Darren Littlefair – Chief Technical Officer, Stoneglass
What is Digital Dentistry?
I was lucky to start my apprenticeship in the late 80’s at the time when 3D computer aided design was taking hold and revolutionising the mechanical engineering and design industry. Now it is exciting to be actively involved in driving that same phenomenon in the Dental industry.
At that time, engineering professionals did not relinquish their fundemental skills and knowledge to “Digital”; instead they embraced CAD CAM technology as a way to better themselves. In fact it was Computer Aided Engineering in general that led to the emergence of the Project Engineer – the multi-skilled engineer. A design engineer could design, draft, 3D model, cost, and check for manufaturability, all in the one process, and colloborate with other engineers in a more clear, precise and concise way.
How different the introduction of CAD CAM in the Dental Industry has been, particularly in the Surgery and the Laboratory. I have seen many professionals in the dental industry abandon their reliance on traditional techniques, and their extraordinary attention to detail, to CAD CAM technology. Often with only anecdotal evidence that digital is better than analog, and CAD CAM is more accurate than traditional techniques. I believe that this is largely down to speed at which CAD CAM has taken hold of dentistry and the relentless push from vendors trying to get a stranglehold on this new market. Unfortunately much of the sales and marketing misrepresents the true value of digital dentistry for the sake of selling software and hardware and not to better the profession.
The decision to use CAD CAM technology in dentistry should be looked at objectively and with much thought into what digital dentistry is, or more importantly, with the question “what will CAD CAM do to help me?” asked and answered. All of the benefits of digital dentistry can be quantified, don’t just rely on a sales rep saying it will improve the accuracy of what you do.
At Stoneglass our philosphy is different. Embrace what knowledge we have, use traditional where it works well, and use CAD CAM technology to improve and complement what we do to become better at it. We want to help professionals to become multi-skilled, to help improve communication between everybody involved in the patient’s treatment plan, as well as provide the highest quality prosthetics.
To that end, our R&D activities have been geared towards producing software, workflows, products and manufacturing processes that provide:
– improved communication
– better colloboration
– enhancement of traditional skills
That is what digital dentistry means to Stoneglass and what defines PDC.