Executive Editor Daniel Alter, MSc, MDT, CDT
The 2018 IDT International Digital Denture Symposium was held in Phoenix, Arizona, on September 28 and 29, with a sold-out crowd of prosthodontists, dentists, dental technicians, denturists, and other dental professionals from all over the world. The incredible positivity and overall energy at the event was truly overwhelming, as forward-thinkers enjoyed stimulating learning opportunities and networked with solutions providers and progressive experts in the field who shared their expertise and experiences with their digital workflows.
We are living in a time when conventional techniques are rapidly evolving to digital means and will continue to evolve. For digital dentures, the evolution will be significantly faster, since fixed and implant prosthodontics have paved the way for both clinical and laboratory adoption. This was evident in the progress that was made in just 11 months since the 2017 IDT International Digital Denture Symposium in Baltimore, Maryland. It is not something that is coming in the future; rather, digital dentures are very much here and now. Do all of the currently available solutions and workflows provide the ideal answer? There is a distinct answer for each individual. However, I can assure you that our evolution within this industry will play out the same as any evolution throughout history.
Charles Darwin's theory of evolution stated that all species of organisms arise and develop through natural selection and the ability to compete and survive—also known as "survival of the fittest." This certainly applies to our profession for both solution providers and end users.
As the removable prosthetics market dives deeper into digital denture solutions and workflows, a new skill set must be learned by those who wish to compete, survive, and thrive in this segment of the profession. That skill set is called digital literacy, which is "the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills," according to the American Library Association. In other words, digital literacy is a learned skill set using data and technology to create, as in our case oral prosthetics. Sound dental knowledge and skill are foundations for providing a viable fixed/removable prosthetic. However, in the newly transformed landscape, we must know how to use technology, software, and hardware, in order to achieve a high-quality dental prosthetic accurately, efficiently and consistently, with repeatable viable solutions and materials.
Becoming literate in digital dentistry doesn't happen overnight, since it involves gaining a breadth of understanding of software, hardware, and materials. However, it is something that is absolutely critical to remain viable and relevant, now and in the future.
Think of the time it took you to become proficient with conventional fabrication processes of oral prosthetics; each individual has a different learning acumen. Nevertheless, I believe digital literacy enjoys a significantly shorter learning curve than conventional processes. Seek to educate yourself, get excited, and challenge yourself to grow your digital knowledge and comfort, and remain open for further growth. Being flexible in your approach and open to knowledge and new methods are necessary for survival of the fittest. We hope to see you at the 2019 IDT International Digital Denture Symposium on September 27-28 in Atlanta, Georgia!
It is my honor and pleasure to elevate and inspire with knowledge.