Nelson Rego: As mentioned before, high-quality ceramic materials - such as leucite glass-ceramics (IPS Empress) and lithium disilicate (IPS e.max) are among our preferred materials. Zirconia (ZrO2) and lithium disilicate (LS2) are among the preferred materials for the production of high-quality restorations in the dental lab of Nelson Rego. The experienced US-American dental professional particularly likes the durability and high flexural strength of these materials. Find out more in this interview, which took place on occasion of the 4th International Expert Symposium by Ivoclar Vivadent in Rome/Italy.

Mr Rego, can you please tell us about yourself and your dental lab?

Nelson Rego: Juan Rego and I have owned a dental lab in Santa Fe Springs, California, since 1980. We are a team of 24 people and our focus is on non-prep veneers, full-mouth rehabilitations and implant treatments. Our goal is to participate as partners with our customers in the exhilarating process of restoring beautiful smiles. We spend a lot of time learning the clinical end of dentistry so that we can speak the same language as the dentist.

What is your dental lab specialized in and what are you famous for?

Nelson Rego: We offer all types of fixed restorative services. Our speciality is anterior esthetics. We are especially passionate about figuring out ways to restore the individual case with a minimal amount of reduction.
Above all, our lab is famous for non-prep veneers and for the fact that we use materials which offer outstanding quality and exceptional mechanical properties. Specifically, I am talking here about high-performance ceramics such as zirconia.

Which technologies and which materials do you use most often in your lab – and why?

Nelson Rego: As mentioned before, high-quality ceramic materials – such as leucite glass-ceramics (IPS Empress) and lithium disilicate (IPS e.max) are among our preferred materials. I should also highlight zirconium oxide (IPS e.max ZirCAD) in this context. The latter two make up a substantial bulk of our business and for good reason: they offer a great many good qualities. They are extremely esthetic and extremely durable. When I think of zirconia, high flexural strength comes to mind. This facilitates the production of many restorations for us.

When it comes to technologies, we are big on digital processes and manufacturing methods. Digital tech has allowed us to optimize the day-to-day part of our business and to streamline our processes considerably. This allows me to concentrate much more on the esthetic part of my work.

While we are on the topic, we have been using Ivoclar Vivadent materials for over 30 years because these products work and because the customer service is outstanding and reliable. We feel completely supported in our day-to-day work in the lab.

How would you describe your relationship towards your dentist customers?

Nelson Rego: I work hard to anticipate the needs of our customers before they do. Our goal is to be a resource that our customers feel comfortable using without hesitations or reservations.

How do you think dentistry will change in the next 5 to 10 years? Which steps will be done digitally and which ones will remain analogue?

Nelson Rego: I think the biggest change in dentistry will be impression taking. The sales of scanners will grow rapidly – and much more than the sales of milling machines.

I do not believe that everything will be done digitally in the future and that digital processes will be employed in every procedure. I guess that about 90 per cent of all restorations – such as bridges, crowns or dentures – will be produced digitally. This will free up dental technicians to add the final artistic part, drawing on their manual skills and expertise. Technicians will always remain required to perform this task.

The current trend is clearly pointing towards minimally invasive dentistry. I think that minimally invasive restorations are hard to produce digitally. However, these materials are likely to see innovations at some point. Just to mention an example, zirconia is already now suitable for many more options than it used to be just a few years ago. It is therefore no surprise that the demand for zirconia oxide has increased recently, and not only in the US.

How could or should dental technicians prepare themselves for being fit for the (digital) future?

Nelson Rego: Dental technicians should learn how to design restorations digitally. That is a great way to get ready for the future. Larger restorations are much more difficult to design digitally than smaller ones and it will still require experienced technicians to properly evaluate what they are seeing on the screen.

The future of dental-lab technology has long since begun. The digital revolution (CAD/CAM) has also reached the dental world. Are you interested to know where dental-lab technology is heading? We have summarized the six most important trends for you based on interviews with experienced technicians, lab visits and talks with experts.

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Nelson RegoAbout the interview: Nelson Rego, CDT AAACD

Nelson Rego is the owner and manager of “Smile Designs by Rego”, an advanced dental laboratory specializing in ceramics in Santa Fe Springs, California. Nelson and Juan Rego, CDT, established the laboratory in 1980. Mr. Rego is a certified dental technician, who studied with some of the best dentists and ceramists in dentistry today. He is an Accredited Member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) and was the first technician to serve as the Chair of Accreditation.

He has written over 70 articles pertaining to dental materials and techniques, which have been published in many of the leading dental journals. He is also an evaluator and opinion leader for several dental product manufacturers and he is the co-creator of “Microthin Veneers”, a non-invasive approach to cosmetic dentistry.