A powerful addition to the dental laboratory’s portfolio: digital dentures

digital denturesDigital dentures enable dental laboratory’s the opportunity to provide a sophisticated service to dentists, Julie Mroziak says.

Dental technology without digital design and manufacturing is hardly imaginable today. Particularly in the fabrication of fixed restorations, CAD/CAM support is increasingly ‘standard procedure’.

However, the situation is different when looking at full dentures. Or is it?

In our interview, Julie Mroziak, vice president of Dentsply Sirona Lab, explains how dental technicians can now extend their digital expertise to include removable dentures, significantly broadening and strengthening their CAD/CAM portfolios.

The CAD/CAM workflow has long since been routine in the production of fixed restorations. How are the practical benefits of the digital transformation becoming evident?

Julie Mroziak: In crown and bridge prosthodontics, digital procedures are now fully established almost across the board.

On the other hand, the fabrication of removable dentures has remained a domain of the analogue workflow.

Classic complete prosthodontics is not only time-consuming, it also requires a great deal of skill and experience of dental technicians. In my discussions with numerous laboratory owners, I have learned that when it comes to demanding tasks – as in complete prosthodontics – our shortage of young laboratory technician talent is becoming increasingly obvious.

Against this background, it is desirable to significantly simplify the provision of full dentures. We can do this by transforming the relevant laboratory workflow into a digital one.

What were the steps that culminated in this development? And how exactly does this digital process work?

Julie Mroziak: We adopted the digital dentures topic as early as last year. This was with the Lucitone 3D Print denture base material and the IPN 3D Portrait inspired digital tooth line. It is part of our cooperation with Carbon in the USA.

We were initially working with the actual manufacturing process, that is, the CAM part of the job.

Since then we have moved over to the design part, the CAD part of the job. Now we can offer a comprehensive CAD/CAM workflow today.

The determining factor is our Inlab software update to version 20.0. This update allows the laboratory to first design full dentures and then to manufacture them using one of several available production methods.

A particularly interesting detail is that there is no need for change in the dental practice. Impressions are still taken using the well-established methods.

The digital workflow in the laboratory is based on the familiar in-office procedures, which directly strengthens the digital competence the dental technician.

With digital dentures, technicians can provide a sophisticated service for dentists. All without forcing them to modify their own proven and well-defined workflow.

But what about the workflow in the dental laboratory? Won’t it become more complicated?

Julie Mroziak: On the contrary. And that’s the beauty of the thing.

The ease of handling, known to users all over the world as the hallmark of the Inlab software, has been retained in version 20.0 with its integrated complete prosthodontics workflow.

Specifically, the software guides the dental technician through the process, step-by-step. From the scan with the extraoral scanner Ineos X5 and the design of the denture base and teeth all the way to the production stage.

This greatly simplifies the entire process and produces reliable results directly.

At the same time, we are taking the laboratory’s freedom to make its own decisions very, very seriously. This is why our system is an open system even in complete prosthodontics. It supports multiple paths to reach the desired result.

How exactly would we have to imagine this to work?

Julie Mroziak: As already known from other application areas of the Inlab system, its full-denture indication also provides for seamless, validated, and open modes.

We are convinced of beneficial interaction of our components and materials. We develop and refine them as a coherent overall concept. So we always recommend the seamless workflow.

This designates a process in which you stay within the Dentsply Sirona system and use the corresponding materials from Dentsply Sirona. From the Ineos X5 scanner and Inlab software, to the Inlab MC X5 milling unit.

In terms of materials, we offer the Lucitone 199 Denture Base Disc for milling the prosthesis base and the IPN 3D Digital Denture Teeth, which was specially developed for the digital workflow.

However, those who wish can also work in validated mode and use products from our validated partners. And since Inlab is still an open system, it is also possible to use other open components from other manufacturers.

We provide a file export in STL format for the transfer of data.

You mentioned dental technicians’ ‘digital competence’. How can this competence be useful when communicating with the dental office?

Julie Mroziak: Within the cooperation between the laboratory and the dental practice, laboratory technicians have the role of material specialist for quite some time now.

Many practitioners therefore closely consult with their laboratory to determine which material they should use and when. Or which material is preferred for a given adhesive technology.

The digital transformation has noticeably broadened the range of competence of dental technicians in many respects. It effectively turns them into digitisation or workflow experts.

Because let’s face it, the initial impetus for the success of CAD/CAM came from the laboratory.

Many dental technicians are leading their customers on their way to the digital practice. So it is only logical that the digital full denture is also created under the leadership of the laboratory.

To me, the advantage is obvious. The laboratory technician becomes an indispensable partner for the dental practice in yet another key area. In this respect, I see this expansion of indications as a real gain for the dental laboratory’s portfolio.

To discover more, visit Dentsplysirona.com/lab.

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