Collaboration Is Key to Advancing Innovation in Dentistry

Sam Wainwright


The relentless pace of innovation driving dentistry forward is nothing short of astounding. And while these improvements have countless benefits for both dental providers and patients, it is difficult to keep up with the ever-changing technologies available at our fingertips.

How can dentists best implement these advances and harness the capabilities they offer? How can they manage their business, treat patients, and learn new technologies that expand their abilities?

I would argue the answer is open, regular collaboration between dentist offices and technological innovators. What’s crucial is the sharing of information to discover the most effective ways to incorporate new technologies and improve patient experience.

Dentistry is undergoing a type of renaissance. Gone are the days of waiting for an immediate denture to arrive, or having patients go through the discomfort of having a gummy material in their mouth for three minutes to get a roughly accurate impression.

Patients today expect the same level of efficiency and accuracy that they do from their Amazon orders. It needs to be fast, high quality, and precise. Anything else simply doesn’t cut it.

There are many different solutions on the market, and dentists need to research which is the right one for their practice. As dental offices strive to meet the new expectations of the industry, they can benefit from working with smart partners who are innovating in both their own field and the dental field.

One of the most significant new technologies to hit the dental industry and help dentists achieve this standard is 3-D printing. A completely digital workflow that includes 3-D printing significantly enhances the patient experience and speeds up the production process of much needed items.

For example, surgeons and dentists can 3-D print surgical guides using biocompatible resin to enable shorter and safer patient outcomes. Such printing seamlessly digitizes, streamlines, and expedites workflows so dentists and technicians can provide patients with the outcomes they expect and deserve.

But it’s not enough for the out-of-the-box 3-D printer to meet a dentist’s standards. As any quality test will tell us, a thing is only as good as the stuff it’s made of. The same is true for dental parts.

A dental product is only as good as the software, hardware, and material used in the process. Working with a partner that regularly strives to improve its products for the dental industry while also building partnerships with other leading companies, enabling completely digital workflows, can be game-changing for a dental office.

When we talk about collaboration, it is essential that this line of communication reaches the right people in an organization who are the experts in, say, resin development for 3-D printers. When experts in dentistry collaborate with experts in materials sciences, together they can create a product that is the highest quality possible.

Collaborating on new 3-D printing dental resins empowers dental labs and practices to rapidly manufacture biocompatible surgical guides, splints, and dentures, as well as indirectly used dental parts like models for treatment planning, checking restorations, and thermoforming clear aligners and retainers. The goal is to improve workflow and the overall experience for their patients.

The evolution of technology lies in open, constant collaboration to match purpose with innovation. To create the next generation of manufacturing technology, experts in 3-D printing, resin development, and industries that benefit from these innovations must work together in creating new materials to exceed what is currently available.

These new dental-specific materials lead to providing, for instance, 3-D printed crowns and bridges with low tendency to age and discolor, low plaque accumulation, and high comfort.

No matter which provider you choose to go with, it’s essential to make sure its team is willing, ready, and capable of working with you to develop the right products to meet the ever-emerging needs of your patients.

That’s because, when patients visit the dentist, they want fast, easy, and high quality care. Collaboration across various channels, most importantly with emerging technology partners, can help your office achieve this expectation, every time.

Mr. Wainwright, dental product manager at Formlabs, has been in the dental industry for more than 10 years helping labs and dentists increase efficiency with new technology. He most notably has worked for Custom Automated Prosthetics (CAP), Henry Schein, and 3M as they expanded their presence in the industry.

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