Dentistry is undergoing a radical transformation. In the past, all dental processes were ruled by analog methods. Physical impressions were used to cast restorations. But these days, more and more of the processes are being transformed into digital. And dentures are no different. Now that the digital genie is out of the bottle, it’s not going back. That’s because digital processes offer too many attractive characteristics.
In the early days of digital dentistry, it wasn’t as accurate as physical impressions. These days, the two are about equally accurate, when used by skilled practitioners.
But while physical impressions have essentially reached their peak accuracy, digital impressions continue to improve. Soon they will be more accurate than physical impressions.
Not only that, but digital impressions are less sensitive to the technique of the user. Physical impressions take longer to master, and offer more opportunities for mistakes even when used by experienced personnel. At a minimum, mistakes with physical impressions lead to the need for repeated impressions. At their worst, these mistakes can lead to dentures with terrible fit and function.
In the analog days, every part of the denture process was disconnected. The taking of the impressions, the designing of the denture, the crafting of the denture, try-ins, and final fittings were all separate parts, each separated by a communication step between the different people involved.
Each of these communication steps is an opportunity for miscommunication, which leads to an inferior product, potentially even one that doesn’t fit or function at all. Not only that, but communication only flows one direction. People downstream in the communication chain can’t affect earlier steps in the process, only add new steps downstream, which can lead to delays, frustration, and even spiralling miscommunication.
Digital processes can be tightly integrated so that every person (and machine) at every step of the process is automatically engaged. It eliminates the communication steps and the risk of miscommunication. It also allows people downstream in the process to communicate ideas to those at the early stages, which can lead to a better finished product.
What do you gain when you eliminate all those communication steps? Time. Every communication step takes times, especially when you’re dealing with physical impressions that need to be transported back and forth. These communication steps can add hours, days, even weeks to the denture process. And who wants to be without their teeth for that long? No one.
It’s no secret: pretty much everybody hates physical impression materials. The stuff we use now is much better than it used to be, but still, it’s no picnic. And the discomfort isn’t momentary: you have to endure it for an extended period of time, perhaps five minutes per arch. And if you have trouble, there’s no alternative but to start over.
But digital impressions are easy. They don’t make you gag the same way, and they’re very quick. The entire mouth can be done in as little as 45 seconds. Plus, if you’re very sensitive, it’s easy to take a break and pick up where we left off.
Physical impressions are very wasteful. Whenever we fill an impression tray, there’s wasted material. And even the physical impressions themselves are only useful until the denture is made, then they just become trash. Plus, there are many intermediate steps that each produce their own waste. And then there’s the packaging and documentation that goes with every communication step. And every time there’s an inaccurate result, the entire process has to be redone. When you add it all up, it’s a significant pile of wasted material.
But digital dentistry can do away with most of that waste. It’s impossible to completely eliminate waste, but digital dentistry allows us to minimize it to what is absolutely essential.
When you put all the benefits together, you see that we have to put less time into the process, waste less material, and have fewer costly errors. All those factors add up to a significant reduction in cost. Digital dentistry will ultimately make dentures cheaper.
We’re not talking about economy dentures: none of these cost reductions comes at the expense of making poorer quality dentures. We’re still using quality materials and expert craftsmanship. We’re just more efficient at doing it, which lets us offer quality dentures at a lower price. Cost should never be your only deciding factor, but if you can get good value, that’s worth it.
We’ve Debuted a Digital Process
To learn more about the benefits of digital implant dentures in Columbia, SC, please call (803) 781-9090 today for an appointment with denture dentist Dr. Adam Hahn at Smile Columbia Dentistry.