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Inside Dental Technology
December 2020
Volume 11, Issue 11

Bold Digital Impression Business Model Pays Dividends

Laboratory places intraoral scanners in dental practices

Golden Ceramic Dental Lab (GCDL) has been growing by approximately 35% each of the past several years, and President Ben Topaz attributes that primarily to digital technology. "Digital technology really saved the whole profession in many aspects," says Topaz, whose full-service laboratory in Prospect Heights, Illinois, employs 35 people. "From scanning in the office to production in the laboratory, digital technology has created a degree of accuracy that no technician can match by hand. It helps us produce a product that always fits better and looks better, and creates it more efficiently."

As GCDL continues to expand, Topaz has been able to overcome the challenge of finding skilled technicians by hiring art designers and CAD specialists outside of the industry.

"We teach them morphology, and how a mouth looks and functions," Topaz says.

Still, dentists have been slower to adopt digital technology. Topaz found his technicians still pouring impressions, making models, and trimming dies before digitizing cases in a desktop scanner.

"That still leaves a lot of variables that can lead to mistakes," Topaz says.

Cost seemed to be the biggest barrier for many dentists, so Topaz contemplated an idea last year: What if he purchased intraoral scanners for his dentists? He sat down with his accountants to calculate the financial implications. Costs could be reduced with shipping, intake, and the model room. Remakes would be decreased. New revenue would be added via a small fee for printed models.

"We determined that if we placed scanners in offices that send a certain amount of work to us per month, within 14 to 16 months, those scanners would be paid off," Topaz says. "After that, they would produce profits."

Topaz now has placed more than 20 scanners in dentists' offices. They sign contracts acknowledging that they must insure the scanner and that it still belongs to GCDL, and they commit to send a certain amount of work per month. The scanners are programmed to send files only to GCDL.

"Every office has not only surpassed the required threshold but actually increased their business with us by approximately 30%," Topaz says. "Most offices work with more than one laboratory, but the moment they get comfortable with a scanner, they use it for everything. So our return on investment is even better than we anticipated, and our remake rate decreased from 4.7% to 1.2% or 1.3%."

Topaz's scanner of choice is Dentsply Sirona's Primescan TM. With its Smart Pixel Sensor and dynamic depth scan technology for perfect sharpness, even in up to 20-mm depth, Primescan delivers what Topaz says are the best-quality digital impressions of any scanner.

"It is the top scanner on the market when it comes to results," he says. "It is the nicest scan we receive, with the most detail. Primescan is just outstanding."

GCDL also utilizes Dentsply Sirona mills, desktop scanners, zirconia, denture printing materials, abutments, and more.

"Dentsply Sirona has been a great partner with support, knowledge, marketing—everything," Topaz says. "You always feel supported by Dentsply Sirona when it comes to materials and technology. I have five numbers where I can reach Dentsply Sirona representatives if anything goes wrong. That is important because we need our workflow to keep moving at all times."

GCDL's strategy with intraoral scanner implementation has been to have an expert technician from the laboratory handle the installation and initial training and then bring in trainers from Dentsply Sirona or a vendor 2 to 3 weeks later to provide a more advanced education including implants, partial dentures, and more.

"This strategy has worked very well," Topaz says. "Offices learn how to operate the scanner, get used to holding it, gain experience on actual patients, and then master it with Dentsply Sirona's help."

In part because of his intraoral scanner program, Topaz anticipates 50% growth in 2021.

"Every few months, Dentsply Sirona launches another innovative, difference-making product," he says. "Partnering with them is so exciting."

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