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Exploring: Digital Impressioning

Lava Chairside Oral Scanner

“The Future of Dentistry” by Dr. James M. Carroll

When you think you have seen it all, change happens. A change that is so significant it affects the way we practice; a change for the better that benefits patients, dental laboratories, dentists, and the green earth. New technology has changed the way I practice. I no longer have to make messy impressions, mount cases on semi-adjustable articulators, trim dies, or fight with dental labs about the accuracy of impressions. I’m referring to 3M’s Lava Chairside Oral Scanner (C.O.S. for short) used for crown and bridge dentistry. The profession has a new tool that I consider to be revolutionary to dentistry, just as the high-speed handpiece and photopolymerizing resins did years ago. Remember Nuvafill, Borden Air Rotors, and Adaptic filling material? These products changed the way in which we practice dentistry today and the similarity between them and the C.O.S. is that the individual dentist will be slow in accepting the new technology. After using the C.O.S. for a few weeks, it is obvious that it is setting new standards for the profession. The C.O.S. is accurate, plus or minus 4-6 microns. This accuracy means decreased delivery times, very little adjustment of occlusion or contacts and margins that are undetectable. Using the C.O.S. eliminates many of the errors encountered with conventional impression techniques. I have delivered 130+ crowns (PFM, Empress, Emax, and Lava) and have not had the first remake! This is remarkable in itself, not to mention the increase in patient’s acceptance of treatment when they find out there is no impression! Dental laboratories can only be as accurate as the impression that they receive from the dentist, but with the C.O.S. superior impressions, the crowns you get back from the lab are excellent.

The C.O.S. is accurate, plus or minus 4-6 microns. This accuracy means decreased delivery times, very little adjustment of occlusion or contacts and margins that are undetectable. 6

Dental Explorer | First Quarter 2010

The accuracy and reduced patient anxiety are not the only positives when it comes to the C.O.S. It is also a green technology. What I mean by this is the traditional impressions use chemicals that are not easily biodegradable, whereas the C.O.S. does away with this problem, ultimately making it safer for the patients and the earth. Whenever integrating new technology, materials, or procedures into the practice, I investigate the cost effectiveness of making this type of investment. C.O.S. will replace expensive impression materials, and that in itself will pay for the majority of the unit. The relationship with your lab is very important. I have used Pittman Dental Lab for over 15 years. They have a program for C.O.S. users that helps pay for the unit through volume related discounts. It works like this: if my lab bill per month is a


certain amount, I am discounted a certain amount per scan, meaning the higher the volume, the larger the discount. In essence, they are paying for the unit while I am getting exceptional lab services. The cost of the scan is significantly less than the cost of impression materials, so it saves the practice money through a reduction in material cost. Your lab may have a similar program. In the beginning, there is a learning curve that must be considered. One of the best features of the C.O.S. for teaching is the “Practice Scan Mode”. This allows assistants to practice on each other and develop their technique. The first two weeks after we acquired the system, I brought lunch in for the clinical staff each day and they would practice scanning each other, and they became more efficient with each scan. Practice is vital to the success of the system! Lava C.O.S. is about change. It is easy for most doctors to see the many advantages of the new digital scanning system; however, real resistance to change usually comes from doctors or team members not wanting to leave their comfort zone. The fact that a new procedure or new technology creates a change in work habits immediately creates stress. I am sure we have all heard comments when trying to implement a new technique or a new piece of equipment into our practice such as: “Oh, here he goes again!”, or “This will never work!” If dentists are not able to create exciting expectations with their clinical team, it may prevent them from taking

It is easy for most doctors to see the many advantages of the new digital scanning system; however, real resistance to change usually comes from doctors or team members not wanting to leave their comfort zone. their practice to the next level. If one is to advance in the world, they have to be dedicated and make sacrifices requiring additional effort. That is very true of the C.O.S... Our enthusiasm for this new, precise, digital Impressioning system has had an impact on our patient acceptance as well. And knowing the advantages of the 3M Lava C.O.S. over traditional impression techniques give us the resolve to deal with our resistance to change. The dental practice of the future is dependent upon a good technologically advanced foundation. The Lava C.O.S. provides the quality and accuracy that the profession has long been seeking.

Bio: Dr. James M Carroll has provided dental care in the Upstate for more than 30 years. He received his B.S. from Clemson University and his doctorate in dental medicine from the Medical University of South Carolina. Following graduation from Clemson Dr. Carroll spent three years in the U.S. Army Dental Corps. His passion for excellence in dentistry led him the the Pankey Institute for Advanced

Dental Education where he was a teaching assistant. His wife of 38 years is Janet Carroll. They have two adult children J.C. Carroll & Holly Pope. He is member of the ADA, Spartanburg County Dental Society, The Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education and various civic organizations.

Dental Explorer | First Quarter 2010

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Lava Chairside Oral Scanner "The Future of Dentisty"