What Goes Around...
The phrases "everything old is new again" and "history often repeats itself" are familiar to us all. Bygone fashion trends once thought of as outdated emerge decades later as the "new" trend. Many things often referred to as passé seem to enjoy a renaissance as the years go on—such as the resurgence of once-discarded vinyl records and turntables—allowing for a fresh approach and an appreciation of the past.
Like these trends, most industries seem to move in similar cycles, allowing their practitioners to learn and appreciate what has gone before them and apply that knowledge in their future endeavors. The profession of dentistry is no exception. Typically, denture restoratives and the use of acrylic and resin materials have often been viewed by technicians of my generation as relics the past, yet they remain the standard for all removable and fixed detachable work. Over the decades, the denture restorative market has had very few peaks or drops with the use of these materials, allowing them to remain viable options, much to the advantage of our profession.
While it remains true that most technicians who trained and/or graduated from professional programs from the 1980s and up until the beginning of the 21st century predominantly approached ceramics as the new, fun, and exciting art form in dental technology, we are now experiencing a return to the acrylic past. It is hard to believe now that using a brush or bottle of powder to create ceramic teeth pushed the esthetic dental world further than we ever anticipated. Yet as esthetic options evolved, so did the need to expand our use of all materials.
Although most of us who came into the profession during this period delved into the world of ceramics, a void was certainly created in the denture field as a majority of talented and knowledgeable denture technicians aged out and failed to be replaced by a new generation. Arguably, this 30-year gap created such a need that recently the denture market has exploded and led to the resurgence of the specialized denture technician.
Today, when I visit dental technology classes and educational institutions, I am pleasantly surprised to find a growing trend in the denture field, with a majority of students now demonstrating interest in this industry as a return to the past emerges. With the evolution of technology, current denture progress is growing rapidly among today's young technicians. Programs like IDT's own International Digital Denture Symposium are geared to this revolution, and lectures throughout the US and Canada are filled with technicians as eager to learn about the newest procedures and materials in the denture field as in any other areas of our work. This return to the past is an advancement in our profession. Today's technician needs to be well rounded in all areas, and future successful technicians must master each phase of dental restoration. Yes, some of the materials we have known and worked with have been around for ages, but their uses, specifications, and places within our workflow have evolved. We too must embrace and learn from the past in order to advance and grow to the betterment of the dental community.
Peter Pizzi, MDT, CDT