CAD/CAM: Staying on top of things
Do certain new challenges seem insurmountable to you? For example, are you still trying to decide on how to enter the digital age? If so, read the following item on how one of your peers is tackling this issue! The following report about a state-of-the-art dental laboratory in Switzerland is bound to interest you.
A digital devotee
Thomas Furter is a digital devotee. This dental laboratory technician and laboratory owner has been passionate about everything to do with electronics and computers ever since he can remember. His dental laboratory in Bern, Switzerland, is a true reflection of this passion. He uses only the most advanced equipment – computer technology is omnipresent.
Seven highly motivated dental technicians make up the team of Art Dent AG. Their lab is centrally located a mere few hundred meters from the main train station. There, Thomas Furter and his associates are proudly setting new dental standards. Thomas Furter has been a member of this laboratory team since 2004. He took over the business from his boss and mentor Beat Heckendorn in 2013.
He never stuck his head in the sand
Two things are of utmost importance for Thomas Furter. Firstly, he wants to provide top quality products and services that will satisfy his customers and their patients. Secondly, he believes in staying up to date and innovative. The 30-something laboratory owner says that he has never stuck his head in the sand in the face of new challenges. Trying out new things and offering new services has always been an exciting endeavour for him.
3D printed working models
Furter mentions Michigan splints as a example. He designs them with a CAD system and produces them with the help of a 3D printer – just as he does various working models. In addition, the popularity of CAD/CAM procedures is on the rise. His motto is to be always on the ball, but not necessarily always the first.
Each step needs to be carefully considered
Furter does not want his openness towards new procedures and technologies to be misunderstood: “I do not take any decisions lightly, without giving them much thought”. He emphasizes that he thoroughly assesses every new step and new investment: He advises his colleagues that it is important to establish the viability of every new venture, because you don’t want to spend your money foolishly.
Frequently underestimated: the determination of the tooth colour
One topic that is very dear to Thomas Furter’s heart is the determination of the correct tooth colour. In his case, this is done with digital means – to ensure an immediate shade match. He says that this is a major topic that is still not being taken seriously by many dental technicians. In this context, he mentions the experience he has gathered with the ceramic furnace Programat P710. This machine features a program that is capable of digitally determining the tooth shade on the basis of photographs: “It’s easy and very reliable”. Thomas Furter also works with digital shade measuring equipment in order to offer state-of-the-art services.
Personal contacts are important
Even though Thomas Furter is an advocate of digital working methods and communication means, he also believes in cultivating personal contacts with his customers. This is indispensable in his opinion. He has a specially designed room in his laboratory for seeing his patients. He asks them to sit in an old red barber’s chair, where he determines their tooth shade. He explains that this type of approach is more efficient, because he immediately sees whether or not a certain choice is correct. If necessary, adjustments can be made immediately. The restorations do not have to be sent back and forth between the dentist and the lab. This makes it easier on the patient, since fewer appointments are necessary. Furthermore, the patients are usually thrilled to visit the laboratory, because they normally do not have any contact with the dental technicians who make their dentures.
By the way, the barber’s chair originally belonged to the father of Furter’s predecessor Beat Heckendorn who was a barber. Thomas Furter emphasizes that this was also a respected and down-to-earth profession in the past.
Thomas Furter also believes in organizing the work of his colleagues with the utmost efficiency. The team members are all responsible for their own work from the first to the final step – so that everything gets done smoothly. Dividing the responsibility of different working steps, for example, someone makes the model cast and someone else the framework, does not happen at Art Dent AG. All the work stations are individually adjustable in terms of height and position, so that every team member can work under optimum conditions. This ensures heightened flexibility.
Collaboration with universities
Thomas Furter is also passionate about developing dental lab technology. Therefore, he is keen to share his extensive knowledge. He gives courses to students in which he shows them how to determine tooth colours with digital and manual means. In addition, he works with the University of Bern to study and test new dental products and procedures.
The future is digital
Thomas Furter is convinced that dental lab technology is undergoing a significant change – from a traditional craft to a state-of-the-art service, which is significantly influenced by digital technology: “Digital technology is the future. There’s no way around it.”
Ivoclar Digital is the name of a strong and focused new brand developed by Ivoclar Vivadent. It provides dentists and dental technicians with state-of-the-art professional expertise throughout the entire digital process chain.
Programat is a registered trademark of Ivoclar Vivadent AG. The availability of certain products may vary from country to country.