An Interview with Craig Rodriguez
Inside Dental Technology (IDT): The implant market continues to grow at a robust pace. What advances in materials and technology have had the greatest impact on the growth of this market?
Craig Rodriguez (CR): From my perspective, digital technologies have had the greatest impact on implant dentistry. Technology is providing the dental industry with the precision tools needed for providing implant patients with successful, long-term functional, and esthetic results. We now have computerized software that allows the surgeon to integrate cone beam CT scans with implant planning softwares to virtually plan a case in a precise and predictable manner. The ability to provide the dental team with digital tools for planning the case, placing the implants, and restoring the case with a solution that is designed specifically for the individual patient has positively impacted the reliability and long-term survival rates for implant treatment.
The goal of any business in this market is to make the restorative aspect of implants as easy as possible for the restoring dentist. From that perspective, a solution such as Atlantis™ patient-specific abutments has done just that. The restoring dentist no longer has to manage an often complex inventory of restorative components that range from different sizes to different brands.
In the future, advancements such as a digital scan of the oral environment integrated with the implant planning software will allow for even more efficient immediate temporization.
IDT: And how will digital technologies continue to impact the laboratory and the laboratory’s relationship with the implant team?
CR: By taking advantage of technology, the laboratory can meet the esthetic and functional long-term needs of their clinical partners and patient. This is an area where the laboratory continues to play a significant role.
For the laboratory, dental technicians can take advantage of CAD/CAM solutions such as Atlantis. By using the patented Atlantis VAD™ (Virtual Abutment Design) software that analyzes the edentulous space, taking into consideration all the anatomical features of adjacent teeth as well as occlusal aspects of the opposing tooth, Astra Tech is able to design and manufacture a patient-specific implant abutment with the lab’s specific requirements and design preferences. The result is not only an abutment that is anatomically designed to provide the greatest function and esthetics for the patient, but a CAD/CAM-milled restorative foundation that reduces the amount of material (such as gold) needed for a highly cost-effective solution that provides optimized support of the final crown. This type of solution is also ideal for all laboratories, regardless of their business model and size, as a way to increase the implant portion of their business, without needing to invest in equipment or software. In addition, because Atlantis is available for all major implant systems, it is a very flexible system for the dental lab to use in working with different clinicians who have a preference for different systems.
We have also partnered with 3M ESPE, Dental Wings, and, in the near future, 3Shape to allow laboratories the freedom to use the scanners that they currently have to send data digitally for the design and manufacture of their Atlantis Abutment. These types of partnerships really help the labs to use the equipment they have invested in to bring more business into the laboratory.
The next evolution will be advanced internet-based software share points that surgeons, restoring dentists, and laboratories can use to easily collaborate on the overall case from planning to final restoration.
IDT: What future advancements will we be seeing coming to market?
CR: I think what we will see is continued refinements made to existing products and technologies, further advancements in implant surface technology, more streamlined implant planning and treatment processes that are done digitally, and products that are designed to better match up to each patients’ individual situation and needs. For example, we have recently launched our OsseoSpeed™ TX Profile implant, which is a unique and anatomically shaped implant that is specifically designed for use in sloped ridges. Whereas before clinicians needed to choose between buccal and lingual marginal bone maintenance and esthetics, the OsseoSpeed TX Profile implant is designed to harmonize with the patient’s natural bone situation relieving any compromise.
Many potential patients still remain who can benefit from the function and esthetics that implant treatment provides, and tremendous growth opportunities within the field of implant dentistry. At Astra Tech, we will continue to build and enhance our product and services for all dental professionals, while continuing to provide laboratories the tools they need to further develop their business and meet the growing demands of their clinical partners.
About the Interviewee
Craig Rodriguez has been the Vice President of Marketing for Astra Tech, Inc. North America for the past 6 years and has over 25 years of experience specific to the dental implant field. Through his wide range of roles as Sales Manager and Marketing Executive, Craig has, over the years, developed a great appreciation for the importance of working with and facilitating the communication and collaboration among all members of the treatment team. A foundation of his approach is building relationships built upon a belief that, “People buy from people.”