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Innovative Partner Helps Laboratory Produce Highest Quality
Second-generation laboratory owner successfully mixes analog with CAD/CAM
Marc-Antoine Archambault spent nearly five years in the restaurant business before deciding he wanted to work at his father’s dental laboratory in Montreal, Quebec. When Marc-Antoine first applied for a job at Laboratoire Dent-Esthérium, André Archambault declined his application.
“He thought I was taking the easy way out,” Marc-Antoine says.
A few months later, Marc-Antoine tried again, and this time his father hired him. Marc-Antoine soon realized he had a passion for dental technology, and he eventually studied the subject at Collège Édouard-Montpetit in Longueuil, Quebec, in the early 2000s and took over as owner and chairman of the laboratory in 2009.
Marc-Antoine has upheld a proud history that began when his father opened Dent-Esthérium out of his home in 1973. André came from a family of dentists: His father, Marcel, was President of the Quebec College of Dental Surgeons, and his older brother Michel and a few cousins were also dentists. André chose a slightly different path, becoming a dental technician.
After approximately five years, André had four employees and moved to a new facility. By the early 1980s, he had one of the biggest laboratories in Montreal, with almost 30 employees.
Eventually, Dent-Esthérium scaled back its operation to approximately 10-12 employees, where it has stayed for the past few decades. Marc-Antoine describes it as pushing the limits of boutique, producing high-end work on a larger scale.
“We are not small, but we also do not have so many dentists that they are merely case numbers to us,” he says. “We know our clientele, and we take care of them.”
Dent-Esthérium is a full-service laboratory, handling everything from cast metal frameworks to very complex implant cases, traditional removable prosthetics, overdentures, and more. Archambault says he maintains a relaxed, family atmosphere for his employees.
“A happy staff produces better work and pays more attention to the details,” he says.
The laboratory utilizes CAD/CAM for approximately half of its work, Archambault says.
“I have extensive experience with digital design, virtual articulators, and that type of technology, but for some cases it is necessary to touch, feel, and really see the process with your trained eyes rather than on a screen,” Archambault says. “For other cases, utilizing the precision of CAD/CAM allows us to accomplish things we never could have done previously. We try to mix both worlds and take advantage of the best of both.”
One way Archambault sometimes mixes analog and CAD/CAM is by conventionally waxing implant-supported bridge frameworks and sending them to Panthera Dental to “copy” into milled zirconia, PEEK, titanium, or cobalt-chrome.
Dent-Esthérium has worked with the Robichaud family, owners of Panthera Dental, for more than a decade. Jean Robichaud, CDT, and his sons, Gabriel and Bernard, were associated with several companies before the sons opened Panthera in 2012, carrying forward the tradition of quality and innovation that has been their signature.
“Every case they handle is an improvement over the previous one,” Archambault says. “They constantly work to perfect their techniques and their design programs.”
The innovative spirit includes being open to clients’ ideas. Panthera has become known for developing products based on clients’ ideas, including the REBourke™ concept bar and the Lock ‘n’ Release™ bar, the latter of which the Archambaults helped invent.
“We have ideas, and they have the means to execute those ideas,” Archambault says. “We help each other, and all of Panthera’s clients benefit. If not for Panthera, the REBourke bar might be available to only a few laboratories. This open community allows everyone to help advance dental technology to produce better prostheses.”
With the Lock ‘n’ Release bar, a patented locking mechanism is built into the bar to allow patients with dexterity issues or even an auxiliary person to remove the prosthesis with minimal effort. Dent-Esthérium had assembled the devices by hand before partnering with Panthera to make them more consistently and make them available to many more laboratories and their dentists.
Dentists have come to expect the highest quality from Dent-Esthérium, Archambault says, and that includes unusual complex cases. Panthera’s innovative approach has helped them satisfy their dentists’ needs.
“We have sent the production center some really odd cases, and they have had the ability to adapt to anything,” Archambault says. “They always find a way to make each restoration like a jewel. They think like technicians, and they know exactly what we need. They have a CAD/CAM solution to every problem.”
One reason why the Archambaults have continued to partner with the Robichauds for so many years is the continuously improving quality, which accommodates Dent-Esthérium’s high standards. Archambault says the effects of Panthera’s custom-built, high-precision milling center have been noticeable in their products, but he adds that Panthera has not stopped there.
“They are developing some products that most laboratories might never have imagined to be possible,” Archambault says. “They are always one step ahead, and they help our laboratory stay one step ahead as well.”
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About the Author
Marc-Antoine Archambault, Owner and Chairman of Laboratoire Dent-Esthérium in Montreal, Quebec.