Having an In-House Lab Benefits Patients

April 26, 2024 Stephen Malone DMD

Stephen Malone, DMD 

Our Knoxville, Tennessee, dental practice has grown to where we now have four dentists, as well as four hygienists, six dental assistants, two patient coordinators, a practice manager with two front-office patient care specialists, and one more primary partner in our dental practice—Bob Cutshaw. Bob is a master lab technician with over 40 years of experience and owner of Cutshaw Labs. He has been a partner in care with me for nearly 25 years and collaborates with our doctors on all dental restorations requiring lab work. 

Recently, I was thinking again about how grateful I am for my association with Bob and for the many benefits of having his lab located downstairs within our practice facility. Perhaps, having a lab in-house is something other dentists might aspire to eventually have in their own private practice. 

Bob is involved in care planning just as much as I and the other dentists. We can sit side by side to collaborate on treatment using a combination of digital 3D modeling and analog articulated models and wax-ups. 

For patients with complex needs, he routinely comes into the operatory or the consultation room to meet with patients. As he explains his involvement in their care and how the highest quality materials and latest techniques will be used, they become fascinated in the laboratory methods and technologies. Some request a tour of the lab and want to watch some of the process. 

We use digital designs for all prosthetics. Bob’s professional-grade 3D printers work all day long for predictable, efficient fabrication of custom restorations. Then he hand-paints and glazes the crowns and prosthetics for optimal natural aesthetics. Because he is involved in planning our most complex cases that involve implant supported hybrid denture, he is deeply invested in the details that allow the finished product to be delivered with ease. 

Having his lab in-house allows us to rapidly fix issues that arise, for example, alterations to a restoration when it doesn’t quite fit right or has a slightly incorrect shade. Instead of waiting for days or weeks to deliver back and forth a restoration to an outside lab, we make the changes here on the same day. 

For Patients undergoing clear aligner treatment, we manufacture our clear aligners in-house. If a patient loses or damages a tray, it is immediately replaced so the patient doesn’t lose precious time in treatment. The same goes for our occlusal splints, night guards, sports mouth guards, and Essix retainers. 

One of the branding traits of our practice that has earned us our high reputation is the in-house laboratory. Without a doubt, having this lab just downstairs is a major way in which we enhance the quality of care we provide to our patients. 

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Stephen Malone DMD

Dr. Stephen Malone received his Doctorate of Dental Medicine Degree from the University of Louisville in 1994 and has practiced dentistry in Knoxville for nearly 20 years. He participates in multiple dental study clubs and professional organizations, where he has taken a leadership role. Among the continuing education programs he has attended, The Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education is noteworthy. He was the youngest dentist to earn the status of Pankey Scholar at this world-renowned post-doctoral educational institution, and he is now a member of its Visiting Faculty.

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Dental Photography Part 2: Deciding Between Saving Images as JPEG or RAW 

March 20, 2024 Charlie Ward, DDS

Charlie Ward, DDS

In this article, I’ll share how I save my Dental DSLR photos and choose between the file formats of RAW versus JPEG. There are specific reasons why we might need one format or the other, or perhaps both. I’ll also share how I store and protect my ever-growing collection of images. 

The Difference Between RAW and JPEG Format 

We have a choice when we’re shooting with our DSLR about how we want to save our files. On the menu of our camera, we see that we can choose between RAW and JPEG, and the quality of JPEG. When RAW is selected, all data that hits the camera sensor is saved. A JPEG is a processed image resulting in a compressed (smaller) file size.  

The data stored in RAW images can be 3 to 4 times more than in JPEG images, depending on the quality of JPEG you select on the camera menu. The processor in your DSLR camera will remove data from a JPEG image that it perceives to be imperceptible to the human eye. The greatly smaller size of JPEGS makes them universally preferred, not only for storage but for quick upload, download, and opening for viewing online. I routinely shoot high-quality JPEGs for diagnostics and routine lab communication.  

(If you are wondering what JPEG stands for, it’s for Joint Photographic Experts Group. Once JPEG images are in your computer, they can be saved as different file formats ending in different extensions such as .eps, .pdf, .jpg, .jpeg, .bmp, .tif, and .tiff.) 

If I take an image in both RAW and JPEG format, at first glance, the JPEG and RAW images may look the same, but on closer inspection, I may see that the stain on a tooth’s enamel or surrounding skin tones appear lighter in the RAW image. The camera itself has processed the image and determined that some of that data is unnecessary.  

When to Shoot RAW Images 

For most of what dentists do with our DSLR cameras, JPEGS are fine. There are three situations when we should choose to shoot RAW images. 

  1. When we want to edit images like a professional photographer. 
  1. When we shoot images for accreditation for the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. The Academy requires images in raw format so they can tell that the images have not been edited.  
  1. When we are using a digital shade matching system like eLab or Matisse that requires RAW input. 

Why Shoot Both Versions When You Want RAW 

If you are storing CBCT and RAW images on your server, a lot of data can accumulate quickly. I shoot JPEG versions of the images I shoot in RAW format so I can delete the RAW files from my server when they are no longer needed and still have a case record with the JPEG files. 

Storage Tip: In my practice, we download the patient’s or the day’s images from the SD card on to our server in a patient folder. We have one main folder and within it a subfolder for each letter of the alphabet. Inside each alphabet letter’s folder is another subfolder labeled with the patient’s name for each patient whose last name begins with that alphabet letter. Inside each patient’s folder are appropriate subfolders, labeled for example, “Name-Prep-Date.” 

 

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Dental Photography Part 1: What Photography Equipment Should I Buy? 

March 15, 2024 Charlie Ward, DDS

Charlie Ward, DDS  

Whether you want to use a digital SLR camera for documentation, patient education, lab communication, making presentations at dental events, dental publications, or accreditation in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, you have choices to consider in multiple price ranges.  

Dentists can spend $1,800 and get a good system for documenting cases, patient education and lab communication. Dentists can easily spend $3,800 or more on a setup to equip themselves to take higher quality images. 

Camera Body: Most dentists shoot with a Nikon or Cannon DSLR camera. These are comparable brands. My experience is with Canon but my lab technician uses Nikon and gets wonderful results. I am shooting with the Canon EOS 90D. The comparable Nikon is the D7500. More entry-level models are the Nikon 3500 and the Canon Rebel T8i. 

Lenses: We can get a third-party Sigma 105mm or a Tokina 105mm lens that gives us decent quality, or we can purchase the Canon 100mm or Nikon 105mm version at twice the price. When I upgraded to the finer Canon lens, I noticed a huge difference in image quality. I recommend an upgraded lens for the highest-quality images you need for accreditation. 

Flashes: The ring flash is a great entry-level option and significantly less expensive but there are limitations to what you can do to control your light. I’ve been using a dual point flash for some time. I can pull a flash off and shoot from a different angle. By changing where the light is coming from, I can accentuate the angle lines for more depth and visual clarity.  

Sometimes, I’ll take one of my flashes off, hold it on the opposite side of what I am shooting, and shoot the flash back into the lens of the camera. When I do this, I get an ethereal-appearing image or an image with a white background. I appreciate the versatility of using the dual point system.  

For my best-looking images and portraits, I’ll use softboxes. This gives smoother, more diffuse light and a beautiful appearance. These are necessary for everyday dentistry but make a huge difference in showcasing aesthetic cases.  

 

Consider the Long Term: When dentists invest in cameras and lenses, they typically use them for a long time. If you are on the fence about how much you want to invest, my own experience might be helpful. I honestly wish that I had upgraded sooner than I did with the Canon EOS 90D and the Canon 100mm lens. After taking photos for 12 years, the upgraded equipment has only increased the joy I have for photography and pushed me to take more pictures! 

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Why Use an Essix Retainer Versus a Flipper During Dental Implant Therapy

February 16, 2024 Lee Ann Brady DMD

Why Use an Essix Retainer Versus a Flipper During Dental Implant Therapy 

Lee Ann Brady, DMD 

When it comes to choosing a provisional during implant therapy in the anterior aesthetic zone, we have two removable options. One is called a “flipper.” It’s an interim partial denture composed of an acrylic base and a denture tooth. The other is an Essix retainer.  

There is no question that both options are taxing for the patient for the three to five months that the patient is edentulous and must deal with having this removable device to replace the tooth. So, I always tell my patients that they are going to have to manage the provisional for that time, but it’s worth it because, in the end, they have replaced the tooth with an implant with all the benefits of an implant versus an alternative prosthetic solution. 

In my practice, I use Essix retainers in nearly 100% of the cases. Why? Because an Essix retainer is tooth-borne. The pressure is placed on the teeth and not on the surgical site. In the case of a flipper, the prosthesis is primarily tissue-borne with a little pressure placed on the adjacent teeth. We really don’t want any pressure on the surgical site while it is healing. Pressure can induce biological problems in bone grafts and connective tissue, which affect the long-term outcome. From an aesthetic perspective, the most challenging thing about anterior implant aesthetics is replicating the size, shape, and position of the tissues of the alveolar ridge and papilla. I want to do everything I can to eliminate pressure on the healing tissue. 

In my practice, we do Essix retainers that don’t have a full solid tooth in them. Instead, we simply paint flowable on the facial so that there’s zero pressure anywhere around that surgical site after extraction, after grafting, and after implant placement.  

In addition to explaining the improved outcomes associated with using an Essix retainer, I assure my patients that the retainer will be more comfortable to wear than a denture and be easily removed by them for eating, for drinking liquids other than water that are likely to stain the retainer, for teeth cleaning, and for cleaning the prosthesis. When out in public, such as in a restaurant, patients may carefully eat while wearing the Essix retainer.  

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Lee Ann Brady DMD

Dr. Lee Ann Brady is passionate about dentistry, her family and making a difference. She is a general dentist and owns a practice in Glendale, AZ limited to restorative dentistry. Lee’s passion for dental education began as a CE junkie herself, pursuing lots of advanced continuing education focused on Restorative and Occlusion. In 2005, she became a full time resident faculty member for The Pankey Institute, and was promoted to Clinical Director in 2006. Lee joined Spear Education as Executive VP of Education in the fall of 2008 to teach and coordinate the educational curriculum. In June of 2011, she left Spear Education, founded leeannbrady.com and joined the dental practice she now owns as an associate. Today, she teaches at dental meetings and study clubs both nationally and internationally, continues to write for dental journals and her website, sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Cosmetic Dentistry, Inside Dentistry and DentalTown Magazines and is the Director of Education for The Pankey Institute.

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Dental Sleep Medicine in Restorative Practice Part 6: The Question of Software

February 9, 2024 Todd Sander, DMD

Dental Sleep Medicine in Restorative Practice Part 6: The Question of Software 

By Todd Sander DMD 

Numerous companies offer software solutions for dental sleep medicine that integrate with billing services. These companies can take over the paperwork and billing for medical insurance. Some of them have letter templates built into them.  

I look at software all the time, and when I do, I evaluate the efficiency we would gain versus the number of appliances I would need to deliver to make using the software worthwhile. Their billing service fees are high. Currently, I average 10-15 dental sleep medicine patients per quarter and not all of these are candidates for oral appliance therapy. Remember, I have a busy restorative practice. Colleagues who practice full-time dental sleep medicine may see this number in a week! 

I’ve been fortunate to have team members who don’t mind researching how to file medical insurance claims for appliances. Most of my colleagues use a software platform designed for dental sleep medicine. So far, I have chosen not to use one. Instead, I have assigned the duties to team members and they have taken dental sleep medicine, Eaglesoft, and medical billing courses. Currently, we have customized template forms and letters in our Eaglesoft system but it is not set up for filing medical claims.  I must admit, it is getting harder to do this. and I may be forced to decide about dedicated software soon. However, the decision will be made considering financial feasibility as a primary concern. 

It did take time to develop our template forms and letters in Eaglesoft but now we are highly efficient. I dictate the notes for our records, the SOAP note for medical insurance, and the information we want to share in letters with physicians. In addition to the cost savings, I like that I am recording the data I want in my documentation in a structure I want for how I practice—not just for the SOAP note and representing my findings to referring physicians. 

One of my mentors has me considering the possibility that I might want to separate my dental sleep medicine patients’ charting from my dental patients’ charting. Using software designed for the practice of dental sleep medicine would give me a clean way to segregate the patients on my computers. So far, I’ve decided that the expense of the software will not give me a return on my investment. 

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Todd Sander, DMD

Dr. Todd Sander is a graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the School of Dentistry at Temple University, and a one-year Advanced Education in General Dentistry residency with the US Army at Fort Jackson, SC. He completed three years of active duty with the US Army Dental Corps and served in Iraq for 11 months. Dr. Sander completed more than 500 hours of postgraduate training at the Pankey Institute for Advance Dental Education and is one of only three dentists in the Charleston area to hold such a distinction. Dr. Sander is also affiliated with the American Dental Association, South Carolina Dental Association, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, Academy of General Dentistry, and American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. Areas of special interest include: TMJ disorders; advanced dental technology; cosmetic dentistry; full mouth reconstruction; sleep apnea /snoring therapy; Invisalign orthodontics.

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The Transition to Digital Dentistry Part 2

January 17, 2024 John Cranham, DDS

When my daughter Kaitlyn (currently in through E2 at Pankey) finished dental school in 2020, I strongly recommended that she learn analog first, then once mastered, make the transition to digital. This lasted about four months. I learned rapidly that this generation sees things in the digital realm far better than we do. She reminded me that “she grew up with a screen in her hand.” 

We began to focus on her learning the concepts of occlusion, esthetics, biology, tooth-by-tooth structural integrity, and visualizing and planning in the virtual (digital world). We quickly learned that, although she could easily visualize things on the computer, the patient is ultimately analog. We began to utilize an analog articulator for her to learn the hand skills of what we would do on the patient. 

A great example of this is equilibration. A “trial equilibration” on a virtual articulator is a 5-minute process that lets us determine if equilibration is an appropriate treatment option. The problem is that, unlike analog, you do not learn the brush strokes that will be required to perform this skill in the mouth. I have performed hundreds if not thousands of equilibrations. I know the brush strokes. For me, once I see on the virtual articulator that I can do the equilibration without too much tooth structure removal, I am ready to go to the mouth. For Kaitlyn, who has very limited equilibration experience, once visualized on the virtual articulator, then it’s time to go back to analog. She mounts the printed models on an analog articulator to perform a traditional trial equilibration. In this way, she learns the brushstrokes of this incredibly important procedure. 

I think it is extremely important that dentists, who are learning to equilibrate intraorally, work on mounted analog models to develop their equilibration skills. 

Returning to the consideration of the financial cost of bringing new technology into your practice—input devices (scanners and CBCTs), output devices (printers and mills), and software to manipulate the data all cost money. Doctors that are going down this road usually like technology and consider the dramatic increases in efficiency to ultimately increase the productivity and profitability of the practice. This is certainly something I have seen. The bottom line is dental stone will go away. We all must make the decision when it is appropriate to make the jump. 

Dr. Lee Ann Brady has invited me to audit all the Pankey Essentials courses over the next year. I am super excited about this. She has asked me to recommend ways to appropriately implement examples of digital technologies and workflows into these core classes. While younger dentists are drawn to digital information, it is important for us to remind them that our patients are ANALOG. We are training dentists to perform complex procedures on patients, not on computers. This requires great study and a commitment to understand timeless concepts, while simultaneously developing the hand skills to accomplish these procedures accurately and use digital workflows to make things more efficient. 

In 2024, The Pankey Institute is also implementing a digital hands-on course for those doctors who would like to make the transition over to virtual articulation and digital workflows—something that I am excited to be part of. Dentistry is in a great transition. I look forward to making sure the concepts that we have all built our practices around do not get lost in the digital world. 

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John Cranham, DDS

Dr. John Cranham practices in Chesapeake, Virginia focusing on esthetic dentistry, implant dentistry, occlusal reconstruction, TMJ/Facial Pain and solving complex problems with an interdisciplinary focus. He practices with his daughter Kaitlyn, who finished dental school in 2020. He is an honors graduate of The Medical College of Virginia in 1988. He served the school as a part time clinical instructor from 1991-1998 earning the student given part time faculty of the year twice during his stint at the university. After studying form the greats in occlusion (Pete Dawson & The Pankey Institute) and Cosmetic Dentistry (Nash, Dickerson, Hornbrook, Rosental, Spear, Kois) during the 1990’s, Dr. Cranham created a lecture in 1997 called The Cosmetic Occlusal Connection. This one day lecture kept him very busy presenting his workflows on these seemingly diametrically opposed ideas. In 2001 he created Cranham Dental Seminars which provided, both lecture, and intensive hands on opportunities to learn. In 2004 he began lecturing at the The Dawson Academy with his mentor Pete Dawson, which led to the merging of Cranham Dental Seminars with The Dawson Academy in 2007. He became a 1/3 partner and its acting Clinical Director and that held that position until September of 2020. His responsibilities included the standardization of the content & faculty within The Academy, teaching the Lecture Classes all over the world, overseeing the core curriculum, as well as constantly evolving the curriculum to stay up to pace with the ever evolving world of Dentistry. During his 25 years as an educator, he became one of the most sought after speakers in dentistry. To date he has presented over 1650 full days of continuing education all over the world. Today he has partnered with Lee Culp CDT, and their focus is on integrating sound occlusal, esthetic, and sound restorative principles into efficient digital workflows, and ultimately coaching doctors on how to integrate them into their practices. He does this under the new umbrella Cranham Culp Digital Dental. Dr. Cranham has published numerous articles on restorative dentistry and in 2018 released a book The Complete Dentist he co-authored with Pete Dawson. In 2011 He along with Dr. Drew Cobb created The Dawson Diagnostic Wizard treatment planning software that today it is known as the Smile Wizard. Additionally, He has served as a key opinion leader and on advisory boards with numerous dental companies. In 2020 he published a book entitled “The Cornell Effect-A Families Journey Toward Happiness, Fulfillment and Peace”. It is an up from the ashes story about his adopted son, who overcame incredible odds, and ultimately inspired the entire family to be better. In November of 2021 it climbed to #5 on the Amazon best seller list in its category. Of all the things he has done, he believes getting this story down on paper is having the greatest impact.

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AI-Powered Technology in Dental Practice

May 3, 2021 Amol Nirgudkar

Around the world, people use AI-powered technology every single day. AI algorithms generate everything from Google search results to predictive text when writing emails to speech-to-text messages on smartphones. Every time you’re shopping and see “Recommended for you,” that’s based on AI data analysis, comparing your shopping habits to those of thousands of other people.

When I spoke at the annual Pankey meeting in New Orleans in 2015, my artificial intelligence software was just in its embryotic stage. Fast forward five years, and it is on the forefront of a technological revolution that improves the operations, ROI, and patient experience in dental practices of all sizes.

Data is hindsight. Intelligence is foresight.

Artificial intelligence programs are trained by using millions of data points that were categorized by humans already. AI software is taught to recognize the meaning of what it is seeing and/or hearing. Then, AI software programs extrapolate results and apply the information to predict behavior, coach behavior, command machines, and more.

9 Ways to Leverage AI in Dental Practice

Hygiene at home: Smart toothbrushes can record how patients are brushing their teeth and share that data with dentists, typically via an app. That allows dentists to identify bad habits and teach patients how to improve their at-home hygiene routine. Some apps even remind patients when it’s time to schedule their next dental appointment.

Voice-activated commands: In healthcare, medical and dental providers are already using voice-activated technology to dictate their notes into patient electronic medical records (EMR) and to access radiographs and other images hands-free. They are also using voice commands to research symptoms, diagnostics, and treatment options. This year will see an explosion of voice-activated commands in the workplace. Gartner, Inc, a world-renowned research and advisory company, predicts 25% of digital workers will use virtual employee assistants (VEAs) daily by the end of 2021. It also predicts that by 2023, 25% of employee interactions with applications will be via voice, up from just 3% in 2019.

Pathology identification: Computer vision AI analyzes radiographs in real time to detect pathologies and standardize quality of care. It provides confidence in the dentists’ diagnostics, and ensures problems are not missed. Companies like Pearl, Videa, and Overjet are successfully implementing computer vision AI in thousands of dental practices and improving diagnosis, case acceptance and ultimately patient outcomes.

Treatment planning: AI computing models are based on the treatment plans and outcomes of hundreds of thousands of patient records. Dentists can leverage AI to analyze different treatment possibilities and determine the potential for success, the length of the case, the materials that would be used, costs, and other considerations.

Treatment acceptance: Augmented reality isn’t just for kids’ games. Dentists use AI-powered augmented reality to generate smile designs in real time. When patients can see how the dental work will improve their appearance and restore function, they are more likely to start treatment.

Data analytics: At its most basic functionality, AI is big data computation. Its advanced algorithms predict future outcomes based on data patterns. Some dental support organizations around the country are already using AI to crunch numbers for predictive analysis designed to increase case acceptance, improve show rates, and optimize schedules.

Insurance reimbursement: For decades, insurance claims have been manually reviewed by dental professionals employed by the insurance carrier. AI can review claims, radiographs, and supporting documentation in seconds, generating approvals or identifying fraudulent claims much more quickly.

Elevated patient care: Technology has already revolutionized electronic health records. In this decade, AI will make it possible to closely tie oral health conditions to overall systemic health which will lead to better communication between providers and breakthroughs in both disease prevention and treatment.

Patient phone calls: Companies like Patient Prism leverage AI’s natural language processing algorithms and machine learning to quickly identify why patients called, the services they requested, the associated revenue, and whether the call ended in a booked appointment. Dentists use the data for everything from front office training to winning back unscheduled callers to determining whether their marketing efforts are driving the right kinds of calls.

Groups like the Artificial Intelligence Dental Council, a non-profit organization established by Pearl, are leading the way on the research and future applications. From helping patients at home to making it easier to book appointments to ensuring accuracy in diagnosis and treatment planning, AI is already revolutionizing dentistry. The future has arrived.

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Amol Nirgudkar

Amol Nirgudkar is a co-founder of Patient Prism LLC and its CEO. He is a CPA, inventor, and serial entrepreneur, who speaks at dental conferences nationwide. Patient Prism holds five utility patents issued by the USPTO and is the only call tracking company that leverages artificial intelligence and human call coaching validation to analyze missed and failed new patient calls. Within 30 minutes, the AI software alerts the dental practice about lost opportunities to schedule patients seeking high value services. Call coaches prepare the Front Desk to call back that new patient with a trending success rate of 30% conversion.

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Up Your Game

October 26, 2020 North Shetter DDS

Over the years I have visited many offices and found every office has a special “hideaway” reserved for the new technology that the doctor is going to implement that never happens. I just looked over an article by Dr. Lou Shulman in Dental Products Report that reviews a multitude of technology options available to us. I was surprised to note the number of doctors who stated that they do not plan to purchase three specific tech areas that we have found to be significant in increasing our production, quality of care, and positive patient reaction. Based on our practice experience, these three items will very quickly provide a return on your investment when you integrate them into your practice.

Voice Activated Software

We have been using Dentrix VoicePro, a voice-activated perio charting and clinical note dictation, for over 15 years. Our hygiene staff would quit if we took it away. We do a full perio charting on every re-care appointment. This software makes it quick and easy, AND the patient hears the numbers and pays attention. There are numerous other features, but the perio charting is worth the price and learning curve. In today’s environment, the system eliminates the need for added staff as a recorder or the constant picking up and putting down of pens or probes.

Intraoral Scanner

We are using iTero and love it. We have had a CAD/CAM system for years and use it routinely. However, if you are doing any aligners or sleep appliances you will love the scanner. Your patients are so appreciative that you no longer have to have them sitting with “goo” in their mouths. There is a learning curve, but it is not too steep. The accuracy of the images is excellent. The unit will not let you send a poor impression to the lab. The cost of a scanner is far less than CAD/CAM. Your lab loves getting your impressions electronically. Your patients are fascinated by your ability to image their teeth with ease and accuracy. Our staff has quickly adapted to the use of the scanner and loves it.

Soft Tissue Laser

The price of soft tissue lasers has dropped dramatically. We were relatively early adopters of the soft tissue laser. We use ours for soft tissue shaping in crown and bridge, desensitization, and soft tissue periodontal procedures. We have had near-zero post-operative complaints in any of these procedures. The desensitization of teeth is amazingly quick and easy. All of our hygiene staff has been trained in laser use and feels that was worth the effort. Patient acceptance of soft tissue laser in hygiene/periodontal procedures is very high.

We try to be at or near the leading edge of the technology curve, not the “bleeding edge,” and we expect technology to have long term value as well as a rapid payback. These items have proven to be time savers, improve our quality of care, and are recognized by our patients as adding value to the experience in our office.

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North Shetter DDS

Dr Shetter attended the University of Detroit Mercy where he received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1972. He then entered the U. S. Army and provided dental care at Ft Bragg, NC for the 82nd Airborne and Special Forces. In late 1975 he and his wife Jan moved to Menominee, MI and began private practice. He now is the senior doctor in a three doctor small group practice. Dr. Shetter has studied extensively at the Pankey Institute, been co-director of a Seattle Study Club branch in Green Bay WI where he has been a mentor to several dental offices. He has been a speaker for the Seattle Study Club. He has postgraduate training in orthodontics, implant restorative procedures, sedation and sleep disordered breathing. His practice is focused on fee for service, outcomes based dentistry. Marina Cove Consulting LLC is his effort to help other dentists discover emotional and economic success and deliver the highest standard of care they are capable of.

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Quantitative Shade Matching & Digital Try In

May 29, 2019 Dr. Charlie Ward
The dreaded single central crown… How many of us feel confident that we can deliver an acceptable restoration on the first try?

We even prepare our patients for the inevitable follow up appointments to “fine tune” the shade. Let’s not even start the discussion of how to charge for this. So, maybe we just veneer the other central for a better match, even if it didn’t need the restoration. If we are hoping to preserve as much natural tooth structure as possible, then obviously this is not ideal.

An Incredibly Technical Task

Shade matching in the anterior, especially for a single tooth, is one of the most difficult endeavors in dentistry. The level of accuracy has to be so high it can become frustrating for the dentist, ceramist and patient very quickly. The subjectivity of this incredibly technical task only serves to further complicate the results. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then it takes a novel to describe a single anterior tooth!

The eLab Alternative

What if we could quantify shade in a way that guided the technician in creating the restoration? What if we could perform a “digital try in” with a high level of accuracy? What if we could know with a higher level of certainty what truly isn’t right about the shade and make the correction in the lab? This is what the eLab protocol provides us: quantitative shade matching using calibrated polarized images, a digital try in and more success.

At the 2019 Annual Pankey Meeting in September, I will present the eLab protocol and describe image acquisition and calibration so the technician can use this information to aid in both fabrication and verification of the final restoration.

Wouldn’t you love to work more predictably with your technician, even when in different geographic locations? Join us from September 12-14 to see what’s possible!

Related Course

Utilizing Clear Aligner Therapy in a Digital Workflow

DATE: September 26 2024 @ 6:00 pm - September 28 2024 @ 2:00 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute

CE HOURS: 0

Dentist Tuition: $ 1695

Single Occupancy with Ensuite Private Bath (per night): $ 290

Enhance Restorative Outcomes This one-and-a-half-day course is designed for Invisalign providers who want to improve restorative outcomes with clear aligner therapy. The course focuses on the digital workflow for comprehensive…

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About Author

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Dr. Charlie Ward

Dr. Charlie Ward graduated from University of Maryland Dental School in 2008. He began his Pankey journey in 2009 and recently joined the visiting faculty in 2018. He practices restorative dentistry in Towson, MD and Millersville, MD with his partner Dr. Devon Conklin and his wife and periodontist Dr. Melody Ward. They have two boys, Cyrus and Lucas. He and his technician, Joshua Polansky, MDT, were early adopters of the eLab system.

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