Interview: Dr. Michael D Scherer On Digital Dentistry – "The original guides were printed in Europe, had to travel via customs, and were incredibly expensive. Looking back, it was a paradigm shift. Wow, things have changed!"

Dr. Michael Scherer is an Assistant Clinical Professor at Loma Linda University, a Clinical Instructor at University of Nevada –Las Vegas, and maintains a practice limited to prosthodontics and implant dentistry in Sonora, California. He is a fellow of the American College of Prosthodontists, has published articles, DVD training series, and in‐person and online courses related to implant dentistry, clinical prosthodontics, and digital technology with a special emphasis on implant over dentures. As an avid technology & computer hobbyist, Dr. Scherer’s involvement in digital implant dentistry has led him to develop and utilize new technology with CAD/CAM surgical systems, implement interactive CBCT implant planning, and outside of the box radiographic imaging concepts. Dr. Scherer also maintains two online courses: 1‐ Fast‐Track Digital Dentistry & 3D Printing, 2‐ Fast‐Track Full‐Arch Reconstruction Implant Overdentures, and five YouTube channels: “LearnLOCATOR”, “LearnLODI”, “LearnSATURNO”, “LearnLOCATOR F‐Tx” and “The 3D Dentist”‐ popular YouTube channels on dental implant procedures and digital dentistry.
Dr. Scherer will be a speaker at 3DHEALS2018.
Jenny: When was the first encounter you had with 3D printing? What was that experience like? What were you thinking at that moment?
Michael: Thank you for the opportunity to have this interview! I began working with 3D printing early in practice in the form of surgical templates to assist in dental implant positioning. The original guides were printed in Europe, had to travel via customs, and were incredibly expensive. Looking back, it was a paradigm shift. Wow, things have changed!
Jenny: What inspired you to start your journey/company/career/research in 3D printing (bio-fabrication/bio-printing)?
Michael: To democratize the system and make printing available via reasonably priced systems, open-source software, and printers that were available to clinicians around the world. I knew from day 1 that it was going to be big for clinical dental practice, but there were so many barriers to implementation. Slowly but surely we have begun to break down each one of those and are starting to see the proliferation of desktop-grade printers in our industry.
Jenny: Who inspired you the most along this journey in 3D printing (bio-printing/bio-fabrication)? This can be a mentor, a patient, a celebrity, anyone basically. You can name more than one as well.
Michael: When I got started with these workflows, very few or even any other dentists were actually using 3d printers in their practices. There were early leaders in 3D printing techniques within dentistry, such as Dr. Ganz who is a leader in 3D imaging and some of the incredible people at Loma Linda University Implant Dentistry department and their pioneering work in “rapid prototyping” of mandibles for dental implant reconstruction in 1983-1985.
Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work?
Michael: I am motivated by being able to see the smiles on my patients’ faces when I show them what we can do with dental 3D printing and modern technology. I have one patient, Jan, who is an older lady that loves rubber ducks. I asked her to bring in her favorite rubber duck and I offered to print an exact copy of it. Using my dental x-ray machine, I was able to scan the duck, create a model out of it, and then 3D print one for her. I was blown away by how touched she was… and will never forget her smile.
Jenny: What is/are the biggest obstacle(s) in your line of work? If you have conquered them, what were your solutions?
Michael: People who say it can’t be done. There are many naysayers and those who have motivations other than improving the quality of care and bringing enhanced access to modern technology. I enjoy the challenge of proving them it can be done.
Jenny: What do you think is (are) the biggest challenge(s) in 3D Printing/bio-printing? What do you think the potential solution(s) is (are)?
Michael: A lack of real and useful biocompatible materials. Regulatory agencies need to make the approval process easier and less expensive than it currently is. We have the computing technology to do almost anything but we don’t have materials that can be used intraorally or those we have are very limited in scope.
Jenny: What advice would you give to a smart driven college student in the “real world”? What bad advice you heard should they ignore?
Michael: Respect your professors yet challenge them every day. Have perspective and ask questions yet understand where we have come from. Do not settle for “this is the way we have always done things” and most certainly never stop pushing.
Jenny: If you could have a giant billboard to promote a message to millions and even billions of people in our community (i.e. healthcare 3D printing and bio-fabrication), what message would that be?
Michael: The most important rule: “You have to have fun while doing this or else it won’t go the distance.” I began this journey when I was young… playing video games. An insane amount of Atari/Nintendo/early Computers. It must be fun to do and not boring, there always should be a challenge, a jump you can’t seem to make in level 9, to keep us going. Like Jobs’ said, “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” I live this mantra daily.
Jenny: What were/was the best investment you made in 3D printing/bio-printing/bio-fabrication?
Michael: Absolutely my first Formlabs printer. It wasn’t my first printer, in fact, I owned 5 of them prior to my first Formlabs, but it was my first printer that just got the job done, rather than spending hours “troubleshooting.”It’s been a really fun journey since then and figuring out what works for dentistry.
Jenny: What does the word “3DHEALS” mean to you? =)
Michael: It’s our commitment to improving worldwide healthcare through the use of additive manufacturing, digital technology, and innovation but also at a reasonable cost. It’s about stoking the fire within each and every one of us to better push ourselves to drive healthcare into the 21st century.