The Digital Revolution in Lab Technology

Things certainly have changed in the 45 years that I have been a dental technician. I think our industry has never been more exciting than it is right now. Digital laboratory technology is rapidly evolving and this has completely changed the way we design and fabricate dental restorations.

Although most of the impressions we receive are still made with PVS materials and poured up with stone, much of the workflow beyond that point is now digital. The stone model is digitally scanned, the restoration is digitally designed and digitally milled. Milling gives us the ability to adjust the occlusal and proximal contacts to within .01 mm. We have adjustment settings for every client we work with and we fine-tune those settings as we get feedback from you.

To be sure, there is still a lot of human skill involved in finishing, layering, staining and glazing your restorations, but much of the workflow is now digital. With the advent of digital impressioning systems, we will be able to eliminate the inaccuracies inherent in traditional impressioning and poured models. Digital impressioning also makes it easier to create diagnostic wax-ups and allows us to digitally layer the wax-up over the preparation model to duplicate the wax-up in the final restoration design.

Digital technology has also enabled revolutionary changes in dental restorative materials. Ten years ago, dental laboratories were primarily producing porcelain fused to metal and full cast crowns and bridges. Today, we are producing very few of these metal-based restorations…Doctors are instead prescribing highly esthetic lithium disilicate (eMax) and zirconia restorations. These monolithic options are not only better looking, but also stronger than PFMs. For very esthetically demanding situations, our expert technicians can layer porcelain onto these new materials for the ultimate in natural esthetics.

We have been advising you over the last few years to allocate your money where it is needed by primarily prescribing monolithic crowns and prescribing layered anteriors only when needed. A word to the wise about preparation technique for these newer materials: Shoulder preparations are no longer necessary. In fact, they are contraindicated. The new standard is an exaggerated chamfer approximately 1mm wide. This preparation gives the best combination of esthetics and strength and marginal accuracy for these new materials.

For more information, call us at 651-407-0491.

Randy Renstrom, CDT
CEO Renstrom Dental Studio, Inc

Renstrom is NDA member.

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