Going with the digital workflow

Tom Goldsmith explains how dentists are updating their digital workflowJulian English quizzes Tom Goldsmith about how he advises dentists with their approach to digital workflow.

Tom Goldsmith is a Henry Schein expert in digital dentistry and the digital workflow. He’s been with the company for more than two years, helping dentists to step into the digital workflow.

‘I don’t really worry about products at the initial stages of talking to a dentist,’ said Tom. ‘It is all about discerning how deep the dentist wants to go into the digital workflow. Then we’ll find a suitable product afterwards.’

To help determine the dentist’s needs, Tom asks questions including:

  • Do you want to mill in-house?
  • Does your practice offer dental implants?
  • Do you want to do your own implant restorations?
  • Do you do aligner treatment?

Once Tom knows what the practitioner is currently doing and what their intention is in the future, he then recommends the most appropriate piece of equipment.

Digital workflow

Julian English: In five years, every dental practice in the UK will have an intraoral scanner – is this right?

Tom Goldsmith: In my experience, intraoral scanners populate nearly 20% of the market currently. There are many additional options for the user of an intraoral scanner, from in-house milling to orthodontic aligner planning.

Julian: What’s second on the list of things to buy for dentists?

Tom: Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) has a good return on investment. In addition, there is the convenience factor. Around my area (London) there are a lot of scanning centres, but it is not always easy or convenient for the patient to come to central London due to cost and time.

CBCTs are multi-use as they take orthopantomograms, too. Indeed, if a practice is doing any implant work, with the use of a CBCT scan they can accurately discover defects, measure bone, and so on. In addition, the practice can become a referral centre for local practices that don’t have CBCT.

Digital workflow

Julian: What are the typical levels of digital workflow being chosen these days?

Tom: If you are doing normal restorative work, there are three points: impression, which is now digital; then design; and finally manufacture, which dental laboratories typically complete.

Obviously, with an in-house computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) machine, the dentist can design and manufacture in-house, but this is done on a case-by-case basis, and many practices combine in-house and out-sourced solutions within their digital workflow.

Julian: What are the reasons to consider a digital workflow?

Tom: If we take the example of an E.max LR6 crown, this can be created with minimum effort at the chairside in 30 minutes and fitted the same day. Patients love it. However, if one needs a more aesthetic job, for example, with beautifully layered porcelain, a laboratory will always be the best option.

One of the main reasons for customers choosing to go digital is the patient experience. Patients never say ‘I had a great impression taken today’. But they will remark on going to a surgery, having their mouth scanned, and then walking out an hour later with a new crown milled in front of their eyes. In these days of social media, digital scanning and milling differentiates one practice from another.


Digital intraoral scanning and digital X-rays together deliver extraordinary clarity and accuracy. If you add to this CAD/CAM software that can merge the surface scan from a digital impression with a 3D digital X-ray to give the dentist a complete picture of the oral situation above and below the gum line, you have a fantastic aid to diagnose, treatment plan and deliver treatments and a great base for dentist-patient communication.

This is why digital dentistry changes the way we deliver dentistry on high streets up and down the country.

For more on digital dentistry, visit hsdequipment.co.uk.

Published first in Dentistry magazine. If interested in signing up to receive Dentistry magazine, visit www.fmc.co.uk.

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