3M ESPE: CAD/CAM Guiding Dentistry in New Direction
According to Todd Rutkus, Senior Tech Service Technologist at 3M ESPE, CAD/CAM technology is improving dentistry in three distinct ways. The materials being used are providing superior esthetics, biocompatibility, and strength; the systems themselves are improving ease of use and increasing accuracy; and, finally, the time it takes to produce a restoration is being significantly reduced. As Rutkus says, “Dentistry can be delivered at a much faster rate. The accuracy and speed of CAD/CAM technology have pushed dentistry in a new direction, and have improved and changed many facets of the field.”
A prime example, Rutkus notes, is the combination of 3M ESPE’s Lava™ Chairside Oral Scanner C.O.S., Lava™ Design Software, and what he calls a “new to the world resin nano ceramic”—Lava™ Ultimate Restorative. This combined technology allows clinicians and laboratory technicians to work together as a team to create high-quality restorations. Lava C.O.S. provides superb accuracy in scanning, and Lava Design Software offers exceptional marginal fit in zirconia and other materials.
Rutkus believes that 3M ESPE’s focus on creating innovative materials has enabled the company’s CAD/CAM technology to obtain a solid footing in the field. “We take a leading role when it comes to innovating products. For example, our unique nanotechnology gives our materials an edge in the marketplace,” says Rutkus, who explains that digitally creating the restoration is only one step of CAD/CAM dentistry. “Even after the restoration is made, in the lab or in the dental office, it still needs to be cemented into the mouth, and our cements are on the cutting edge of technology. The quality of 3M ESPE’s materials really sets our CAD/CAM dentistry apart.”
Not only has CAD/CAM changed how clinicians work on restorations, but it has significantly changed the role of the laboratory technician as well, Rutkus points out. “The technician is becoming a different kind of artisan. Now, technicians have to be able to master two worlds—the digital and the physical. Even technicians who traditionally never had a hand in designing restorations are going in that direction, learning new skills and making their labs more marketable.”
While human nature is often reluctant to accept change, investing in CAD/CAM technology will pay off for clinicians and laboratory technicians in the long run, Rutkus believes, because of the speed, quality, and improved esthetics that can be achieved. He admits that purchasing a CAD/CAM system is a significant investment, but notes the cost is coming down. “Going digital can be expensive. However, as more manufacturers have begun producing this technology, the cost of entry has come down significantly. I think that as more companies enter the CAD/CAM market, the costs will start to become more manageable, allowing for more clinicians and laboratories to participate,” he predicts.
3M ESPE ensures that clinicians and laboratories making the transition into CAD/CAM dentistry are well educated and prepared to immediately start incorporating the technology into their practices. 3M ESPE’s sales force and technical service often host “lunch and learns,” hands-on seminars, and study clubs throughout the year. There are also a number of training options available for customers who purchase a Lava System through Jensen Dental.
Rutkus adds that 3M ESPE is also very active in sponsoring seminars and reaching out to key opinion leaders to provide education on the company’s many products and services. “It’s not hard to find education or training from 3M ESPE,” he says. “We offer e-learning modules for Lava users, and even have videos on YouTube.”
Looking ahead, Rutkus says the company will continue to strive to improve its current offerings, upgrading its CAD/CAM software and developing new materials. “3M ESPE prides itself on being very innovative, and we stay on the cutting edge of new materials and technology. We are always pushing the boundaries of what we can do, so expect to see a lot of new developments from 3M ESPE in the next few years.”
3M ESPE Dental Products
3M Center, 275
St. Paul, MN 55144-1000