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Inside Dentistry
July 2024
Volume 20, Issue 7

You Get Out What You Put In

The adoption of technology to improve practice is not a new phenomenon in dentistry. However, in the beginning, digitalization had more of an effect of upgrading our existing processes, such as transitioning us from using film to digital radiographs. But more recently, the explosion of newly available technologies is completely transforming our approaches and workflows, enabling us to deliver better outcomes for our patients and also improving our efficiency and profitability.

This transformative effect is perhaps most noticeable in our more complex workflows. In this month's special issue on technology, a case report by Tawil and colleagues exemplifies many of the cutting-edge technologies that can be incorporated into a full-arch rehabilitation. For example, the merging of intraoral scan data with facial scan data permits a more comprehensive analysis of the relationships for smile design than the use of photographs, and the use of elongated scan bodies enables the edentulous arch to be scanned with high accuracy. The case also demonstrates the use of 3D printing to produce an immediate provisional restoration. Traditionally, we would have to retrofit an existing denture or have a provisional prosthesis milled by a laboratory. But here, the FP1-style provisional prosthesis is designed and printed right in the office, immediately delivering esthetics and helping to create a proper emergence during the healing phase.

Although newly available dental technologies are exciting, and many of them hold great promise in improving outcomes, their adoption requires not only the appropriate education to use them but also that the dentist using them has the appropriate foundational clinical education to support their use. Intraoral scanning, digital design, and guided surgery have revolutionized implant treatment, but buying an intraoral scanner, a design suite, and a 3D printer doesn't qualify you to start placing implants. The technology has become very advanced, but it is still only as good as the dentist using it. As you'll learn in this month's CE, with artificial intelligence, the output is only as good as the input, which is driving the push for transparent algorithms. The same could be said for the use of all digital dental technologies. If you don't put the hard work into mastering the clinical dentistry, you won't get the results you want out of the technology you implement!

Robert C. Margeas, DDS
Editor-in-Chief, Inside Dentistry
Private Practice • Des Moines, Iowa
Adjunct Professor
Department of Operative Dentistry
University of Iowa • Iowa City, Iowa

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