Roland DG Blog

The Future of Digital Dental Technology

The future of dental technology is firmly rooted in mechanisation and automation and there is a major move toward a convergence of interrelated technologies. For example, the merging of 3D scanned data with 3D radiographs and extra-oral facial scans, allowing dentists to create virtual patients with all the metrics required for diagnosis, treatment planning and technology-aided treatment.

Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacture (CAD/CAM) has been advancing in dentistry for about the last 10 years but is really on the move now. With the release of the new Roland DWX-51D dry milling machine and the DWX-4W wet milling machine, the ability to manufacture appliances and prosthetics using a variety of bio-compatible materials is now not only accurate but affordable.

For example, in a dental implant case where a titanium implant is placed into the patient’s bone, it is ideal if a template is created so the drilling position and trajectory can be determined to be optimal. Using the latest in Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT), a high tech 3D X-RAY can be made of the implant site and an intra oral scan of the patient’s oral anatomy can then be merged with this scan. After a simulated implant is added in the optimal position, a “drill guide” is calculated in the software and this can be sent to a DWX-51D for milling.

This drill guide is then directly used in the patient’s mouth to help drill the necessary bone and help place the implant with an accuracy unprecedented. Often the implant is then left for many months while the bone grows around the implant, or what is known as Osseo integration.

Next a replacement tooth, or restoration, must be made. An intra oral scan can be taken of the implant area with a special marker known as a scan flag or scan abutment attached to the implant and this is transferred to a dental CAD software program. The tooth or “implant crown” is designed in software and then can be sent to the DWX-4W for machining using a library of various materials. Glass ceramics are very popular and often used because they have similar optical properties of natural teeth but hybrid composites are also used.

With this shift in technology there is a shift in the relationship between the dentist and the dental technician. Both parties need to keep up with the game as technology marches forward very quickly.

CAD/CAM has arrived and is here to stay. It is the way of the future for dental technology and products like the next generation of glass ceramics give laboratories new options for manufacturing strong, highly aesthetic, in-demand restorations cost-effectively.

Written by Terence F Whitty Dip. DT. (Syd), Fabdent Products and Services and Technical Editor, eLaborate Magazine