Inside Dental Technology
August 2016
Volume 7, Issue 8

Integrating Platforms: Better Care Through Innovation

Jukka Kanerva and Planmeca combine software, imaging, and CAD/CAM to provide full solutions for laboratories.

It was a critical decision made in early 2014 to make a strategic investment in E4D Technologies that set the stage for Planmeca and Jukka Kanerva, Vice President Dental Care Units and CAD/CAM and President of E4D Technologies, to take the next evolutionary step in the company’s mission to provide “better care through innovation.” Already a leading global manufacturer of digital imaging equipment, imaging software, and treatment centers, the privately owned company seized the opportunity to enter the rapidly growing realm of CAD/CAM dentistry.

“We believe that digital impression technology and digital production processes will become the standard of care in dentistry,” Kanerva says. “The synergies between the two companies allowed us to marry our extensive suite of 2D and 3D digital imaging platforms and our open-architecture Romexis software with the robust CAD/CAM solutions for both the dentist and dental laboratory.”

Having CAD/CAM solutions positioned both chairside as well as in the laboratory gives dental professionals the ability to easily share patient data, which not only improves patient communication and patient care but also helps dentists and laboratories work more efficiently and profitably. However, Kanerva notes, we are still in the early stages of the digital transformation in dentistry. The innovative research and development divisions of both companies are committed to working together to further develop new digital solutions that connect dentists and laboratory professionals in ways that make working together easier and more efficient.

“As digital solutions mature, there will be new opportunities for laboratory professionals to create new digital business models,” Kanerva says. “The laboratory industry is so much further invested in CAD/CAM technology than the clinical side. This will allow laboratory owners the opportunity to parlay that knowledge into new profit centers for their businesses by offering clients a variety of services from CAD design and milling services and consultation services on complex and specialty cases to even renting milling machines to dental offices.”

As these technologies continue to evolve and become more commonplace, the business-to-business working relationship between the laboratory and dental practice will strengthen, becoming more collaborative in nature and offering increased production capacity for both sides.

Collaboration Is Key

Building a collaborative relationship with clients can only be realized if the digital architecture platform being used is open to allow the free and seamless transmission of digital data regardless of its source. It is a philosophy that is at the center of all Planmeca’s CAD/CAM solutions. Only by offering completely open platforms for sharing images and data among dental professionals can all parties communicate with each other and achieve the best results for the patient. To that end, Planmeca offers the ability to combine 3D scans, facial scans, digital impression scans, and model scans into a single file that provides a complete virtual image of the patient and oral situation through its Romexis software.

“Laboratories can even connect to the same database that the clinic has in order to freely visualize and share three-dimensional data such as CBCT and impression scans as well as implant and ortho treatment plans on a single platform to aid in the restorative design and production of the final restoration,” Kanerva says.

360-Degree Solutions

Planmeca’s open-architecture data platform, powered by the PlanScan intraoral scanner, allows highly knowledgeable technicians to consult on large complex and specialty cases, which is critical to the successful outcome of a case and reinforces the importance of a technical advisor. Laboratories can partner with Planmeca by registering online to become a PlanScan Preferred laboratory and tap into a well of new business opportunities by gaining access to one of the largest scanning databases of dentists. Because the information is in open STL format, laboratories using open-architecture production solutions are able to import the data and produce the prescribed restorations.

In the near future, Planmeca will be providing its own suite of in-house scan, design, mill, and print solutions for the North American market. Data coming from the practice can be imported into the company’s PlanCAD Premium laboratory software to produce a wide range of restorative designs from single-tooth solutions, implant abutments, and ortho designs to full-arch structures, including implant bridges and bars, whether fixed or screw-retained solutions. Dentists and laboratories can access software to aid their clients in the case acceptance phase of treatment. Final CAD designs are in STL format for exporting to any milling solution that supports an open format.

“These designs can also be easily shared between the restorative dentist and the oral surgeon on the same database for full collaboration,” Kanerva says.

Recently, Planmeca announced the addition of the Creo 3D printer to its line of CAD/CAM solutions for dental laboratories. While it is currently available only in Europe, the company hopes to make it available in the US by the fourth quarter of 2016 or early in 2017. The Creo DLP printing solution offers the ability to produce models, patient-specific splints, surgical guides, and orthodontic models, as well as orthodontic aligners.

“3D printing is the way of the future and will play a much more substantial role in dentistry,” Kanerva says.

Winning Strategies

CAD/CAM and digital dentistry will play an increasingly important role in the future of the dental industry. Kanerva believes that one day soon, digitizing the patient’s oral situation will be at the core of the initial patient visit to monitor changes over time by comparing it to future scans in order to proactively predict and diagnose potential problems. That is the reason Planmeca integrated the PlanScan intraoral scanner into each of its treatment centers. These digital files will then become a permanent record that can be used by the clinical and technical teams to assess the best treatment options for specific oral situations. Archiving patient scans also allows the dental team to act quickly should the patient need a restorative replacement. The replacement crown or bridge can be produced by the laboratory and seated by the dentist in one visit, improving the efficiencies and productivity of the entire dental team and meeting the needs of working patients.

As new digital technologies and solutions emerge on the horizon, Kanerva believes dental laboratories will find new and innovative ways to deliver products and services to their client base whether here or abroad and that Planmeca will continue to be leading those technological advancements.

4 Key Take Aways

The open-architecture PlanScan data platform offers partner laboratories the ability to consult on large complex and specialty cases.

PlanScan Preferred Laboratories: Partner with Planmeca by registering at planmeca.com to tap into the largest scanning databases of dentists.

With PlanCAD designs, final CAD designs can be exported to any open-format milling or printing solution.

The new Creo 3D printing solution opens the door to produce models, splints, surgical guides, orthodontic models, and orthodontic aligners. Coming soon!

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