California Laboratory Counting on Scanner to Help Continue Growth
Planmeca’s new Emerald scanner expected to lower costs, increase efficiency
Santa Fe Springs, California-based Smile Designs by Rego established a national reputation based on the exceptional ceramic work of brothers Nelson and Juan Rego. Lecturing around the country and publishing articles in various journals, the brothers achieved immense success over three decades in the profession. However, Nelson realized one day that the laboratory’s posterior department did not seem very busy anymore, and a profit-and-loss report showed that the department had been in decline for approximately 3 years.
“We built our reputation on our esthetic anterior work, but over time a perception developed that we were too high-end for the simple, bread-and-butter work,” Nelson Rego says. “Those clients had diminished over time, and I had not realized it because overall the laboratory was doing well. I never want to lay anyone off, so I decided to take action to stop the downward trend in that department.”
Shortly before that, Rego had purchased a new milling machine after 5 years without an in-house mill. With the help of these new digital capabilities, he set out to revive the laboratory’s posterior department. He proposed a new pay structure for employees based on a combination of salary and pay-per-unit, and began promoting the posterior department to dentists.
“Many of our clients either did not know we did posteriors, thought our turnaround time would be more than a month, or believed that our fees would be too high,” Rego says.
As those misconceptions began to be cleared up, the laboratory’s posterior department received a huge spike in business—30% over the prior year. The employees soon agreed to a new pay structure system, and the laboratory is on pace to increase sales by approximately 25% this year.
One way Rego has been able to lower fees is by persuading dentists to send cases digitally. In addition to eliminating shipping costs and model costs, the laboratory can offer faster turnaround times. The price reductions end up being outweighed by the cost savings so that the laboratory ends up actually making a higher profit.
A year ago, Rego says, only 2% of the cases submitted to the laboratory were digital; now, approximately 25% are digital. As dramatic an increase as that was, there remains plenty of room for further growth, and Rego expects that.
“I foresee a significant increase in the amount of cases that are sent digitally as our clients begin using the new Planmeca Emerald scanner, manufactured by E4D Technologies,” he says.
The Regos have a long history with E4D Technologies, as the current design software utilizes the brothers’ tooth library—called Library C for their Cuban heritage—for chairside and laboratory designs.
Ultra-lightweight and ergonomically designed, the Planmeca Emerald Next-Gen Intraoral Scanner quickly delivers images with superior accuracy and detail. A streamlined, compact design provides clinicians with a comfortable grip and superior control while capturing images. Deliberately designed for increased patient safety, the autoclavable seamless scanner tips prevent cross-infection while encouraging continuous scanning. By using a multi-color, laser-based system, the Planmeca Emerald produces images with a vibrant color palette for realistic digital impressions that allow dentists to distinguish between hard and soft tissue. Built on an open system platform, the Planmeca Emerald seamlessly integrates with other systems, making collaboration with laboratories worry-free.
“If the Planmeca Emerald does everything we hear it will do, it is a no-brainer,” Rego says.
Rego anticipates that the fact that the Planmeca Emerald has no click fees, licensing fees, or dongle fees will entice dentists as the total cost of ownership will be significantly lower than any other scanner available.
“It is faster and at a lower price point,” Rego says. “Software integration also will be crucial. Those efficiencies add a lot of value to the laboratory. I tell dentists that it will not just make my life easier; it will make both of our lives easier. I also love the fact that it is designed, supported, and manufactured in the US.”
Planmeca’s software also has more applications, he says—from simple ones to those that are more complex. The system is backed by exceptional technical support.
“I always like to figure things out for myself, but E4D makes it so easy that I have no problem calling for help,” Rego says.
As Smile Designs by Rego continues to evolve, another generation is poised to make its mark. Juan’s son Jonathan recently joined the company, and the plan is for him to eventually take over the business.
“He knows business, has a finance degree, and has some really smart ideas, which is exciting,” Rego says.
Despite this new direction, Smile Designs by Rego will continue to offer top-quality esthetic restorations—with the help of CAD/CAM equipment such as the Emerald scanner.
“Eighty percent of every crown is the same, no matter who fabricates it,” Rego says. “The last 20% differentiates the ceramist. If a mill can handle the 80%, we are left with more time for the 20%. We can increase our profits while doing better work.”
For more information, contact: