner. Here’s what he told us: 

What’s your background and how did you come into the dental world?

I’m a master of science; I used to work as a software developer. I joined 3Shape about eight years ago, and have been a product manager ever since, trying to understand what are the needs of the customers, and how we can take those needs and find a good solution to those, obviously in close cooperation with our developers to deliver the best products possible.

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How has going digital helped labs and dentists?

When I first started we could see that many Western labs were really struggling, keeping up with prices from low-cost countries. We could see the quality in the products that were delivered from those low-cost [options] could have been better. The labs were struggling, and the dentists were not all that happy. We could see that we could really come in and make a change for the better. What we’ve done since is we have automated a lot of the work, and we made it more precise. We made it easier, we made it higher quality all around. I’m really pleased to see that many of those cases that used to go abroad are now being handled locally by some of the local labs, providing better prices and higher quality to the benefit of not only the labs and dentists, but also obviously to the patients, which is the final goal.

With 3Shape already having orthodontics and dentures in its system, what do you see as the next thing that’s now possible with the digital workflow that maybe 10 years ago no one thought would be?

With full dentures, which is now supported in Dental System, we kind of cover the last missing indication. There is also a big, big trend to go monolithic with materials that look really great and that have different shades in the materials. So I think there’s a lot coming from a material and a production point of view, not so much on new indications.

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Speaking as someone who works on the CAD/CAM side, how do you think it’s possible that scanner, and even milling manufacturers, can keep up with all the material trends?

We do a lot of in-house development and we constantly say, “OK, how can we take it a step further, how can we innovate.” The last big innovation we had in lab scanners was that we introduced the D-2000 where you can have both the upper and lower. You can scan the whole case just in one operation.