Digital Denture Insiders: Eric D. Kukucka, DD
The Denture Center treats patients through a collaborative approach as part of a team that will rehabilitate patients with high-quality digital technology to fabricate removable prosthetics, says Owner Eric D. Kukucka, DD. What makes The Denture Center unique is its relationships with global dental manufacturers; as an alpha and beta tester, it is at the forefront of the industry. The laboratory's goal is to not just manufacture a denture, but also to provide a better quality of life and the ultimate patient experience, and the 3Shape digital workflow helps accomplish that.
1. How would you describe your transition from analog to digital?
I was outsourcing my clinical records and receiving digitally fabricated occlusal rims, mono-block try-ins, and milled dentures. This technology is so advanced and beneficial in its capability to evaluate these records, and manipulate and reposition the occlusal rims and digitally designed teeth, all through the use of internet-based screen-sharing software. These exceptional and time-saving features prompted me to ask, "What else? What's next?" I acquired 3Shape design software and eventually a desktop scanner, printer, milling machine, intraoral scanner, another desktop scanner, and two additional intraoral scanners. I have seen an increase in production of up to 50% and a decrease in post-operative adjustments of 78%. Patient acceptance is also significantly higher, and for the first time in years they are actually excited about the process.
2. When choosing a digital workflow, what are some things to consider?
Consider how the data will be acquired: via intraoral scanning or conventional methods? How will the clinician be sending these records and communicate with the laboratory? Will you be delivering a milled, printed, or hybrid (printed base with milled/carded teeth) digital denture?
3. What advice would you give to someone looking to go digital?
The best time to start is yesterday! Technicians should consider reaching out to an experienced professional to partner and collaborate with on a few digital denture cases, to gain a mentor, experience the innovation, and determine what workflows, software, and materials will be best suited for you and your clinicians.
4. How has the 3Shape digital workflow impacted patients?
The decrease in post-operative adjustments translates into much higher patient satisfaction rates. Many also have commented on increased comfort due to uniform thickness as well as the accuracy of the fitting surface. However, the most significant impact has been in immediate denture and existing denture workflows. With Smile Design technology, the patient has the ability to see an accurate virtual representation of what their new prosthetic rehabilitation will look like, prior to treatment. This has not only increased case acceptance but improved the patient experience and confidence. The final outcome has moved some patients to tears; for many of them, it is the first time in their lives they have the smile and facial appearance they've always wanted. With respect to immediate denture workflows, utilizing intraoral scanning technology for the remaining dentition and soft tissues has eliminated a significant amount of fear. Patients can now be treated in as few as two appointments; with today's busy schedules, reducing appointment time by up to 50% is extremely attractive. The overall feedback has been life changing. Patients are increasingly proud and confident in their removable prosthetics. Digital denture technology is largely responsible for removing the stigma attached to prosthetics.