Perpetual Change

Paul Feuerstein, DMD
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There were eye-opening products that are being used by dental labs now that are actually driving the entire dental industry to new processes and products.

The recent Chicago Midwinter Meeting had, as usual, new product introductions from existing companies and new exhibitors as well as existing products trying to catch the attention of attendees. There were a few surprises; one was a bit disappointing.

For years, Oral Health America (OHA) hosted its annual fundraiser at the opening night of the meeting. This charity, which started in 1955, helped the underserved population of children by donating services and products. Its Smiles Across America program coordinated schools, governments, care providers, and corporate and community sponsors to fight against tooth decay. In addition, there was an initiative to make people aware of the dangers of chewing tobacco. The industry looked forward to this black tie event, with a who’s who in the dental industry attending, including not only the top lecturers but the heads of every major dental company. It was sometimes referred to as “The Dental Prom.” Corporations and individuals donated money, services, products, and more, as well as put items up for auction at the event, which generated hundreds of thousands of dollars for this charity. Abruptly, OHA closed its doors in January and, as a result, cancelled this event. The first disappointment is that this wonderful service has been discontinued. And the loss of this event took away an amazing social night where all of corporate dentistry could sit together as one.

Back on the floor, as expected, the digital impression/CAD/CAM arena had several advances and new product introductions. In the impression scanning/CAD/CAM world, there were several new players, including Medit i500 (Medit) (medit.com), Heron IOS (3DISC) (3disc.com), and QuickScan IOS (Denterprise International) (denterpriseintl.com). These and a few others have broken the price barrier, coming in at under $20,000. GC America (gcamerica.com) also continues to improve the Aadva IOS scanner, which is priced in the same range. A quick response came from 3Shape (3shape.com), which launched the TRIOS 3 Basic at $23,500. It is a wired unit, scans in color, can create an STL file for export, and uses 3Shape’s AI scanning, but it is lacking a few of the advanced software products that are found in the original system. They can be added on at a later date.

Launching its new CS 3100 mill and design software, Care­stream (carestreamdental.com) created a new full system for one-visit dentistry. This new mill can create very detailed restorations using the incorporated Exocad Chairside CAD software and is quite fast. Carestream also officially launched its new CS 9600 cone beam unit. It is quite different from other systems, as it uses a new video camera patient-positioning system, which not only makes this step quite easy but also allows the unit to perform “face scans.” There are also several other details, including software enhancements that were added as a result of customers’ requests that make the scan process easier.

Air Techniques (airtechniques.com) introduced a new cone beam, the ProVecta 3D Prime, to add to its radiography portfolio, which already includes the unique panoramic ProVecta S-Pan (which selects from 20,000 image fragments to create one image) as well as the popular phosphor plate system, ScanX. One of the ProVecta 3D Prime’s novel features is a unique, 130-mm × 85-mm, jaw-shaped, anatomically adapted volume that encompasses all treatment areas without imaging non-relevant anatomy.

Glidewell Laboratories (glidewell.io) showed its fully developed IO system, glidewell.io, which can deliver one-visit dentistry. Using the iTero Element scanner (Align Technology) (itero.com) with Glidewell Laboratories’ proprietary design software (fastdesign.io Software) and its new milling unit (fastmill.io In-Office Unit) is quite fast and precise. The mill is modeled after Glidewell’s larger units that are used in the commercial laboratory process.

Speaking of iTero, there was a glimpse of some new enhancements that were about to be launched at IDS 2019 in Cologne, Germany, in March. The new iTero Element 5D (Align Technology) is expected to add features like caries detection with transillumination. Its near-infrared imaging (NIRI) technology lets you scan the internal structure of your patients’ teeth in real time. There are also enhancements of its Time Lapse software (that can show differences between scans over time) as well as the ability to use the unit as an intraoral camera. This column precedes the official launch, so watch for details.

The biggest buzz, though, was from Dentsply Sirona (dentsplysirona.com), which launched the Primescan, replacing the Omnicam. This is not an upgrade; it is a totally new design of the camera and the mobile cart. Some of the many features include new autoclavable tips (with internal heating); faster and higher resolution scans; the use of Artificial Intelligence, which, among other things, automatically removes superfluous information like cheeks and tongues; and the replacement of the trackball and keyboard with an enhanced swiveling monitor. The website has a lot more information, and many of the users have been posting videos on social media platforms like Facebook, showing clinical examples of the power of this new system.

Planmeca (planmeca.com) has made some software improvements to its new Emerald scanner and its Romexis software, which is a total solution for all of its products.

This now gives us 4 complete systems for one-visit dentistry, and 3 of them have direct integration with their own cone beams. Still, some practitioners want to have totally open systems and would prefer to choose their own options. This can be a challenge, as it is not simple to buy the components and get them to “talk” to each other. Benco Dental launched a service (onevisitbenco.com) that presents a menu allowing a practitioner to choose from a list of scanners, software, mills, and blocks and will put it all together. This gives the office one source for support and service.

There was an array of 3-D printers at McCormick Place, but many more were at a parallel meeting in Chicago, the LMT Lab Day show. There were eye-opening products that are being used by dental labs now that are actually driving the entire dental industry to new processes and products. Between this lab show and the IDS show, we will have a lot to cover in upcoming columns here.

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