An Interview with Oliver Amann
The dental market is in the midst of sweeping change. Oliver Amann, CTO at Amann Girrbach, talks about the trends and new horizons.
Inside Dental Technology (IDT): Dentistry is rapidly embracing digitization. How do you envision this evolution unfolding for the laboratory industry?
Oliver Amann (OA): CAD/CAM technology has radically changed the fabrication procedures of prosthetic restorations. CAD/CAM has now become an industry standard, and there is also an emerging trend toward in-house laboratory fabrication. Signs of this trend were seen at this year’s IDS, where a greater range of compact in-house CAD/CAM systems was on display, significantly more than 2 or even 4 years ago. CAD/CAM will continue to expand in the coming years and cover previously non-digitized indications such as CrCo frameworks. In addition, we will see closer linking of individual software modules, which will further shape the application and possibilities of CAD/CAM.
IDT: What will be the important survival criteria for laboratories in the future?
OA: Laboratory owners and managers must be able to react flexibly to new procedures and materials due to the ongoing possibilities that are created and realized for prosthetic restorations using CAD/CAM technology. It is critical to invest in an open, adaptable system architecture to retrieve the value creation it offers to the dental laboratory. The more indications that can be fabricated in-house, the higher the value creation and consequently also the profit for the laboratory. Equally critical is the customization of esthetics, which is a very high basic standard of prosthetic restorations achieved using CAD/CAM technology. Last but not least, it is important for the laboratory to round off the effort with a corresponding service to build up and maintain long-term, stable customer relationships.
IDT: The one stumbling block to complete automation for the dental laboratory is the digitization of the dental practice. When do you believe this transformation will take place, and what factors are needed?
OA: Intraoral scanning will, in general, become as equally widespread as the use of CAD/CAM technology. Realization is already fully underway–even if it is perhaps not taking place as rapidly as many manufacturers would like. The big breakthrough will possibly occur once purchase prices are reduced and handling becomes easier. We see a basic problem here in the blurring of competence areas of the dentist and dental technician. With all the patient comfort provided by the practice solution, it should not result in any compromises with realization in the dental laboratory. Instead, it is important to structure the process chain optimally for the patient, dentist, and laboratory, to ensure that all involved gain from quality and value creation.
IDT: Companies such as Amann Girrbach have strategically partnered with other manufacturers in the dental space. What are the driving factors and advantages?
AO: As in other markets, manufacturers in the dental sector differ in their product portfolios, strategic positioning, and choices of specialties. No one manufacturer can do everything, and no one has everything. Internal market cooperation creates win-win situations for companies to expand their services and profit from the competences of cooperation partners. At the same time, they smooth the way to develop and provide better solutions for the fabrication of perfect prosthetics. The best example is our Ceramill Full Denture Solution—Ceramill FDS for short—which we officially presented for the first time at this year’s IDS. Ceramill FDS makes it possible for the first time to fabricate CAD/CAM-based full dentures in a continuous, seamless workflow. As we did not want to compromise function or esthetics, we started a technology partnership with Heraeus Kulzer to allow us to fabricate the full dentures using the proven Pala Mix & Match denture teeth.
IDT: What role will your company play in the changing landscape of dental technology?
AO: With the Ceramill system, Amann Girrbach offers one of the most experienced and versatile CAD/CAM systems on the market that now allows practically every indication to be fabricated in-house in the laboratory. We will continue to follow an in-house philosophy that offers laboratories consistency and completeness unmatched in the market. This will be one of our biggest challenges, as the principle of in-house fabrication from the beginning to end of the procedure has previously not been standard practice in the US market. It is therefore important to make the efficiency, economy, and benefit of value creation produced by investment in our systems apparent and tangible. Here we focus on clear, customer-oriented communication by our product specialists on site, a growing network of AG-certified Live Labs, in which our system solutions can be experienced in everyday practice, as well as in close collaboration with our distribution partners.