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Inside Dentistry
June 2024
Volume 20, Issue 6

Saving Time and Money With Streamlined Denture Conversion

The Neodent® NeoConvert™ technique optimizes the benefits of analog and digital processes

Having completed a general practice residency at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, and practiced in dental offices in four different states, Andrew Phillips, DMD, has seen dentistry done a lot of different ways. But now, splitting his time between building his own multilocation practice in Meridian, Idaho, and Troy, Michigan, and performing full-mouth rehabilitations at an implant practice in Oregon City, Oregon, he is doing implant dentistry his own way.

"The practice that I'm building right now will be what I call a ‘full-mouth practice,'" Phillips says. "I have found that pushing your practice as an ‘implant practice' or ‘all-on-X practice' often ends up alienating a lot of the patients that you see or could be seeing because some people who think that they need implants don't, and vice versa, some people who don't think that they need implants could benefit from them. Therefore, I call it a full-mouth practice so people will know that we're about more than just single tooth dentistry but won't have too many preconceptions about what their exact treatment plan will be.

"Phillips, who is also on the clinical board of Ascend Dental Alliance, a practice management company focused on supporting private practices, is excited to be building a practice in which dentists can learn and grow as partners. Initially, his team will include two clinicians, but he hopes to expand to have three along with an anesthesiologist or certified registered nurse anesthetist so that the practice will always have an oral surgeon or periodontist, a restorative dentist-whether he or she is a prosthodontist or general dentist-and a general dentist who does more of the bread-and-butter dentistry. "I want doctors who will be full partners, who will be able to make money, and who will want to stick around," he says. "As we grow, I also think it would be really cool if there could be a career trajectory for general dentists to start by doing standard fillings and crowns but eventually get to learn to do prosthetic restorative work and even surgery so that they can grow and shift in their role within the office."

According to Phillips, his own opportunities for training and growth after dental school have been indispensable. "What I loved about my residency at the Veterans Affairs hospital was that our scope of practice included pretty much everything because we weren't limited by how much the patients could pay, so we were truly able to do everything that we treatment planned for," he says. "In addition, we got to work with a different specialist every day, so I got to see a lot of different ways to do the same thing, and I got a lot of practice performing sedation dentistry, placing implants, treating periodontal disease, performing tissue grafting, and more." Phillips also notes the influence of his time working in an office in California where he was trained in digital dentistry and same-day dentistry. "Because of that experience, I was able to come into the four-operatory Oregon office where I currently practice and take them from treating about 8 arches a month to treating about 40 to 50 arches a month by revamping their whole process with digital dentistry technology," he says.

Given Phillips's preference toward digital dentistry, he initially had reservations about introducing a denture conversion workflow into his practice because that would be reintroducing an analog process, but after learning how to use reverse scan bodies to get a digital impression of an analog denture, he was sold on the idea. "I had been using Neodent® implants ever since I completed my residency and loved how simple the system was and how tight the connections were," he says. "So, when I heard about the new NeoConvert technique at Neodent's North American sales meeting, I was intrigued."

NeoConvert is a technique that improves the process of converting a removable denture to a fixed, implant-supported prosthesis. It provides all of the tools needed in one convenient toolbox. "The technique is just so easy and efficient," Phillips says. "It takes away all of the usual headaches associated with converting a denture to an all-on-X prosthesis, and it requires very little extra training. If you can pick up a denture for a snap denture, you can do this and make it screw-retained." Saving chair time was one of the biggest factors in Phillips's decision to adopt the workflow. With his previous fully digital workflow, it could take 2 to 4 hours from the time that the patient woke up from surgery to actually deliver the teeth because, even though it was digitally driven, same-day dentistry, they were relying on a designer to digitally create the fixed denture. But now, using the NeoConvert technique to skip that design step and work with an existing denture allows Phillips to have the teeth ready to deliver by the time the patient wakes up. "I'll pick up the upper arch first and give it to our in-house laboratory to work on while I do the lower arch," he says. "Then, I'll pick up the lower arch, and the laboratory can work on it while we finish up the surgery and have it ready before the patient is even awake."

According to Phillips, the NeoConvert technique also eliminates the need for bite adjustments that were often required when he would start from scratch using his digital workflow. The technique also avoids some of the drawbacks of traditional analog denture conversion methods, such as the need to drill large holes in the denture to allow it to connect with the implants, which can weaken it, making it more likely to fracture during healing, and result in a less esthetically pleasing result overall. "With NeoConvert, we are able to maintain the integrity of the denture, which makes it stronger and prevents breakage," Phillips says. "It also enables us to create a safety net by using the reverse scan bodies to digitize the denture design. This way, if it does happen to break, we have the design on file and can easily 3D print or mill a new one without having to find a laboratory designer to recreate it from scratch." Phillips notes that circumventing the design step also helps to save money in laboratory costs because designers are in such high demand now. "It's really hard to find a designer right now," he says, "but denture technicians are everywhere. Therefore, it is really easy to get a denture made or to fabricate a digital denture if you already have that design, and removing the design step makes it so much easier to ensure a same-day procedure for patients."

Although Phillips believes that digital dentistry is here to stay, he emphasizes that the future of dentistry will likely include a shift to optimizing a mixture of both analog and digital workflows to capitalize on the strengths of each, and the NeoConvert technique exemplifies this future.

Key Points

The NeoConvert technique's innovative components and straightforward workflow simplify the process of converting removable dentures into fixed, implant-supported prostheses.

Fewer appointments and less chairside processing time transform the patient journey while having a favorable impact on practice profitability through time savings.

Converting existing dentures to fixed prostheses eliminates the design step, saving money in laboratory costs.

The NeoConvert toolbox includes everything that is essential, including an intuitive set of drills with an initial guided approach, a manual driver for the precise and swift capture of cylinders, a drill guide for handpieces, and more.

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