Former Dental Assistant Provides High-End Services
Seamless CAD/CAM system helps meet highest standards of excellence
Ten years working as a Registered Dental Assistant for a large practice provided Ashkan Afghan, RDA, BSBM, with an uncommon perspective when he began his career as a dental technician in 2001 and eventually opened his own laboratory, Creative Image Dental Laboratory in San Dimas, California, in 2011. With an intimate knowledge of both sides of the dentist-technician relationship, Afghan is able to offer his clients an extraordinary level of service.
“I was the assistant who handled interactions with the laboratory,” Afghan says. “I know exactly what dentists are doing and what they need from the laboratory. I know their language, and I understand their concerns and frustrations. This allows me to close the gap and accommodate them better, which has helped me both provide high-quality work and operate a successful business.”
Afghan maintains a hands-on approach. If a dentist feels it would be helpful to have the technician in the operatory for a particular case, he returns to his roots as a dental assistant and helps throughout the case. His laboratory, meanwhile, includes a training facility with a large projector screen that allows dentists to visit and discuss case design in great depth.
“These types of interactions,” he says, “are beneficial for all parties.”
Afghan’s laboratory career began at a large, production facility, and he worked at several others before deciding to open his own business. Creative Image is a four-person operation, with Afghan, his wife, and two other technicians.
“We do highly specialized work,” he says. “We have been called boutique. We use advanced technology to cater to highly specialized dentists for implant cases, full-mouth reconstructions, and other work that production laboratories do not want to do.”
The experience working at larger laboratories was invaluable, Afghan says, but he does not plan to grow his own business to that size because he has chosen to focus on customer service and top-notch quality.
“Smaller production means you have more control over everything, and that allows you to do bigger and better things,” he says.
In keeping with the mission of providing the best possible service and quality to his clients, Afghan decided a few years ago to invest in a CAD/CAM system. He spent approximately a year researching different machines before settling on the Dentsply Sirona system, which includes an inEos X5 scanner.
“I chose Dentsply Sirona because it was a one-stop shop,” Afghan says. “They manufacture every piece of the system, and they offer exceptional support and a vast amount of knowledge.”
The primary benefit, Afghan says, is the integration factor. While there are plenty of open systems on the market, he wanted one in which every piece was designed to work seamlessly with each other. Dentsply Sirona also does not have expensive annual “design seat” license fees.
“A certain milling machine might accept STL files, and a scanner from a different company produces its own STL files, and they work together,” he says. “But they have not been designed and tested together.”
Afghan says he has heard stories from other technicians who have needed technical support for their open systems, and each manufacturer’s representative blames the other’s products.
“With Dentsply Sirona, one technical support person can help you with everything,” he says.
In addition to the integration, Afghan cites the inEos X5’s high level of accuracy and open design as significant benefits.
“The open design allows you to see it working, rather than putting the model in, shutting a door, and not knowing what is happening,” he says. “It also allows you to scan the full articulated model if you need to scan the bite.”
Afghan also uses the inEos X5 for impression scanning to eliminate model work, sending the digital files to a 3D printer when a model is necessary.
When dentists use Dentsply Sirona intraoral scanners, the incoming digital files can be inserted seamlessly into the laboratory workflow.
“The same file that is produced by a CEREC Omnicam can be read and understood by our inEos X5’s software,” Afghan says. “It eliminates the risk of losing resolution or accuracy while converting the file to a universal STL file. We are using the same software as the dentists, so we can be confident that what we see on the screen is accurate.”
This supreme accuracy and seamless integration of the various components of the CAD/CAM system allows Afghan to serve dentists almost as if he were in their operatories with them.
“My whole laboratory revolves around digital dentistry and the Dentsply Sirona system,” he says. “Dentists are confident when they work with us that they will receive the best restorations possible.”
The inEos® X5 introduces robotic scanning to the laboratory. The 3D scanner features a unique robot arm, triple-tray scanning capabilities, innovative model positioning, and the latest scanning technology. The inEos® X5 has unrivaled precision, flexible handling, and a comprehensive spectrum of applications including scanning models and physical impressions.
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