What 2017 holds for technology in dentistry


We asked manufactures and innovators how technology will change dentistry in 2017. Here’s what they told us.

Technology has long been a force for change in dentistry. Think back 20, 10 or even just five years ago-the industry looked drastically different, and day-to-day work involved tasks that have since been replaced by processing power and some clicks.

At Digital Esthetics, we cover all the ways that technology continues to change the dental industry. And often, that includes products, software or new workflows that revolutionize what dentistry can do. With that in mind, with this issue-both a look back at 2016 and a look ahead to 2017-we wanted to hear from many of the players who make those new solutions.

We asked all of them the same question: “How will technology change dentistry in 2017?”. We hope it gives you a glimpse into what’s to come, and helps you think through some of the opportunities to come in the next 12 months. So with that, here’s what they told us. 

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3M Oral Care

Every technology we develop for the industry needs to be directed at helping dental professionals practice better, easier and faster. That’s nothing new; however, defining what is “better” can be a subjective question. Successful technology in the dental practice will be, to some extent, defined as helping provide better patient engagement. It will assist in elevating the patient experience by bringing them into the decision-making process in a way that makes sense to them. Technology will help patients feel more informed and empowered to make the best decisions and accept the best treatment. 

-Karen Burquest // global business leader for 3M’s Digital Oral Care Business

Amann Girrbach

The “automatization” of single crown restorations will carry on. Based on the rapidly growing penetration of intraoral scanners, model-free, super-quick CAD/CAM workflows and the availability of the respective materials, these kinds of restorations will move more and more into the office of the clinician. Digitalization and the incredible economies of scale of huge outsource milling centers will further drive down prices of single-crown restorations in zirconia, especially taking the rise of multi-layered zirconia with a minimum of manual labor involved into account. Dental laboratories will need to focus on complex, high-income restorations like full mouth restorations on implants and provide respective consulting to their clients in order to differentiate themselves from pure production centers.

-Christian Ermer // Head of Global Product Management at Amann Girrbach


Dental technology has already changed by leaps and bounds over the past decade. Now that scanners, software and milling machines have come of age it’s time for 3D printing to be featured front and center. 2017 will be particularly exciting as we see more labs investing in a new crop of affordable desktop 3D printers that have recently become available to our industry. We will also see further progress with alternate 3D printing technologies such as fused filament fabrication and powder bed fusion. With new technologies will come new materials and new possibilities for what can be fabricated with digital manufacturing.

-Justin Marks // CEO, Arfona LLC

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I believe technology will continue to drive the development of new and improved products and services throughout 2017, lowering the barrier to entry and encouraging increased adoption throughout dental laboratories nationwide. The laboratory will benefit through expanded product offerings and increased profitability. Technology will also allow the laboratory to become a consultant to their dentists, helping to plan the restoration process from the beginning; thus improving efficiency, quality and lowering costs, resulting in a better experience for the patient.

- Michael Clark // Argen Corp., SVP Domestic Sales

Aurident, Inc.

The dental industry is experiencing rapid change driven by a variety technological of economic and educational factors. Historically, the best material for dental prosthetic restorations for reliability and durability has always been noble metal based alloys. With the aging patient base, the denture marketplace is also experiencing increased growth. Market trends have shifted to lower cost manufacturing including digital scanning and fabrication as well as less expensive materials, e.g., zirconia. Educationally, dental schools place less emphasis on the material aspects of dental prosthetics and promote digital restorations especially since the largest digital manufacturers freely provide equipment and materials. These trends require dental laboratories to move toward adapting digital dentistry and machineable materials such as those offered by Aurident, Inc. For more assistance, call Aurident at 800-422-7373.

- Bruce Spivack // Sales & Product Manager, Aurident, Inc.


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In 2017, the denture market will continue to grow by approximately 2.5 percent. Digital denture technology has evolved from its infancy to maturity. As conventional denture production capacity is decreasing, digital technology will be the major driver to meet the growing market demand. CAE (Computer Aided Engineering) provides the algorithms that are needed to manufacture true digital dentures, from impression scanning to computer aided manufacturing, deductive or additive. AvaDent Digital Denture technology offers dental professionals a versatile digital workflow with multiple entry levels that fit their business model and enable them to deliver digital dentures with unique product benefits to the patient. 


Faster, less expensive computer technology enables enhanced, more robust and easier-to-use open-source software and intraoral scanner technology, making it easier for the clinician to acquire and implement a digital-dental manufacturing solution. Adopting a digital workflow will allow doctors to collaborate with their laboratories to more effectively review and plan cases in real-time, eliminating old manual, trial-and-error techniques. More sophisticated additive and subtractive manufacturing systems together with advancements in dental materials will enable doctors to minimize patient chair time and reduce costs while allowing the clinician to quickly and profitably provide a wider range of high-quality product offerings with increased clinical benefits and greater esthetics.

-Steven Braykovich // Axsys

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Dentistry is in the middle of a sea change; consolidation, shifting demographics and other factors are forcing the profession to evolve. Technology will play a central role-but will it be more portable, affordable and easy to implement? Look for technology providers to pioneer smaller, valuable and indispensable new tools. 

-John Bernhard // Director of Product Development, BIOLASE, Inc.


Today, the vast majority of dental crowns prescribed in North America are monolithic. Until now, lithium disilicate (LD) has been prescribed by many as the standard of care, with adequate strength and “good enough” esthetics. In fact, through many tedious analog manufacturing processes, monolithic, monochromatic LD has led the market. More recently, companies (Amann Girrbach and Noritake) have developed far more esthetic multi layered, multi shaded zirconia discs that facilitate CAD/CAM manufacturing. These new materials are stronger, more esthetic, less costly and require much less labor for fabrication. In conclusion, the tipping point for esthetics and strength of CAD/CAM fabricated restoration has evolved and will play a big role in the coming years.

-Bob Cohen // Executive Director, Product Development & Clinical Education, CAP

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Carestream Dental

Technology in 2017 will make dentistry a lot more exciting and lot easier. Take intraoral scanning, for instance. Because it’s digital, everything just drops into place-I don’t have to worry about the occlusions, the margins, contacts; it’s all designed on a computer, and that’s exciting to me. As for ease-of-use, I’m still astounded by how accurate everything is with my CS 3600 intraoral scanner and how much time it saves me. Plus, the turnaround time from submitting digital impressions to the lab to receiving the final restoration just makes everything so easy. 

-Stephen D. Poss // D.D.S., Poss Dental Designs, Brentwood, Tenn.


There have been companies out there offering chairside digital smile workflows for quite some time; but I believe that 2017 is the year that people will really take notice of what has been tagged as “Emotional Dentistry”. Traditional treatment planning is becoming enhanced by digital technology. The use of photos, videos, and 3D digital mock ups are helping the patient to better visualize their own restorative work. This approach empowers them to take more ownership of the treatment process. The end result becomes a reflection of their own unique personality, enhancing the success of the treatment for all involved.

-Jason Atwood // Advisor: Education, Training and Technical Support, Core3dcentres North America


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Dentsply Sirona

For the past couple of decades, technology has revolutionized dentistry. Now, various technologies are beginning to communicate more with each other to create synergies. For example, dentists and laboratories see improved digital case communication with software like Sirona Connect. Cone beam technology and CAD/CAM integration allows dentists and laboratories to provide better and safer implant dentistry. Including the integration of dynamic TMJ tracking data allows dentists and laboratories to create restorations using live functional data. Dentsply Sirona is in a unique position for innovation and integration to create these overarching dental solutions that enable dentists and laboratories to work closely together to provide better, safer and faster dentistry for their patients. 

-Kassandra Brau // Laboratory CAD/CAM Marketing Manager at Dentsply Sirona

Dentsply Sirona Implants

Specific to implant dentistry, technology can greatly lend to efficiency in coordination and communication amongst treatment team members and patients alike, which ultimately leads to better outcomes. It also allows for simplicity and precision in case planning and assessment so solutions can be best tailored to each patient’s individual needs. Patients desire fewer office visits and reduced treatment times. Leveraging technology allows dental professionals to achieve higher patient satisfaction by meeting those patient expectations while increasing productivity in their practice/business, without compromise to reliable, long-term, results. For this reason, as Dentsply Sirona Implants, we are committed to innovation, improving clinical outcomes and patient experience to drive better, safer and faster dentistry.  

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2017 will be an exciting year for 3D printing in the dental industry with major advancements in hardware and material. EnvisionTEC is excited to add even more applications to our in-office desktop printer, the Vida, which already is the most versatile 3D printer in the dental market. It’s capable of printing mouth guards to models to waxups. Some of those new applications will include the first-ever printed flexible indirect bonding trays. On the lab side, our new Vector and Vector Hi-Res will be able to print 20 models in two hours for Crown & Bridge and Ortho models.

ETI Digital Technology

Digital Technology is just touching the surface of dentistry. New technologies that can be expected to launch in 2017 include laser milling, facial scanning, faster sintering and bio-compatible milling materials (milled and seated within an hour). Dentists are becoming more inclined to intraoral scanning and doing single-unit cases in their dental practices, thanks to improved materials that provide them more advantages with faster turn-around time. However, even with technology, the laboratory will still receive all cases such as long-span bridges, anteriors, removables and implant cases. Technology in 2017 will provide better patient care and improved communication between labs and dentists.

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Restorative Dentistry is evolving from a manual labor into a digital data knowledge-based industry. This evolution started with digital scanning (chamber, CBCT, intraoral and impression) starting to feed massive amounts of digital data into a growing lab-based CAD/CAM industry. Now, clinicians want fewer errors, faster turnaround and improved quality of care based on digital workflows. With expanding choices and rapidly declining costs for chairside CAD/CAM systems and materials, clinicians are searching for the best solutions they can deploy today. Labs should promote themselves as digital business partners to their customers, offering open, cooperative CAD/CAM solutions and consulting.

-Larry Bodony // exocad


Formlabs believes that desktop 3D printing will democratize dentistry, be a key driver in growing the adoption of digital dentistry, and advance patient care by introducing solutions that enable personalized surgical planning and mass customization. It will allow applications never seen before in the desktop 3D printing space, such as high-precision drill guides from digital scan data for implant surgeries. Dental professionals can now move from a 3D model to a directly printed surgical guide at a quick turnaround and a tremendously affordable price, and have the ability and access to develop incredibly precise tools for surgical applications.

- Dávid Lakatos // chief product officer at Formlabs


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Heraeus Kulzer

Technology will continue to develop both in sophistication and in specific application to bring to bear safer, more predictable clinical solutions that allow dental professionals the opportunity to deliver better, more effective treatment solutions while helping drive down, in certain areas, the escalating costs of oral health care. At Kulzer Dental, our vision and, indeed, our absolute focus is to deliver upon the promise of our technologies; namely, we aim to help our customers realize significant savings or help them grow their businesses with truly integrated solutions in the form of hardware, software and services wrapped around our outstanding chemistries.

-Chris Holden // President-Heraeus Kulzer


The gigantic progress of computer ability in recent years has enabled creating software and devices that are taking implant dentistry forward in a most significant way. Collaboration between implant producers and CAD/CAM software companies enables users to have computer-designed restorations on implants with accuracy. Computer planning of the position of implants in three dimensions and being able to design and produce a surgical guide accordingly gives the end user safety and accuracy. Cooperation between implant producers and software providers is essential for making the software usable with their the implant products.


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Ivoclar Vivadent

Throughout 2017, we’ll continue to see advancements in restorative materials while the processes surrounding these materials will continue to grow into more integrated and elegant workflows. Technology will drive improved visual case communication between the dentist and the dental laboratory to result in greater predictability for patient-specific esthetic outcomes. Further, hardware and software will simplify the decision making for restorative material type, shade and translucency. Importantly, it’s not only technology that will change dentistry in 2017, it’s the people. Deeper relationships with the right manufacturers or distribution partners for technology implementation will be a prerequisite for successful change.

-Dr. Michael Gaglio // SVP Marketing & Digital Communications, Ivoclar Vivadent

Komet USA

When you hear the word “technology,” you initially think about big equipment like lasers. But it’s important to remember that technology is driven by the little things we do every day. When I graduated from dental school, we had two filling materials: gold and amalgam, inert metals that did nothing to help healing. Today, we have filling materials that actually help heal the tooth and make it stronger. With materials getting harder, the continued improvement of diamond burs is more important than ever. Doctors and patients alike benefit from technology, and sometimes it’s the small things that make the biggest difference. 

- Dr. Robert Lowe // Komet

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Kuraray America, Inc.

In light of ever-changing technology, communication channels, expectation management and demanding timelines between the patient, dentist and the laboratory are critical. Advances in digital dentistry and a seamless workflow benefit all involved in the process. Smart and forward-looking material options must support these advances while meeting and exceeding expectations. Kuraray Noritake Dental provides proven, time-tested zirconia solutions to the laboratory with KATANA for single-unit to full-arch; cement and bonding solutions with PANAVIA V5 and PANAVIA SA Cement Plus for the dentist; and consistent, strong and esthetic outcomes that make patients happy to smile.

-Lawrence Zeno // Sr. Lab Sales Manager/National Accounts, Dental Division, Kuraray America, Inc.


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Magic Touch Software

Working with a number of labs around the world, I’ve found labs are focusing on innovative ways to help their staff with the day-to-day lab operations. One way is with the use of advanced technology and the right software solutions. I’ve seen labs create efficient lab environments with the ability to automate customer relations and real-time case management, tasking and scheduling. Most importantly, customer service is what will separate a lab from their competitors. Labs using digital technology are able to provide real-time automated customer services, resulting in retaining customers, acquiring new ones and ultimately growing their business.

-Gary Bagheri // CEO, Magic Touch Software International


Technology will continue to transform dentistry in 2017 by increasing efficiency, which is essential to maintaining a competitive edge in the market. Technology purchased just two years ago has been eclipsed by the current technology in terms of speed, ease of use and versatility. Technology that several years ago was exorbitantly expensive has come down in price, making cutting-edge products more affordable for dental professionals. Holding on to outdated technology that is beyond its ROI greatly inhibits competitiveness, and will ultimately produce negative economic effects, which is why new technology is essential to stay competitive.

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Nobel Biocare

With the evolution of digital workflows in 2017, treatment outcomes and processes will further improve. We’ll continue to see more automation of processes for both clinicians and dental laboratories, and enhanced digital collaboration. The kind of automation we are introducing will enable clinicians and their teams to collaborate more effectively. The goal is to achieve quality treatment according to a three-visit approach-diagnosis, surgery (including provisionalization) and restoration, ensuring that the time spent with the patient is used as efficiently as possible. It is not about counting the seconds when the patient is in the chair; it is about making every second count.

-Dr. Pascal Kunz // Vice President Product Management Digital Dentistry, Nobel Biocare


In the last few years, many labs have decided to change their old procedures to the new digital age. Some labs have changed due to fewer dental technicians available and some to make their lab more profitable. A digital workflow has leveled the ground and helped to make laboratories far more consistent in the products they produce. As our industry gravitates to fully adopt the digital age, traditional procedures are likely to cost themselves out of the market with higher wages, higher medical costs and higher taxes. 

-Matt Tait // Director of Technical Services, Nobilium

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Digital technology is a tool that will allow a decreasing number of technicians to produce more units to meet the increasing demand for Laboratory products and services, especially removable prostheses. Communication between the prosthetic team (Oral Surgeon, Restorative Dentist, Dental Technician) will continue to be streamlined and improved when treatment planning the implant patient. SLM/Additive manufacturing will continue to grow as the benefits of additive versus subtractive manufacturing-increased surface retention, stronger alloys, and more space for veneering resin and teeth-become more understood. Handling non-parallel implants will become simpler for the restorative team. High performance polymers will continue to grow, allowing cost-effective restorations that will push esthetics and strength to their highest limits.

-Chris Bormes // President, PREAT Corporation


Decades ago, the dental industry started its journey into the world of CAD/CAM. It took about 30 years to get where we are now and although the digitally designed restorations are good, hand-made crowns and bridges still have the edge. Within the last year or two there’s been a noticeable change between the two front – digital versus analogue. The fronts have gotten closer to one another. No longer is it one or the other. But the best software is only as good as its operator. We at Renfert have just launched an Expert Wax Set with the help of the opinion leader August Bruguera. This set, with its comprehensive manual, helps technicians learn and develop their skills for creating realistic monolithic, diagnostic or esthetic wax-ups.


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Roland DGA

In 2017, manufacturers will showcase their latest digital technologies at the always important International Dental Show (IDS). Most companies work on development and plan around this bi-yearly event. New CAD/CAM products will be more user-friendly, and systems will be more application-focused. New materials will play the most important role in 2017, and many companies will be showcasing materials that are easier to work with, more esthetic and require less overall bench time when it comes to restoration finishing. There will also be a big push in educating the clinical and lab markets to maximize awareness of these new and improved options.

-Brian Brooks // Group Product Manager, Specialty Systems - Roland DGA


Digital technology is here to stay. It often allows dental professionals to accomplish tasks more quickly and efficiently. This provides us with some new tools with which to answer questions and solve problems. However, the new digital technology does not do everything. And, at the moment, some of the results are not the best. Sometimes traditional methods are not only the best choice, but the only answer. Our challenge in 2017, and beyond, is to properly evaluate the new and the traditional methods and to make the best choice with each case. 

-James T. Ellison // CDT, Technical and Education Department Head, Sterngold Dental LLC.

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The dental industry will see significant advancements with 3D printing within the next five years, and even as soon as the next year or two. More and more dentists are purchasing intraoral scanners every day, which will assist in streamlining the entire digital workflow from dentist to laboratory, eliminating more of the variables for human error. The market is awaiting a number of applications from additive manufacturing, such as night guards, aligners, and other ortho and crown and bridge applications. Tremendous efforts are being poured into material science and developments, and the goal is to see the fruits of that in the near-term.

-Jonathan W. Hill // Director of Marketing, Dental Solutions, Stratasys

Vision Engineering

Advances in digital dentistry are revolutionizing the industry, but the transition from labor-intensive to 100 percent technology-based production is still in its infancy. The skilled dental technician still has an important role to play, and having the tools to help them master their craft, makes all the difference. Procedures of inspection and rework of dental appliances are often carried out under magnification. Therefore, a magnifying device that can provide a realistic, three-dimensional image and true color representation of the subject is imperative. Dental technicians and laboratories worldwide use Vision Engineering’s range of Mantis stereo viewers for this precise application.

Zubler USA

Purchase inquiries to our company seem to be getting more educated. We have seen this with our milling machines, scanners, zirconia, stains and especially sintering ovens. With technicians starting to gain more understanding of the interplay between materials and equipment, the “industry standards” for equipment and materials are starting to form. Which material type or equipment component is better for the industry is being determined. Some standards will probably be set in 2017. However, that being said, now is the time for innovation. While some manufacturers are enjoying the fruits of their labor, new products are in development! 


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