Professional Courtesy: High Tide for High Tech Thomas Giacobbi, DDS, FAGD, Editorial Director, Dentaltown Magazine

High Tide for High Tech

by Thomas Giacobbi, DDS, FAGD, Editorial Director, Dentaltown Magazine
I have recently returned from the IDS meeting in Cologne, Germany. It is the largest dental meeting on the planet and it happens once every two years. The numbers are staggering - 2,058 exhibitors and more than 125,000 attendees from 149 countries. To put things in perspective, the 2013 Chicago Midwinter Meeting had 600 exhibitors and 29,000 attendees. The large scale of this meeting is not only impressive but it is the best perspective on the current state of our profession that you can get at a live event. In fact, as a dentist from the U.S., it is a glimpse into the future because many new technologies arrive in the U.S. last due in part to FDA regulatory hurdles.

I came away from the meeting with a few observations about the state of our industry. One of the most profound shifts is the explosion of CAD/CAM in dental offices and labs. There were two big players in the industry that had in-office systems on display: Planmeca and Carestream (for a sneak peek at these systems see sidebar). Specific launch dates for the U.S. market were not available prior to publication of this article. There are also many credible players already in the digital impression category - 3M True Definition Scanner, Cadent iTero and 3Shape TRIOS (now available in color). Conservative estimates indicate that we will have 12+ systems within the next 12 months.

Choices are great for competition and innovation, but this can often create paralysis by analysis as dentists are now trying to sort out which solution is the best fit for their particular situation. I think the first question to answer is: Are you willing to do some lab work on your end to provide same-day final restorations? I can say from personal experience this is both extremely rewarding as well as a tedious part of the in-office CAD/CAM experience. If you are not sure of the answer to that question, get a system that can be adapted to inoffice milling in the future. Most systems have this option even when their primary marketing is for digital impressions. The final bit of advice I would offer is to insist that you have a live-patient demonstration. I watched a gentleman from 3Shape at the Chicago Midwinter Meeting scan his own mouth and it was impressive that a scan could be that fast and accurate when he was unable to see what he was doing! Models are fine to get a general sense but I would not buy any device without a live-patient demonstration.

I think that many make the mistake of looking at this technology as a "lab killer." While some dentists have moved a significant portion of their labfabricated restorations in house, there is still a need for the dental lab. In fact, some of the smart labs are working deals to subsidize some of the cost of a digital impression system in exchange for your loyalty. Even without these incentive programs, labs will move quickly to capture dentists using CAD/CAM as clients because they know the technology yields better results and fewer remakes. The lab can save on labor and increase output using technology, while the dentist might enjoy more competitive lab fees and faster case turnaround.

Without a doubt, this conversation will continue the debate of closed versus open systems. While I stand firmly in the open camp, there are some companies that will be reluctant to change. For more detail on my position, read my January 2013 column on this topic. Please be sure to share your feedback and comments on this article online at The digital editions of our magazine provide the ability to comment on every article.

If you would like to see a preview of some of the interesting technology I experienced at the meeting and get a flavor for the IDS, please watch three short videos posted from the meeting.. Search Term: IDS Videos &f=311&t=202233&v=1


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