George Antonopoulos has been an avid user of digital technology in his dental laboratory for more than a decade, particularly in the field of orthodontics. He shares with us his thoughts on why he thinks both dental clinics and laboratories should go digital.
When did you begin working with digital impressions and how has the learning curve been so far?
For the last few years, I have been the CTO of FN Orthodontics Laboratory in Greece CEO & founder of ADOME Technologies, and I have dedicated myself entirely to Orthodontic and Mechanical Engineering research. Beginning with Ortho-Dental technician work in digital technologies and combining CBCT and Cephalometric data with CAD systems, we are targeting the progress and evolution of new axioms up to the rules of bio-mechanics and their analysis.
My first experience with digital impressions was in 2013, during the development of a project related to the IDB (indirect bonding) technique. I was one of the very first Greek technicians who brought the first 3D printed model from Germany to a Greek Laboratory. It was for an upper jaw therapy case study, where the scanning was made in a prosthetic laboratory and came directly from an analog impression. I was amazed when I held the model in my hand. That achievement of digital technology seemed like a lie to me.
Since then, there has been rapid and impressive advancement of that technology which has brought revolution to our field. Digital imaging has become a necessity nowadays. I think that we have moved on to the next generation of orthodontic science and technology. Every treatment begins and ends with digital imaging as its fundamental core.
According to you, what are the biggest benefits of digital impressions as opposed to the traditional ones concerning your field?
- It’s an additive and an editable process. In an analog impression, you must retake the entire impression from the beginning if blood gets on the margins. In digital impressions, you crop out the affected areas and make partial re-scans wherever inadequate data exists.
- Digital process works independently of sequence. It goes tooth by tooth. During an analog impression, you must follow a specific order to capture multiple preparations. During digital impressions, each tooth has a Prepare-Scan-Save process. You prepare one tooth, scan it, save it, and that process is repeated for every tooth.
- You work independently of time restrictions, meaning that you can build a model over time. During the analog process, and because of the chemical and mechanical properties of the impression materials, you have only minutes to finalize the process. So, within 3-4 minutes, you must complete everything. During the digital process, you can prepare and scan each tooth at a different time, and build a model gradually in hours or even days.
- During a digital impression, you can reverse previous actions. You can repeat the process or correct any mistake in seconds.
- There are cases where many patients cannot follow the analog process. It is a common situation to have an intolerant patient because of the analog impression materials. Since the scanner’s heads are designed to be small, everything is easier and more acceptable for the patient.
- After you complete the process, you can show the results to the patient in seconds. Important aspects of the examination such as problems, anomalies and malfunctions can be presented in real time. This is a strong communication bridge and benefits both the patient and doctor.
- According to our work and experience in our laboratory, FN Orthodontics, communication can be accelerated with an accurate data-exchange platform and everything can be stored for years without the need for a storage space nor physical folders for patients’ personal information.
What were your considerations when choosing an intraoral scanner, and why did you eventually choose the Medit i500?
Speed and accuracy, high performance, ease of use, great usability, affordable price, versatility, extensive applicability are the main advantages of this scanner. Combined with real-time support and constant upgrades in its software, it is the must-buy product for the job.
Could you share with us your experience with the Medit i500 and what kind of cases you usually use it / plan to use it for?
The Medit i500 is a pure high-technology scanning instrument that solves so many problems each time we use it. It has been a great tool in our laboratory and has been used in many cases. Most of all, we provide this service to our doctors in their clinics, directly up to their hands, with the ambition to make them realize why they must follow digital technology practices, and assist them in switching to the digital era. When we showcase this product to our associates, they are impressed by its robustness.
Is there anything you hope to be able to do with the Medit i500 that you’ve yet to achieve?
Digital Orthodontics and Digital Prosthetics are huge fields. Many tasks must be done with accuracy, speed and responsibility. We always believe in teamwork. Our ambition is to find, through the web portal link of Medit i500, integrations with other systems which will accelerate our therapy plans and projects quickly and efficiently. As far as I know, Medit has achieved this step and day by day we find new integrations in our database.
What advice would you give to your peers who may be considering making the switch to digital impressions?
The answer is simple:
If anybody thinks that there is no reason to use a digital scanner, then they should come to our offices and try it for themselves. I will show them the procedure in a few minutes and then leave them to do it by themselves. Only then will they understand how easy, comfortable and simple it is. Time is precious and we must go forward to earn more time in our personal daily schedule. Digital applications don’t make our work harder or more expensive. It makes all of us more brilliant, safer and more accurate. The choice belongs to you.