Why 3D dental scanners are a must-have for dental practices

The idea to use CAD/CAM technology in dentistry was conceptualised by Francois Duret in the 1970’s with the intention of minimising practitioner’s work flow. Over the last 4 decades, the concept has been aggressively tuned and refined to introduce an array of benefits that outweigh those associated with traditional methods, finally achieving Duret’s goals. The 9% adoption of CAD/CAM dental technology in the UK implies the technology has slowly progressed through the diffusion of innovation model to a point it can no longer be considered bleeding edge technology, rather an obvious must-have for dental professionals as pointed out by early adaptors. Although market adaptation has been slow, aggressive product refinements have made the wait worthwhile, with three key areas of improvements in 3D dental scanners being explored below.

Ease of use

  • Manufacturers have been highly responsive to market demands over recent years, creating products that cater to various segments within the market rather than “one product to meet all your needs”. This has given clinicians the opportunity to pick systems appropriate to their practice and preferences increasing overall ease of use. The clear segmentation has not only introduced a healthy variety of products to the market, but has introduced products tailored to the user’s needs, technological threshold and most recently, their budgets. Essentially, specialised software is now available for: visualisation, archiving, diagnosis, and implantology purposes in contrast to the previous focus on single restorations.
  • In response to market growth and increased product availability, vendors are no longer trying to lock buyers in their propriety systems to prevent cross system integration. Rather, open architecture systems are more prevalent in the market, allowing flexibility and interchangeability of existing software and products. This has been simplified through utilisation of stereo lithography (STL) format, which has been remarkable in increasing flexibility and ease of use for users who alternate systems or work with digitised dental labs.
  • The only traditional process still required with majority of dental CAD/CAM equipment is an impression of the maxillary and mandibular dental arch, with a bite registration. The remainder of any process can be digitised, allowing dentists to significantly simplify their workflow, improving productivity and efficiency, and ensuring their chair time is highly optimised. Interviews and secondary research undertaken identify this as a key benefit sought by dental professionals due to the overwhelming workload associated with the profession.

Accuracy

  • Digital scanners no longer require clinicians to place the scanner on the dentition, and take several images of the teeth. Rather, the process is more or less seamless and offers digital calibrations that are 1:1 with real life models at a fraction of the time and effort associated with traditional methods. The improved accuracy has made it impossible to miss important details, in turn offering a multitude of opportunities for dentists in areas such as diagnosis and treatment planning. Furthermore, this is likely to allow dentists to integrate scans into their patients electronic health records, to enable easier transmission, sharing and access of data anywhere in the world at a touch of a button.

Cost

  • From the research gathered, price was identified as a key barrier to adaptation by respondents considering the move towards digital dentistry. This comes as no surprise as a few years ago, purchasing a dental scanner could easily set a practice back by a minimum of £25,000. Conversely, as scanners have gained further momentum in the market, manufacturers have worked to identify methods of maintaining scanning quality whilst reducing the overall costs for the buyer. This has led towards a downward pressure on cost, potentially eliminating one of the key barriers to adaptation and allowing the dental community to exploit the myriad of opportunities created by dental scanners.

The shifting focus from product to customer centric production has introduced a remarkable change in the digital dentistry market. The exciting opportunities created by this evolution has introduced great prospects for dentist’s business models and workflows and is undoubtedly one of their keys to a competitive advantage. For more information or any questions about 3D dental scanners, feel free to contact us and we’ll be in touch with you shortly, alternatively, subscribe to our newsletter to never miss an update.

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