Over the last decade, the implementation and optimization of digital workflows have played a vital role in our business. Although we still have several traditional, “analog” components to our workflow, digital integration has delivered a remarkable level of accuracy, consistency, and efficiency across thousands of projects.
As a lab that strives for continuous innovation, we were an early adopter of Align Technology’s iTero® intraoral scanners to help improve our digital scanning and file management. Since that time, our workflows have increasingly grown, improving how we collaborate with our doctors and increasing our workflow efficiencies. We’ve always made an effort to interface with industry leaders, and our lab has a long-standing history of working with iTero scanners. We have been thrilled to watch digital scanning, file management, and collaboration evolve throughout our twelve-year history. For those laboratories that have yet to implement a robust digital workflow, here are some of the most salient benefits we’ve seen.
Accuracy and Consistency
Maintaining a high level of accuracy is crucial for every project in order to have a satisfied patient, fulfilled practitioner, and increased project efficiency. Project rework adds time, cost, and frustration. We find far less need for questions and corrections when using digital intraoral scans versus traditional mold based impressions.
When it comes to intraoral impressions, it isn’t entirely fair to say that digital is superior to physical across the board, as both methods yield results based on the dental clinician’s skill. The consistency and reliability of digital measurements, however, are superior to most physical counterparts.1
Beyond the accuracy of the scan itself, digital collaboration tools help us align with our dental practitioners in real-time, creating additional peace of mind and increased productivity. As an iTero enabled laboratory, we can receive iTero scans within minutes2 and, if necessary, send scan or case notes back to the dentist if the digital impression isn’t suitable for execution. This provides the dentist with the opportunity to address any case needs while the patient is still in the operatory.
The quality and reliability of digital scans, combined with collaborative features of the iTero intraoral oral scanners, has ultimately improved our business’s efficiency. Switching from analog impressions to digital files allowed us to operate with a specialized team, positively impacting our margins. Plus, the fact that we received case files in minutes2 , instead of having to wait on shipments of impressions, helped us reach and maintain a high project volume. TECH TIDBIT Digital Workflows Provide Benefits to Accuracy, Consistency, and Efficiency By Alexander Christian Wünsche, CDT Over the last decade, the implementation and optimization of digital workflows have played a vital role in our business. Although we still have several traditional, “analog” components to our workflow, digital integration has delivered a remarkable level of accuracy, consistency, and efficiency across thousands of projects. Digital collaboration tools help us align with our dental practitioners in real-time. 34 Journal of Dental Technology August/September 2021 More recently, the addition of an advanced workflow platform, such as MyiTero for Labs, is driving additional efficiencies. Using this, we can access our dentist partners’ scans in the cloud. We can access the scans at any time, and when necessary, utilize Align’s scan enhancement service when increased definition of margins is required. Importantly, our dentist partners also interface with the system, ensuring all stakeholders have access to the most up-to-date assets required.
We’ve experienced tremendous benefits in keeping pace with the growing sophistication of digital technology. We’ve found that by taking the position of an “early adopter,” we’ve been able to experience benefits that continue to expand over time. If your laboratory is still on the fence about fully investing in digital project management, we encourage you to consider the benefits to accuracy, consistency, and efficiency we have experienced before making a final decision.
- Accuracy defined as a combination of trueness and precision tested on different substrates, under different lighting conditions, for crown preparation and full-arch scanning. Based on the results of 11 peer-reviewed papers 2018-2020. Data on file at Align Technology, as of July 22, 2020.
- Based on 10,000 scans, mean transfer time, defined as the time between the practice sending the iTero scan and the dental laboratory receiving it, is 4.6min. May vary based on internet connection. Data on file at Align Technology, as of February 12, 2020.
This article has been reprinted with permission from the August/September 2021 Issue of the Journal of Dental Technology (JDT).
About the Author
Alexander Wünsche, CDT, is the co-owner of Zahntechnique together with his partner and wife, Danielle Wünsche. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.