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An Interview with Dominic Babinski
Inside Dental Technology (IDT): Why is fiber reinforcement technology important for laboratories to consider when fabricating removable or temporary fixed restorations?
Dominic Babinski (DB): When creating restorative solutions that are designed to remain in the mouth for extended periods of time, it is often very difficult to predict the long-term durability of that appliance. The longer an appliance stays in the mouth, the more unknown factors such as individual patient anatomy, occlusal schemes, bruxing, and nutritional habits impact its durability. Laboratories can benefit from ensuring the long-term durability of their appliances by strengthening them using fiber reinforcement technology. Clinically, the use of fiber reinforcement lends strength in areas where the acrylic, because of appliance design, must remain very thin and is prone to breakage. It also helps in cases where anatomical and occlusal concerns might lead to breakage, as well as when the patient has a history of breakage. With a level of reinforcement comparable to traditional cast metal, fiber technology is also beneficial when there are space issues. For the patient, fiber technology is lighter in weight, more esthetically pleasing, more biocompatible, and corrosion resistant.
IDT: Fiber reinforcement products have been around for years. How has the latest generation of glass fiber materials made a difference for technicians?
DB: E-glass material technology is the primary reinforcement material used in the dental technology industry today. Over the years, the material and its delivery methods have greatly improved. The older generation materials were all dry, and they required soaking in monomer resin prior to use. That production process was time intensive for the end user and not always reliable in terms of full monomer penetration of the material. Today, the light-curable resin material is delivered pre-impregnated. The industrial impregnation process positively impacts the quality, physical bond strength, and handling characteristics of the material. The material also comes in a mesh format not previously available, so it can be used for an expanded range of applications, such as a full denture base on a new denture.
IDT: How does the use of fiber technology help laboratories remain competitive and profitable?
DB: When compared to fabricating conventional cast metal reinforcement, fiber technology holds a commanding advantage in terms of reduced production time and increased production efficiency, translating to cost savings. For laboratories that used to outsource their cast-metal full-denture reinforcements, fiber technology gives them an opportunity to bring that business back in-house. It also reduces repetitive repairs and remakes caused by appliance breakage. In addition, because fiber technology is used for repairing or fabricating a new appliance, it is considered a value-added product and/or service, and most laboratories can bill more for its use. Overall, fiber technology offers dentists a great solution for difficult cases, while giving the laboratory the extended opportunity to market an innovative material that may attract new clients.
IDT: Implant-supported and retained dentistry is on the rise. What are some examples of how fiber technology can be used in implant cases?
DB: The most typical application would be for an implant-supported removable denture on ball or locator attachments. These types of cases are more prone to breakage because of the additional stresses involved, particularly at the attachment interface at the abutment. These cases also may not have the vertical space necessary to accommodate both a metal framework and the acrylic thickness required. Another application would be for the fabrication of the Stage 1 provisional denture in immediate-load implant cases. These provisionals, especially in the case of a retrofitted existing denture, are prone to breakage and benefit from reinforcement.
IDT: What new applications are on the horizon for fiber reinforcement material?
DB: In the next two to three months Synca will be introducing a fiber-based system that will, for select cases, be an equivalent to a cast or milled titanium bar for bar-supported implant overdenture cases. This will allow technicians to fabricate a framework for these hybrid fixed-implant cases in-house, instead of casting the bar or outsourcing the work to a titanium bar milling center. The material will be formulated with fiber strands of two different gauges that laboratories can use to create the framework on the model. There will be definite time and cost advantages to using the material for this application. The first advantage is that for most implant cases, the fiber framework will cost the laboratory at least half as much as a milled titanium bar. The second advantage is that the bar can be fabricated in about 30 minutes. Also, there is the arguable advantage that composite glass fiber is more compatible with acrylic than titanium and can better and more evenly distribute the bond’s mechanical stress forces in the mouth. We are in beta testing now with the material and have received very positive feedback.
Dominic Babinski, CMA is Director of Business Development for Synca.