When dentists are in the final years of dental school, they have many opportunities to sharpen the skills and knowledge they have learned in lectures and simulations by performing procedures on real patients.
Once they are established in their careers, however, they have fewer opportunities to fine-tune their skills or gain expertise with new equipment by test-driving them on actual people. That fact will change once dentists attend the Core III: Mastering Dynamic Adhesion in Complex Reconstructive Cases course at the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Studies (LVI), an international organization formed in 1994. The Institute’s goal is to elevate the dental profession by arming doctors with contemporary technology and techniques so they can provide patients with comprehensive diagnoses that provide more in-depth information about their overall health. “Attending a course at LVI is a way to witness great dentistry,” said Dr. Ed Suh, one of the instructors who teaches the Core III class, part of a series of seven foundational courses.
Doctors Can “Test Drive” CAD/CAM on Live Patients
Over three days, doctors in the Core III class learn about different types of adhesives, restorative materials, and technologies and when and how to use each. CAD/CAM-fabricated restorations are one of the technologies featured, and for doctors who are interested but unsure whether it is right for their practices, this is the only class in the country that lets them supply a patient and “test drive” the Planmeca FIT CAD/CAM system in class, creating and placing a restoration. “To see and complete a successful restoration using CAD/CAM on an actual patient is a powerful experience,” Dr. Suh adds.
Impact of CAD/CAM on Practice Operations
He knows firsthand how impactful a CAD/CAM system is on the daily operations of a practice: he has been a power user of the technology since 2007, shortly after the system was launched by Planmeca (formerly E4D Technologies). Today, he stresses that all digital technology, particularly CAD/CAM, can be customized to the way a doctor wants to run his or her practice.
“I don’t use same-day dentistry for every single restoration; it’s flexible and it allows me to cater to patient needs,” confirms Dr. Suh. “For example, if I have an anxious patient who does not like returning to the dentist for multiple visits, I will use it. Or if I have an open hour I need to fill in my schedule, I can give the patient the option to return for placement that same day. CAD/CAM gives me the power to decide what I want to do.”
He emphasizes that even though he mills restorations in-house, he still relies on and has a strong relationship with his lab. In fact, Williams Dental Laboratory runs three PlanMill machines itself, and is a supporter of practices designing their own restorations.
In addition to offering amazing flexibility, the CAD/CAM system has improved Dr. Suh’s bottom line. “By purchasing CAD/CAM, I’m buying an asset that becomes more profitable the busier I get,” he explains. “And, of course, when I make my own units, I am not paying a lab bill.”
Dr. Suh discourages doctors from looking at CAD/CAM (or any technology) as an “all or nothing” option.
“Digital dentistry is now part of our industry,” he maintains, “so the question becomes: what piece of the puzzle are you comfortable with for your own practice? Some doctors will use only digital impressions. Others will choose to mill all of their restorations in their office. There is a wide spectrum of users and of comfort levels with technology, and the technology is adaptable to that.”