5 Reasons Why CAD/CAM and Digital Dentistry Has Improved the Patient Experience

When I opened On Q Dentistry in 2016, one of the main goals we made was to modernize the office processes. We already had digital x-rays and an electronic health record implemented by the previous owners, but I wanted to take the next step forward. We started in 2017 with the purchase of our first intraoral scanning system. It was an easy way to transition into digital dentistry. We did mostly single porcelain crowns and they were sent to a lab for fabrication. As we became more familiar with digital technology we wanted to bring our lab fabrication in house, so in 2018 we purchased a Planmeca in-office scanner, milling system, crown design software and porcelain oven. This was an amazing jump into same day crowns, digital design and manufacturing as well as custom implant crowns. Our latest addition has been a new scanner which is lightning fast, more accurate and scans in color! We also invested in a digital cone beam x-ray unit which will open up a whole new practice flow by allowing safer and more accurate treatment and diagnosis of many dental issues. More to come on that next time – on to the list!

5. No more messy, goopy impressions. There are many patients we encounter that have severe anxiety about dental impressions. Poor past experiences, a bad gag reflex, or the feeling of being helpless or unable to breath are common reasons impressions can be a hassle or impossible. With our intraoral digital scanner, the need for dental impressions has become minimal. Almost any procedure can be completed digitally and with minimal issues with a simple scan.

4. No need for temporary crowns! Most traditional crown and bridge procedures used to require a week or two of time where your tooth was in a temporary crown or bridge, a second visit to remove it and cement the new prosthetic. Then the rare case that it didn’t fit or the color was of – guess what? Back in the temporary and a new crown needs to be made. Now we have the ability to fabricate the final crown while you watch TV or read a magazine or even go run an errand or two. If we don’t like the outcome it is within our ability to quickly change the color or re-scan and make a new crown in just a few minutes. The best part is that there is no need for a second visit or additional shots of anesthetic.

3. Quality control. On rare occasions, things happen that prevent dentists from getting a perfect fit with a crown, implant prosthetic, or bridge. There is nothing more frustrating for me than having to tell a patient that you are unhappy with the work and that something needs to be sent back or redone. With CAD/CAM technology, I am able to see the results of our digital scan and decide right at chair side if it is adequate for production. If I make a mistake with a color or shade issue on a tooth, it can be corrected in 20 minutes instead of 7 days. It has also allowed me to be very critical of my work and improve daily in order to perfect my technique and seek ways to change old habits from “the old days”.

1. Material selection. Dentistry is always changing and new products are constantly being developed. We are now able to translate this to same day dental procedures and CAD/CAM prosthetics. Different materials lend variable strengths, esthetics and durability so the clinician can utilize their best judgment for an individual patient’s situation. No more one size fits all approach. They say that if you only use a hammer everything starts to look like a nail. I love that I can vary my material and design approach to each patient’s needs and expectations. Utilizing digital dentistry has truly opened a new avenue at our practice and our patients are reaping the benefits through better care and outcomes.