Inside Dental Technology
October 2016
Volume 7, Issue 10

A Game-Changer Making Dentists Love Doing Dentures

Laboratory reaps benefits of precise, efficient Pala Digital Dentures

Dirk Albrecht, CDT, has been working at Oral Designs Dental Laboratory for 36 years, including the past 18 as owner after buying the San Antonio, Texas-based business from his father in 1998. Throughout his career, Albrecht has observed that a high percentage of dentists dislike working with dentures.

“And who can blame them?” he says. “Analog dentures have made virtually no meaningful advances in my lifetime. It’s really a dated technology.”

A big reason for the dentists’ frustration, he says, is that the process of creating dentures has always contained too many variables to make it easily repeatable—until now, that is.

Last fall, Oral Designs added digital dentures to its armamentarium. The technology had been introduced to the market a few years earlier, but Albrecht did not feel ready to bring it to his laboratory yet.

“I didn’t want to commit to digital dentures until I found a manufacturer that was prepared to provide the level of service I felt my dental practice customers needed,” Albrecht says. “I found that manufacturer in Heraeus Kulzer.”

According to Albrecht, Heraeus Kulzer’s Pala Digital Dentures deliver exceptional product quality and are backed by truly exceptional customer support.

The Pala Digital Denture system delivers a superior fit and excellent esthetics in a fraction of the time of traditional, or analog, dentures. In fact, dentists can capture not just the impression but also the bite registration, vertical dimension, and centric relation in the very first visit, versus three or more visits for analog dentures.

Another major benefit comes at the try-in stage, as the digital precision means minimal, if any, adjustment.

“I would guess that the number of re-sets are less than half of what we see with analog dentures,” says Albrecht, who adds that Pala Digital Dentures’ use of customizable impression trays is an important reason for that accuracy.

If any adjustments are required, they are done on the 3D printed prototype and rescanned. Because the denture is modeled digitally and the information is already stored, the fit stays the same regardless of any adjustments made to the teeth set-up, vertical dimension, or lip support.

The Pala Digital Denture system uses Mondial and Mondial i denture teeth, which are specifically made with and for CAD/CAM technology and are, according to Albrecht, “the gold standard for both esthetics and durability.”

Another feature of digital dentures is the digital record.

“If the denture gets lost or eaten by the family dog, you don’t have to start from scratch and take additional impressions because you already have a digital record of the denture,” Albrecht says.

The response from Oral Designs’ customers has been enthusiastic.

“My dentists tell me that the fit and precision of Pala Digital Dentures is significantly better than with analog dentures,” Albrecht says. “I haven’t had one single complaint about any aspect of the process, which is pretty amazing.”

That fit and precision is especially impressive when one considers that Pala Digital Dentures are fabricated in a fraction of the time of analog dentures. While the entire process with analog dentures can take five or six patient visits, only three patient visits are required with the digital approach.

“That’s a huge time-saver for the laboratory, the practice, and the patient,” he says. “Our laboratory spends a total of only 30 to 60 minutes on a digital denture compared to 4-5 hours with an analog denture.”

Albrecht says being able to offer Pala Digital Dentures has been great for business at Oral Designs. Current customers who were not sending their denture business to Oral Designs now do, and the laboratory has added new accounts as well. Albrecht estimates that the new business he was able to generate directly or indirectly because of Pala Digital Dentures helped increase his laboratory’s revenues by 15-20%.

Albrecht says the single greatest benefit of Pala Digital Dentures is the fact that the overall process is much cleaner and involves far fewer variables. To illustrate the difference, he points out that the five or six patient visits required with analog dentures can put a lot of back-and-forth transportation miles on those dentures.

“Those teeth move when analog denture try-ins are put in the mail or even in a car,” he says. Conversely, with the printed prototype for a digital denture, “those teeth aren’t going anywhere.”

Because of this and the many other advantages of Pala Digital Dentures, the process from start to finish is not only much faster and much more precise but also much more easily repeatable, which dentists value.

“One of my customers had grown to hate conventional dentures so much that he had almost completely stopped offering them to his patients,” Albrecht says. “A few months ago I convinced him to try Pala Digital Dentures, and he’s been using them ever since. The other day he said something I never thought I’d hear come out of his mouth: ‘You know, I really enjoy doing dentures now.’ Coming from him, that’s pretty remarkable.”

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