When is the Digitalisation of Dentistry really going to pick up pace?
Bill Gates of Microsoft fame suggested that ‘we always overestimate the change that will occur in the next 2 years but underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten’ …….so don’t be lulled into a false sense of security!
Only a few years ago our lab-work at Stephen Green Dental Studio was all analogue, now other than denture work it is all digital, manufactured on CAD-CAM systems by computer savvy RDT’s with a big swing towards monolithic restorations. We are now also seeing an increase in digital impressions which is perhaps the next stage of development towards digital integration of processes.
Whilst the drivers may be cost and time savings, digital will become the standard soon, we only have to consider how at one time IBM were the computer giants, now its Microsoft, change through developing and improving technology, photography with role film to digital photo’s, development of materials and technique and also our habits with reading, how many of us have e.books rather than the ‘paperback’? Habits change and so they will in dentistry!
Costs and competition will drive labs to invest in this technology but what about dentists, perhaps as some say they are waiting for the next big thing but what will this be? Better resolution of scanners, more accurate detection of the hard and soft tissue? Quite possibly it will be the integration of the rest of the practice with CBCT scanners and database software that is required to be secure and encrypted such as DDX (see previous Stephen Green blog). This development may eventually persuade the rest to follow what is a slowly developing stream of activity. There will also have to be a skills shift when digital impression technology develops, away from analogue and towards IT based digital images which will require evaluation by the dentist in real time whilst the patient is in the chair and the prep is magnified on the screen, I’ll bet that will improve preparations!
We are also seeing rapid improvement in the materials field with glass ceramics and zirconia replacing metal based restorations. With the availability to faster manufacture these materials we will see an even further swing towards the monolithic restoration, why you might ask would the general person in the street pay more for little perceived gain as with monolithic over layered restorations?
This however is not a de-skilling of a workforce, we still need all our skills and more to work on these systems. We now need to be not only IT literate but able to use our skills on screen to design and create that once made by bunson and brush!
Do We Need I.T.? YES! Digital dentistry is here now and amongst us as we speak!
CAD-CAM considerations of Stephen Green RDT MBA