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Inside Dental Technology
June 2024
Volume 15, Issue 5

Technological Advances Lead to Dental Advances

Executive Editor Daniel Alter, MSc, MDT, CDT |

Dentistry has seen a dramatic increase in its use of technology, particularly when it comes to digital data capture, aggregate, and usage in diagnostics and treatment planning. Dental laboratory technology has also evolved in terms of how we fabricate dental prosthetics today and the levels of consistency and repeatability that we can achieve. I am impressed by the advances that are here and available, but even more so by the advances that are on the horizon.

The services that we can perform for our dental patients today were outside of our reality just a decade ago. Although dental prosthesis fabrication has always relied on prominent levels of experience, expertise, and knowledge, coupled with artistry and an understanding of material science, there were still challenges that had to be overcome on a regular basis, particularly due to variables in the analogue fabrication process regarding how materials behaved. Depending on temperature, water-liquid ratios, working time, proper mixing, etc, these materials could expand or shrink and thereby affect the end results of the dental prosthetic, particularly, the precision and accuracy of the fit. There was an art and science to how laboratories contended with these variables to achieve the highest level of excellence for the patient, but nevertheless it was a fluid effort—one that needed to be observed and manipulated on a regular basis.

Digital means have alleviated the process of contending with many of these variables because a digital technology method of fabrication is a static process that does not exhibit many of the variables we had before and, in fact, has given birth to a new category of materials that are better and potentially kinder to the patients' dentition; time will tell. Many providers are consistently investing and working on the next generation of restorative materials and technologies to strive for better processes and outcomes. We can now accomplish more in productivity, while maintaining the geometrical stability of our dental prosthetics and still exercising our artistic talents to create lifelike restorations. The means by which we can scale our production is also a benefit to the laboratory, but still allows us to maintain best-in-class restorative materials and esthetics. Astute dental laboratory owners or managers must keep their fingers on the pulse of technology and assess the best path forward for their laboratories, their dentist clientele, and their dental patients. Not to age myself, but I remember the days of rotary phones or coin operated public phones, which at the time served their purpose. However, we simply could not imagine back then what we would accomplish with our smart phones and their portability and access to so much more today.

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