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Oral Arts’ Simplified Fabrication Process Adds Consistency to Restorations
Oral Arts Dental Laboratories—a family-owned business founded in 1970 in Huntsville, Alabama—offers its dental clients a variety of restorative solutions, including indirect restorations, crowns and bridges, prosthetics, and implants. As a Certified Dental Lab, the company has been at the forefront of dental laboratory technology for more than 40 years, continually adjusting its products and procedures to reflect rapidly evolving dental technology.
“Technology has changed,” Matt Winstead, Vice President, says. “New technology leads to new materials and new ways of manufacturing products made from these new materials.”
Oral Arts has been transforming its manufacturing processes to keep up with the changing technology, and Winstead has found that the new methods are saving the company’s clients both time and money, while providing a more consistent product.
He explains that the change in materials alone has resulted in a much lower remake percentage in the company’s products. One material in particular—monolithic zirconia—has reduced remakes associated with porcelain-layered posterior crowns and bridges. With this material, layering of porcelain or using a substructure is not needed to achieve strength or esthetics. With Oral Arts’ BruxZir® Crown, the number of layers required is reduced, which makes the restoration less complicated, which in turn reduces the rate of failure during the manufacturing process.
“Simply put, there are fewer chances for something to go wrong. It’s a simpler product and we are not sacrificing quality or esthetics,” Winstead elaborates.
As materials become more translucent, they also become more esthetic, allowing clinicians to use them for anterior as well as posterior restorations. If the clinician wants further esthetics or translucency in the anterior, Oral Arts can veneer porcelain on the labial surfaces only, leaving the solid zirconia in the lingual and/or occlusal areas for strength and durability.
The new materials go hand-in-hand with the digital capabilities of the laboratory, which Winstead says increases the consistency and accuracy of the product. “There is less of a difference between each crown’s morphology, because a digital library is giving the lab technician a more consistent look.” Winstead notes that the marginal integrity of restorations made from digital scans is superb compared to methods that required technicians to wax casts and finish the margin. Digital technology allows the restorations to be milled to whatever specifications the technician desires.
Winstead explains that with the utilization of model-less cases, laboratories eliminate even more variables associated with impression techniques, stone expansion, and model and die tolerances. He notes that the average remake percentages of digitized impression cases are significantly less than those of traditional techniques. “Digital technology opens a whole new world of accuracy where proximal and occlusal contact pressure is measured in microns on a screen versus judging off the model.”
Looking toward the future, Winstead believes that clinicians must partner with laboratories that are willing to adopt and invest in the latest technology, because these laboratories will have a competitive edge over labs that do not offer these services or outsource them to other facilities.
“Outsourcing production steps causes a loss of control in the top three competitive categories—quality, timeliness, and affordability,” says Winstead, who notes that as more steps are outsourced to other laboratories, more control is lost and the production cost must either be absorbed or passed on to the clinician. “The only way to completely control these variables is to heavily invest in the technology needed to oversee all facets of the production process. In doing so, laboratories ensure clients receive the highest quality possible at the lowest cost in the fastest amount of time.”