Venerable Laboratory Improves Workflow with Innovative Partner
Strategy Milling adds CAD/CAM precision and efficiency to gold and PFM restorations
Thayer Dental Laboratory celebrated its 40th anniversary in October 2016, and the laboratory's commitment to helping dentists grow their practices has remained constant over those four decades. The way the laboratory goes about doing that, however, has changed significantly.
“The laboratory from the outside looks the same as it always has, but internally, change has been lightning-fast,” says Owen Thayer, CDT, son of founder Gregory Thayer, CDT, FICOI. “We are confident in the future of our business because we have managed to diversify what we do with the help of digital technologies and with partners who are also revolutionizing the way we operate.”
Owen Thayer first worked in the laboratory during his summer vacations as a teenager. After earning a college degree in digital art and multimedia design, he was unsure of what career path to pursue and returned to the laboratory.
“Those summers working in the laboratory were my education for this job,” Thayer says.
Starting his full-time employment in the crown-and-bridge department, Thayer spent approximately a year waxing by hand.
“Eventually, I decided that waxing was a slow, tedious way to make a crown, so I started looking for another way to do it,” he says.
At the time, digital dentistry was in its infancy, but Thayer convinced his father to invest in an early CAD/CAM system. Eventually, they moved to more advanced software, and now the laboratory has extensive digital capabilities.
“With the developments in digital technology, we are constantly reinventing what we do and how we do it,” Thayer says. “One of our newest initiatives is adding digital dentures to our repertoire; a year ago, we were not even thinking about that, but things are happening that quickly, which is fun because we are on the cutting edge in this industry.”
One of the laboratory's most successful new initiatives sprouted from his family's longstanding relationship with another prominent family in dental technology. Donald Mappin Sr. was the one who first taught Owen Thayer to wax a crown to PTC specifications. When Scott Mappin started Strategy Milling and introduced the concept of milled gold restorations, Thayer “thought he was crazy,” but he listened.
“In milling there is a lot of waste, and to waste gold seemed like a crazy idea, but the more he explained it, the more it made sense,” Thayer says. “I am glad we ended up working with Strategy Milling because they have revolutionized the way that laboratories can produce a gold crown.”
With its proprietary process of recycling scrap alloy, Strategy Milling has made it possible for laboratories to add the precision and efficiency of the CAD/CAM workflow to the hardness, antagonistic wear, malleability, biocompatibility, and ease of cementation and removal that gold alloy has proven to offer over the years.
“When we began working with Strategy Milling, we were immediately impressed by the crowns that we received from them,” Thayer says. “Very little post-processing work was necessary. Milling gold polishes it in the process. The only work required afterward is knocking down some sprues where it was held into the puck, and polishing those areas. Then the restoration is ready for delivery.”
Dentists have noticed that the fits are better as well. Strategy Milling uses high-precision Roeders RXD5 milling machines.
“The level of detail that is achieved with these machines is significantly higher than what can be done via hand waxing and casting,” Thayer says.
Working with Strategy Milling also helps the laboratory's bottom line because it is no longer necessary to keep an inventory of alloy.
“The price of gold is fluctuating almost every day,” Thayer says. “Because of the stability that Strategy Milling has been able to establish, we keep very little if any gold alloy in the building now.”
Thayer Dental Laboratory is located only 3 hours east of Strategy Milling in Pennsylvania, so sometimes cases can be turned around in the same day. However, Thayer says Strategy Milling's efficiency can help a laboratory anywhere in the country.
“The way that they process information and feed it into their workflow is very efficient,” he says. “If there is an issue with one of our case submissions, they usually call us within 5 minutes after the file is uploaded, so we can resolve it without losing any time.”
This partnership is one reason why Thayer is confident that his laboratory will continue to provide dentists with the same level of quality as it always has—if not better.
“Strategy Milling is a high-integrity company,” he says. “Anyone who has not worked with them should try it because the return is very beneficial.”
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