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Technology, Product Knowledge

How to Best Enter into Digital Dentistry and What to Consider (Lab-side)

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Although CAD/CAM has been cementing its place within the dental workflow in recent years, the hurdles for clinics and labs are different. While there are shared points for both sides to overcome, the focus around these points may differ.


Laboratory technicians may have several questions and hesitations before going digital.


As a lab, what are the hurdles you must overcome to best enter digital dentistry?


What are the most common mistakes labs make with these hurdles?


These are both valid questions to ask before digitalizing your lab. We provide you descriptions of several hurdles technicians may face and need to consider when starting to use CAD/CAM and the most common mistakes involved with the hurdles.


Hurdle 1: Cost


The first hurdle to overcome for laboratories is the equipment cost. There are times when purchasing the latest technology just simply doesn’t fit within your budget. On top of the initial cost, purchasers need to look at return-on-investment. Will the technology pay for itself in a short time frame or over a longer period of time?


Mistake 1: Not making the switch


Thinking something is too expensive without looking at options will prevent you from taking the step and switching over to something new. Although there may be a high initial cost involved, you must pay attention to the ROI. If your lab will be able to quickly make up for the initial equipment cost, then the initial cost may no longer be a true issue. There are also several different prices out there; you should carefully browse the different options to see which one best fits within your budget. Plus, with technology continuously improving and more and more labs switching over to digital dentistry, can your lab even afford to not make the switch?


Hurdle 2: Brand choice


The second hurdle is choosing a brand. There are many companies and programs available to choose from. You may fear choosing the ‘wrong’ brand or the wrong system.


Mistake 2: Quick decision


The biggest mistake when choosing a brand is to make a quick decision. You must first understand your lab’s needs. You must also understand the compatibility with your choice and your potential or current clients. Are you looking at an open or closed system? What will best fit with the direction your lab is heading? Taking your time to research and find the greatest match will pay in the long run.


Hurdle 3: Technology use

The third hurdle is with the technology itself. Can you learn how to properly use it? Will it be too hard to switch from the traditional, hand-designed methods to the digital methods?


Mistake 3: Lack of understanding


Using technology without actually knowing how to fully use it could be detrimental to your lab. Understanding how to use the design software, CAD, to help make restorations and the machining software, CAM, to comprehend milling techniques is crucial. Having a CAD/CAM “expert” in the lab will provide you with the skills needed to produce quality restorations.


Hurdle 4: Collaboration


Collaboration is of growing importance for digital dentistry. Clinics also have to know how to use the equipment on their end and provide quality input to the labs before a lab can replicate the proper output. Therefore, finding valuable collaboration partners for labs is another hurdle.


Mistake 4: Weak communication


Not spending the time to foster and mature relationships with your clients will hurt your lab’s prospects. Two benefits to digital dentistry are the speed and accuracy of the technology. Understanding each other’s weak points and the expectations you have of each other will help with creating the perfect restoration without errors. Not only is maintaining strong relationships with clients important, you also need to successfully market yourself to attract new clients, improving your ROI.


Knowing these hurdles and mistakes, what should you do?


Well, you should take the time to learn about the different brands available. There is information everywhere containing reviews and how-to videos. After you make a choice, get to know the equipment. Understand how to use the programs to their full capacity. After this point, work on building strong relationships with your clients; your partners. Make sure they also understand how everything works and what your expectations are. If you keep these tips in mind, your lab will easily integrate itself into the digital world of dentistry!


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