WHAT DOES DIGITAL DENTISTRY MEAN TO YOU? Do you own an intraoral
scanner? Do you have an in-office mill? Does your lab have CAD/CAM scanning, milling,
and printing capabilities? If you have any of these things, chances are you invested a lot
of money and time into them. Why did you invest in these systems? Perhaps it was to
increase efficiency, reduce time to completion, lower costs of lab work, or maybe just
to be on the cutting edge of new technology. The beautiful thing about this new
technology is the ability to deliver better restorations. It enhances communication with
the lab via instant feedback on impression accuracy, and it decreases waste of
materials, such as impression material and alloy, in the casting process.
a model-free crown just glazed?” “Can you do
better than that?” “You know, so-and-so lab
sells them for this much.” “Why don’t you put
a mill in my office and make a satellite lab and
charge me even less?” When I speak to technicians I hear, “I converted all my doctors to
milled lithium disilicate even if it’s not proper
prep design. I make those crowns looser so
they will go down. If I have to remake, I remake.”
Where is the quality in this work? Where is
the pride in craftsmanship?
As an industry, we have had a three-tiered
system of product and service. There’s the high-quality, high-priced, low-volume boutique
practice; the good-quality, variable-priced,
medium-volume practice; and the low-quality,
low-priced, high-volume commercial practice.
In all three categories, both the dentist and lab
do their best to please the patient and produce
a product that meets the financial and personal
needs of the patient. I’ve spent my career trying
to maintain a high-quality first-tier dental lab.
Unfortunately, too many dental professionals lose sight of what a wonderful restorative
alternative they offer with this technology and
they sell themselves short. They undersell their
services and think about offering the lowest
possible price. In the last few years it appears
that many are racing to the bottom. “How
cheap can I sell this?” is uttered too often, when
in fact it makes more sense to charge more.
Sure, you can scan that prep and mill a lithium
disilicate crown in the office. Should it be
cheaper or more expensive than one taken
with impression material and sent to the lab?
What do you think? Even if it’s quicker and
easier, the rate of inflation, cost of rent, maintenance, and more dictate that fees remain at
least the same.
Today, digital dentistry reminds me of implants in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Discussing
all the cool things we can do now is fun. But
inevitably the discussion evolves into price
and speed. “How much will you charge me for
Steven Pigliacelli, CDT, MDT