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Dental teams have faced many challenges over the past several years – in particular, how to care for patients and keep their office doors open amid a global pandemic. One approach was for practices to minimize patients’ time in the office, and several tools and technologies have aided that effort.
Perhaps the most obvious example of a timesaving technology is single-visit dentistry. Today, CAD/CAM technology allows dental teams to scan, design and mill a crown in just a few hours, eliminating the need for a temporary crown and a second appointment for placement.
Planmeca CAD/CAM Technology
One company that’s been continually upgrading its CAD/CAM technology is Planmeca. At the start of 2023, the technology manufacturer launched Planmeca PlanMill 60 S milling unit.
The Planmeca FIT Plus, a complete CAD/CAM system, now includes the Emerald S intraoral scanner, PlanCAD Premium design software, and PlanMill 60 S mill. The FIT Plus system is designed for dentists to fabricate an expanded range of high-end, lab-quality restorations in-house.
The lightweight, easy-to-use Emerald S intraoral scanner allows for quadrant or full-arch scanning. After the scan, clinicians use PlanCAD Premium to design various restorations – everything from crown and bridge, wax-ups, removable partials and complete dentures. When it’s time to manufacture restorations, the PlanMill 60 S mill allows for wet or dry processing, can mill discs or blocks, and has an automatic tool changer for up to 10 tools.
More Patients, More Production
CAD/CAM technology offers practices and their patients well-fitting restorations in a fraction of the time. Plus, CAD/CAM solutions are a technology that the whole team can rally and get energized about. As the dentist, you can delegate areas of the digital workflow, which means seeing more patients, providing more care and, ultimately, increasing production. Your team benefits too by the time savings and a chance to expand their skills.
A general dentist and owner of Downtown Tinley Dental in Tinley Park, Illinois, Tyler Markus, DMD, is passionate about creating an exceptional patient experience and pursuing advanced education in restorative dentistry.
CAD/CAM Technology For An Excellent Patient Experience
When my older Planmeca milling units needed repair last year, I had a fleeting thought that maybe I would stop milling same-day crowns. But, then patients were so disappointed that they weren’t getting the same service. I was fielding questions like, ‘What do you mean I need a temporary?’ or ‘I have to come back for my crown?’ So, continuing a convenient patient experience was the major driving force for me to upgrade my Planmeca scanner and mill.
In our office, one of my assistants takes the preop scan and does all the staining, glazing and designing, so my job is just to prep the tooth and take the final scans. I do a lot of quadrant dentistry now where, while the crown is milling, I’ll prep the teeth and then go see another patient. My assistant can then try the crown in, get it in the oven, stain and glaze it, put fillings in and do any adjustments. All I need to do is come in, do a quick check and cement the crown in. If you have the staff to delegate the process, it really helps boost efficiency and streamline the day.
The accuracy of digital scanning is truly unbeatable. I’m able to get great-fitting crowns, even with deeper margins. Patients are always telling me how crowns they had done elsewhere need so much adjustment, and now they never have to have anything adjusted. They like to watch me or my assistant design the tooth and often ask questions about it.
CAD/CAM Time Savings
For me, it’s all about convenience and efficiencies in my schedule and not having to do a ton of cement appointments with no production. The average single-visit crown appointment takes about two hours, but in that time, it’s a very productive appointment. Single-visit dentistry makes my life easier and I’m able to better serve my patients by doing everything they need in one appointment.
A Kentucky native, Darren Greenwell, DMD, FACD, FICD, MAGD, maintains a private practice in Radcliff, 30 miles west of his hometown. A former hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy, he enjoys placing implants and exploring all aspects of restorative dentistry.
My patients obviously appreciate having just one visit for their crown and bridge work. In my implant world, it’s great because the turnaround is a lot quicker than if I had to send things to the lab and wait two weeks to get them back. For example, if someone breaks a temporary or a bridge, I can just go back to the design, push a button and remake another one. In a couple of hours, it’s ready to go.
My team takes the initial scan for me, and then I come in to prep and do the final scan before it gets turned over to my assistant, who is dedicated to just my lab work. So, she’s doing many of the technical aspects of designing and milling. We’re only months into our PlanMill milling unit, but she’s picked it up very well. I was quite surprised at how easy it was for her to learn and navigate the software. I approve the design and we go ahead and manufacture the crown.
I place a lot of implants, so we’re using the mill for a lot of those cases. For example, to make fixed hybrid dentures. We’ve been doing some crowns and bridges with it as well, but the biggest reason I bought it was to increase the accuracy of my implant work and larger restorative cases. It’s been a learning curve, but my partner and I took a two-day in-person training at Planmeca headquarters, which was a great experience where we learned many of the system’s ins and outs.
The return on your investment is there. If you spend the money, you’re going to get your money back in the investment – and then some. Not only that, but your patients are going to be a lot happier because you’re able to provide them with an essential service much quicker. It makes my life a little easier and my patients go home happy. It’s a win-win all around.
This article was originally published in Patterson’s Advantage publication.