Technology Lends a Hand in Hard Times
We live in a world filled with technology, and never has it been more relevant than now, during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Technology has afforded us the ability to continue to connect as professionals, individuals, and social beings. So many of us who have needed to shelter in place are able to remain productive and acquire greater levels of knowledge and skill through online education and connectivity. Video communication technology has kept us connected with the outside world relatively seamlessly and has allowed dental laboratories to scale back the number of personnel who are physically present in order to comply with social distancing guidelines. In today's digital world, this modality has permitted laboratories to continue to serve their dentist clients and their patients safely and effectively. It furthermore has offered the opportunity for laboratories to collaborate with their clients and work up large cases in real time and at a distance, which ultimately improves case outcomes and solidifies relationships between laboratories and dentists. Technology has provided us with unique ways to adapt and stay nimble during these challenging times.
What kind of future-thinking solutions and outside-the-box answers has technology offered you and your laboratory? And where can improvements be made to your existing infrastructure and workflows? These are questions all dental laboratory owners, managers, and technicians should be asking themselves in order to continue moving forward while also enhancing their operations and market offerings. These are the same questions posed in this IDT Tech Issue, which focuses on technology that can help you and your laboratory achieve creative and efficient results. Leading industry experts provide updates on topics such as virtual and augmented reality in dentistry; the use of specialized segmented wavelengths in 3D printing and the possibilities for multilayer properties in one print; the technologies used to create 3D printed ceramics and zirconia; and lastly, the use of 3D printing polymers that exhibit a "4-dimensional" property. These technological advancements will undoubtedly elevate the profession and the dental prosthetic workflow; nevertheless, the human touch and what I consider "dental intelligence" are the essential elements that fuel all our efforts in functional and esthetic restorative dentistry. We explore this sentiment in depth this month in our feature story about the relationship between technology and artistry.
One thing is sure: the norms of yesterday will not be the norms of tomorrow. We as people and professionals need to adapt to these changes in order to survive and thrive. I truly hope a sense of some normalcy has returned to you—or soon will—and I am wishing for everyone to stay positive, healthy, and safe. We are all in this together and have a very resilient industry; this too shall pass, and we will be stronger and better for it.
Daniel Alter, MSc, MDT, CDT
Executive Editor • firstname.lastname@example.org