What Matters When Enabling Your Dental Practice with 3D Printing and 3D Scanning

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Dental practice owners may feel overwhelmed with all of the decisions that need to be made on a daily basis, from Human resources issues to equipment purchases. As social media becomes more prevalent, patients are more informed which means a dental office must also maintain relevance. This means advancing their technological capabilities for increased patient communication and decreased chair time.

One of the most confusing and important purchases a dentist will make this year will be to become a digital dental practice or maintain their conventional workflows. This could include an Intraoral scanner, 3D printer, chairside mill, 3D face scanner or Digital CBCT.


Equipment manufacturers, supply companies and even implant representatives are all inundating dentists with information, daily deals and giveaways to entice dentists to go digital. The information on all of this equipment can be extremely confusing, usually resulting in a stalemate where the dentist does not make any decisions at all.

The best way to navigate this process is to analyze your needs and ask yourself what you would be using this equipment for and if the ROI and training downtime is worth the investment.

Prior to purchasing your Intraoral Scanner ask yourself these questions:

How much am I paying for Impression Material per year?

How much do I pay for impression trays and bite registration material per year?

How many crowns do I do a year? How many bridges?

(this info can be gathered from your material providers )

Start timing your Crown and Bridge procedures for two weeks …how many minutes does it take for an impression, separate into CDA and Doctor time. Break down the time and the costs for each provider. This info will assist you in determining which IOS you should purchase.

Carestream CS 3600

Once you have your data:

What procedures will I use this for?

Who will be trained?

Do I require color? Do you have an intraoral camera? If not, this can be used instead of a camera.

Do you want to keep impressions of all of your clients over the required 15/30 years?

Do you want to analyze the changes such as wear, periodontal disease, recession, over the lifetime of your patient?

If I was to see my practice and sell all of my equipment, the new dentist wants to make their own 3D printed models, I want the scanner to be able to be open enough to allow them to do that…Future Proof!

Do I want to send scans of all of my new patients to my lab for storage, access, and security?

Do you want to take this scanner with you to multiple practices? Old age facilities?

As an Associate dentist, would you like to keep all of your impressions and patient data with you as you move from office to office? Would you like to send to your lab of choice instead of the lab your principal dentist uses?

Once these questions have been answered, sitting down with the representatives from the top three Intraoral scanning companies 3Shape Trios, Itero and Carestream and narrowing the choices based on needs is the most reliable and comfortable way to make this decision.

The decision to purchase a 3D printer is the same.

What will I be 3D printing?

What is the cost of the printer, also the trays and materials? Those are usually separate.

Are the materials Health Canada or FDA approved currently? If not, when?

When new materials are available, will my 3D printer be able to print them? From other companies as well?

Do I want to make clear aligners? If so, what software would I require to design the models? 3Shape ortho analyzer? Exocad? What is the cost but also what is the yearly license fee? Does this make the purchase financially responsible?

Most importantly, is my team on board and who will be trained? What is their long term plan for their career?

3D printing will eventually be the future of dentistry. The purchase price can go from 5000.00 to 50,000.00. Formlabs is one of the most cost-effective printers on the market and the most popular in dentistry currently. Eventually, we will be 3D printing everything from dentures to crowns. This shift from milling will eventually happen and confirming your scanners are future proof, as previously mentioned, is very important as well.

About the Author:

Christien Kopas, CRMO
Schell Dental Ceramics, Digital Implementation Specialist and Practice Management Consultant

Christien Kopas began her career as a Certified Dental Assistant over 30 years ago. She offered Hygiene Consultative Services to dental practices facilitating a soft tissue management program across Alberta and BC. She then managed and created a marketing campaign for a large dental practice and was asked to join Argen as the first 3Shape Trios 3D imaging system trainer across Canada. Following that she joined Carestream as the Canadian CAD CAM Specialist, facilitating the sale and support system of the CS 3500, CS 3600 Intraoral scanner and CS 3000 in office chairside mill. Currently, she is the CRMO and Digital Implementation Specialist for Schell Dental Ceramics and Innovation Centre in Kelowna, BC, Canada.

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