Working digitally means: Much more efficiency, faster, more comfortable working methods. This makes the dental technician and the dentist happy and the patient’s life easier. Whilst the professionals benefit from a better treatment plan, the patients can relax because the treatment times are reduced and they don’t have to endure the classic impression taking procedure anymore. Read an interview with Josef Schweiger, dental technician, and his wife, Andrea Schweiger, who was available as a patient and among other things underwent a live surgery.
Mrs Schweiger, what advantages have you experienced with the use of digital techniques in your treatment so far?
Andrea Schweiger: The treatments have become much more comfortable. Starting with the impression. The impression is now taken digitally with a so called intraoral scanner. No more bulky impression tray with cold paste with unpleasant taste in the mouth. I always found this procedure extremely unpleasant.
Josef Schweiger: There have been surveys about what the most unpleasant experience at the dentist is. The classic impression was the clear winner at first place. Many patients feel totally helpless in this situation. Some people start to retch. None of this happens during the digital impression, which is a huge advantage for the patient. And, of course, also for the dentist because this procedure is far easier and faster. In addition, hard to reach areas can be re-scanned without additional effort. With the conventional impression taking method, the impression material would have to be mixed again and a new impression would need to be taken, which would cost money and time.
Why do many dentists still take the conventional impression?
Josef Schweiger: Many dentists are still unconvinced. They often don’t see why they should change to a digital impression when the conventional method ultimately leads to the desired result. But I am quite sure: The digital intraoral impression will prevail in the long run. Simply because new indications and treatment concepts are bound to come where this procedure is required. For example in the Munich implant concept or when at some point in the future the internal structure of the teeth can also be recorded. That will only be possible digitally.
Mrs Schweiger, how else has CAD and CAM made your experience as a patient easier?
Andrea Schweiger: I have heard my husband use the terms CAD and CAM many times. Personally, I am happy that there were significantly less appointments during my treatment. This, of course, saves the amount of time I have to invest as a patient. Previously, there were far more dentist appointments required than today.
Josef Schweiger: Digitalization allows new treatment concepts, and one of the advantages lies precisely in the fact that the dentists reach their target faster. The result is more efficiency for all involved: for the dentists, for the laboratories and above all for the patients. Even planning is faster. Through digital pre-planning, we are able to define the treatment target accurately - and to achieve this to almost 100%. Everything fits. CAD/CAM makes the results predictable.
Mrs Schweiger, can you think of any other advantages?
Andrea Schweiger: I like the fact that my data is readily retrievable at any time due to the digital recording. If a particular restoration has to be re-made - for example, because the old one broke - the restoration can be duplicated quickly and easily. At the touch of a button. It’s all in the databank.
Josef Schweiger: Recording data digitally enables us to do things that were just wishful thinking in the past. Soon the dentists will be able to create databases that will still be usable after decades. Then we will be able to give the patient the exact teeth they had when they were young.
Mr and Mrs Schweiger, to summarize: For you, what was the greatest advantage of using CAD and CAM from the patient’s point of view and the dental professional’s point of view?
Andrea Schweiger: As I already mentioned, for me as a patient the digital impression was the best part, which saved me a lot of discomfort.
Josef Schweiger: As a dental professional, I currently see the greatest advantage in the combination of digital techniques with implantology. When I combine the digital impression with implant positions, I am able to work faster, more efficiently and more accurately which is a huge advantage.
Are you wondering how to make your dental practice fit for the 21st century? Do you want to remain successful and efficient in the future? Then maybe our check list will be of help to you.
About the interviewees:
Since 1999, Josef Schweiger has been the Manager of the dental laboratory at the Polyclinic for Prosthetics at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich/Germany. From 1984 to 1988 he completed his apprenticeship as a dental technician in Traunstein (Bavaria). Josef Schweiger has published numerous specialized articles on digital dentistry, CAD/CAM techniques and implant prosthetics. Since 2017, he is also Head of the Department "Digital Technologies" for the magazine "Teamwork" in Teamwork Media Verlag (Deutscher Ärzteverlag). His work focuses on digital dentistry, full ceramics and CAD/CAM technology.
Andrea Schweiger works as a hairdresser. She was available as a patient as part of a training course where she also underwent live implant surgery.
Another must-read by Prof. Dr Kordass can be found in the latest Reflect issue entitled "Digital Dentistry: How virtual jaw measurements make prosthetics more efficient".